Hello! My name is Alexander V. Mantzaris and I’ve recently joined the Bloom fold for a year as a postdoctoral researcher on a secondment. Sound a bit scary and academic? Well, let me explain.
Before I joined Bloom, I was busy working away on a two year post doctorate research project at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. This was led by Professor Des Higham, a name you might have heard mentioned on the Bloom blog before. I was part of the department of mathematics and statistics at Strathclyde and my main focus was on temporal dynamic networks and their application to online media – work that fed into the creation of Bloom’s earned media planning tool, Whisper. I found it very exciting to be involved in a project where there was a very real business application – in this case, Whisper! When I first came to Bloom, I was pleasantly surprised to see how the methods I was working on were being used in practice – I’m used to working in an academic world where research more often than not fails to reach or have an impact on the ‘outside’ world!
When I was offered the opportunity to come to Bloom on a secondment I enthusiastically agreed. Bloom is a very exciting place to be for a mathematician such as I. The company is actively involved in the understanding of the operation of social networks, attempting to answer the questions that haven’t been tackled before – particularly in regards to the large scale effects observed in social networks. Bloom’s analytics team have spent the past few years working to understand topic evolution, community interaction, and influence to name only a few. I genuinely feel that the analysis team at Bloom are asking and answering really novel questions which demand a new way of thinking; a type of work which I really like to do and I know I’m going to love being involved in.
As I’m sure you’ll imagine, it’s been a bit of a personal challenge to step outside of the academic environment which I have grown accustomed to and has shaped me over years!
The working environment at Bloom is very different to what I’m used to . Answering directly to clients rather than a board of academics, time really is of the essence in the world of marketing. I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with people and teams from all areas of the agency, physically moving around different areas of the building asking questions and working together – instead of being stuck in an office!
I’ve also really enjoyed discovering Leeds -a great city with a thriving data community.
I had a great time attending Leeds Data Thing’s first event a few weeks ago. It was really exciting to be at an event that was data driven but not led by academics. I loved listening to all three talks on the night, which all centred around subjects that I had no previous knowledge of. Quite often during my career, I’ve come across topics being investigated which I had limited knowledge of, but this time the goals and approach taken were very different and refreshing. I find it intriguing how there’s a community of data lovers who are conducting serious research outside of academia and how it’s a hobby for many of them!
When I spoke to other members of the Leeds Data Thing audience, I got the sense that Leeds is a place full of curiosity driven individuals with strong analytical skills. With a wealth of new open data becoming available, the time is ripe to come together to discuss what we can do with it. As an academic I noticed that topics changed quickly during the evening and that they were fresh – nothing discussed was more than a few years old and it gave me a lot of new ideas. In terms of knowledge exchange, it was an extremely valuable experience to watch a community of people collaborating to develop important applications
I’m really looking forward to my next few months of discovering Leeds, getting involved in the data community and playing a part in the exciting work that Bloom is producing!