Meet the Advisory Board, Part 2: Ryan Samson

Nowadays almost everyone with a phone is familiar with the term “Big Data” – it’s become a buzzword, synonymous with Facebook, analytics, advertising, and basically anything you do online. On a much smaller scale, businesses like ours use analytics and data to help our clients understand how consumers find their business. These analytics allow us to optimize marketing strategies, increase conversions, and more. Data analysis is a key part of marketing of all kinds – which is why we are so proud to have a Strategic Analyst on our Board of Advisors at ViziSites.

Ryan Samson, Data & Strategic Analysis

If you missed Part 1 of our Meet the Advisory Board series, we invite you to go meet Asaf Benhaim, Chairman of Our Board.

Today in Part 2, we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Samson, Data and Strategic Analyst. Ryan is a Principal at SECOR Asset Management and handles Portfolio Management and Research. His specialties include Portfolio Management, Research and Trading of Quantitative Strategies with a focus on Equity Volatility, Macro Events, and Cross-Sectional Equities.

Here at ViziSites, he advises on Operational Insights, Pricing & Market Strategies, and, you guessed it – Data Analysis.

What led you to your current profession and what do you enjoy about it?

A: I went to school at Caltech, where I studied Economics with a strong focus on mathematics, statistics, and programming. During my senior year, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do after graduation. Caltech focuses far more on preparing their undergraduate students to enter PhD programs than on preparing them to enter the working world, but I was more interested in starting a career. Coincidentally, around that time I got back in touch with an old high school friend on Facebook, which was still relatively new in 2004. I knew next to nothing about finance or investing, but he thought my skills and personality would be a great fit for quantitative research on Wall Street and encouraged me to apply to those types of jobs. He was right, and soon after I started a job working on quantitative research at Goldman Sachs, a field I’ve been in ever since. I work on applying advanced statistical and machine learning methods to data in order to predict stock returns. It is a challenging and competitive field, but I enjoy the fast pace and the need to employ both strong technical and creative skills.

What do you feel your experience & knowledge brings to the board of ViziSites?

A: While I focus on the stock market, I have a strong understanding of data science, prediction techniques, and how they can be applied in a variety of contexts. As ViziSites continues to evolve as a business, I’m certain there will be opportunities to employ data science in the creation of innovative product offerings.

What excites you the most about ViziSites as a business?

A: The people behind ViziSites are what excites me the most about the business. At all levels, they’ve shown a dedication to doing the right thing both for their customers and for one another. This corporate culture of integrity is part of what helps them to produce excellent products while keeping the company strong, and will help them stay ahead of the rest of the industry.

What up & coming technology/science are you the most excited about?

A: I’m most excited for how much advancement is still to come in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). AI as it exists today is widely misunderstood and misreported by the media. There have been some incredible recent accomplishments, such as AlphaGo Zero, an AI program developed to dominate the game of “Go”, considered a much more challenging strategy game than chess. However, all of these accomplishments are programs designed with a very narrow focus – they are good at solving one well defined problem. When it comes to more general intelligence, mimicking even simple brains, the field still has a long way to go, and the potential for such technology is incredible.

What is your favorite book, article, or podcast you've heard lately?

A: I’m sorry this will have pretty limited appeal, but I recently got a copy of “Statistical Learning with Sparsity” and think it is a great technical reference for a certain subset of machine learning approaches. It is well written with clear mathematical notation, it covers a lot of cutting-edge techniques, and has great lists of references for further reading. For those mathematically inclined and interested, the book is free to download.

Stay tuned for Part 3 to meet Rainer Villa, our Cybersecurity Advisor.