Navigating Massive Layoffs, Hiring Freezes and Tech Industry Careers in 2023

Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya (Microsoft), Bernard Armah (Wells Fargo), Shuonan (Shannon) Dong (Boeing), Martin Tingley (Netflix) answer audience questions in a Q&A panel.

NISS hosted an Industry Panel on Navigating Massive Layoffs, Hiring Freezes and Tech Industry Careers in 2023 on February 15, 2023. Receiving recent media attention, companies in big tech had a substantial decrease in their positions and have stopped hiring in the last few months. In contrast to the huge rise of positions available during the rise of the pandemic in 2020-2021, many companies indeed overestimated how many positions they would need in 2022-2023, which has led to the massive declines we’re seeing today. Although many students are studying statistics and data science degrees and dream to enter the kind of jobs that the tech industries provide, could this still be possible given the drawbacks of positions in recent months? As an early-career statistician and data scientist ready for finding your next position, how can you secure your position in this industry? What opportunities currently exist for job seekers right now?

Our panelists during this event helped answer these questions and provided helpful advice to navigate this challenging landscape for those seeking employment today. Panelists during this event included Bernard Armah at Wells Fargo, Shuonan (Shannon) Dong from the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development at UW Boeing Advanced Research Center, Martin Tingley at Netflix, and Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya at Microsoft.

The first speaker Bernard Armah is a Quantitative Analytics Manager at Wells Fargo. His Risk Area is Corporate Model Risk and his role at Wells Fargo involves accessing quantitative risk models for conceptual soundness, resilience, reliability and robustness prior to deployment for financial crimes risk management. Bernard has spent over 20 years in the industry and has worked at large companies such as American Express and JP Morgan Chase before Wells Fargo. From his experience in leading modeling & analytics teams across various lines of business, Bernard shared relevant advice to our audience about what one can do to be resilient in the job market. 

Our second speaker Shuonan (Shannon) Dong is an Associate Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development and an Affiliate Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. Shannon specializes in integrated factory automation for composite fabrication and assembly. Shannon gave helpful interview tips for those looking to get hired, where she highlighted the key factors to nailing the interview: connect your projects to the questions and make sure you have a riveting “show and tell” presentation! Some interview questions might ask you to describe your biggest weakness and how you manage your professional environment in light of challenges. You will do well in interviews if your answers highlight your strengths in conflict resolution, problem solving, and handling failures in particular projects that you’ve done in the past or are currently working on.  

Our third speaker Martin Tingley leads a multidisciplinary team on the Netflix Experimentation Platform, focused on developing and scaling both statistical methodology and software solutions to improve decision-making across the company. Prior to joining Netflix in 2017, Martin spent several years modeling and pricing catastrophe risk at Insurance Australia Group. Martin spends a lot of time providing mentoring and having career conversations with different people. For our event, he describes some of the common themes he talks about and notes that your mileage may vary because everyone’s journey is different. He also warns that your graduate education has not prepared you well for life outside of the university! So, it is important to be savvy where you can and continue to be resilient, it will lead you to the job of your dreams, even if you don’t get there immediately.

Our fourth speaker and moderator Dhanushi Wijeyakulasuriya is a Data Scientist on the Experimentation Platform Team at Microsoft Corporation where she helps teams run trustworthy online controlled experiments at scale. Dhanushi shares her story on how she got to be a data scientist with Microsoft. Dhanushi identified Microsoft’s Interview Tips for aspiring data scientists to join their team. 

After each talk from our speakers, they commenced the panel discussion and answered audience questions in a Q&A. 

NISS recorded this panel and is available to view below. To see more recordings of our previous events, visit our NISS Communications YouTube Channel here:

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 by Megan Glenn