Shaping the Future of Work: Insights from Meta’s Arpit Agarwal

Nitika Sharma 28 Nov, 2023 • 4 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the workplace, with remote work becoming a lasting norm. In this episode of Leading with Data, Arpit Agarwal from Meta discusses how the future of work involves virtual reality, enabling remote collaboration that mirrors in-person experiences. Arpit shares insights from his journey, emphasizing pivotal moments and the challenges of analytics in product development’s early stages.

You can listen to this episode of Leading with Data on popular platforms like SpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Apple. Pick your favorite to enjoy the insightful content!

Key Insights from our Conversation with Arpit Agarwal

  • Future work hinges on virtual reality for remote collaboration.
  • Launching a data science team fosters innovation and business impact.
  • Early product-stage data science prioritizes quality, using internal tests and feedback.
  • Hiring for data science needs technical prowess, problem-solving, and strong character.
  • Data science career growth demands broad exploration followed by specialized expertise.

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Now, let’s see the questions Arpit Agarwal answered about his career journey and industry experience.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way we work?

The pandemic has fundamentally changed our work dynamics. We’ve transitioned from office-centric environments to embracing remote work as a new reality. Even with return-to-office policies, a significant portion of the workforce will continue to operate remotely. The challenge lies in maintaining productivity and fostering connections that were once built within office walls. Current tools fall short in replicating the in-person experience, which is where Meta’s vision comes into play. We’re developing products that provide the feeling of working side by side, understanding each other’s body language, and collaborating effectively, all within a virtual space.

Can you share your journey from college to becoming a leader in data science?

My journey began at BITS Goa, where I pursued a computer science degree. Initially, I was academically focused, but BITS allowed me to explore other interests, including data interpretation. I led a puzzles club, which sparked my interest in data. Post-college, I joined Oracle, where I worked in data warehousing and business intelligence, helping clients make data-driven decisions. This experience solidified my interest in analytics and its business applications. I pursued an MBA to deepen my business understanding and later joined Mu Sigma, where I honed my analytics skills. My career progressed through consulting roles and leadership positions in startups like Zoomcar and Katabook, where I tackled diverse data science challenges.

What were the key moments in your career that shaped your path?

Joining Zoomcar was a pivotal moment. I was tasked with building the data science team from scratch, which allowed me to work on innovative projects like driver scoring systems using car data. This experience gave me the opportunity to work closely with C-level executives and influence business decisions directly. Another significant moment was my time at Katabook, where I helped the company become data-driven and launched various analytics initiatives, including loan offerings based on machine learning models.

How does Meta envision the future of work, and what role does data science play in it?

Meta’s vision for the future of work revolves around virtual reality, aiming to create a space where remote collaboration is as natural and effective as in-person interactions. Data science plays a crucial role in setting ambitious organizational goals for products that are ahead of their time. It involves aligning product strategy with these goals, ensuring product quality, and managing diverse, global teams. Data science also addresses the challenge of analytics for products that are in the early stages of development, where customer data is scarce.

What are the challenges of doing analytics for products that are in the 0 to 1 phase?

Analytics for products in the 0 to 1 phase is challenging because there’s limited customer data to guide decision-making. The focus is on ensuring product quality and functionality, which is critical for enterprise products. We rely on internal testing (dogfooding), alpha and beta testing with select groups, and user research to gather feedback and validate the product’s direction. Once we have a solid foundation, we can launch the product to a broader audience and use data science to measure adoption, retention, and iterate based on user feedback.

How do you assess candidates for data science roles, especially in emerging fields like generative AI?

When hiring for data science roles, I look for candidates with strong problem-solving skills, a deep understanding of machine learning fundamentals, and proficiency in programming languages and data manipulation. For generative AI specifically, candidates should have expertise in the relevant domain, such as natural language processing or computer vision. Additionally, I value character and work ethic, which I assess through behavioral questions, reference checks, and a candidate’s ability to explain their projects in depth.

What advice do you have for individuals starting their careers in data science?

For beginners in data science, explore diverse interests before specializing. Utilize abundant free learning resources, prioritize skills for value and fulfillment over quick financial gains. Seize opportunities, even in smaller projects or companies, for substantial growth. Recognize that hard work forms the basis of luck; success is an ongoing journey of learning and improvement.

Summing Up

Arpit Agarwal’s journey exemplifies the impact of data science on diverse industries. Meta’s vision for the future of work highlights the pivotal role data science plays. Aspiring data scientists can glean valuable advice from Arpit’s emphasis on skill development, embracing opportunities, and the enduring journey of continuous learning. 

For more engaging sessions on AI, data science, and GenAI, stay tuned with us on Leading with Data.

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Nitika Sharma 28 Nov 2023

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