The Founder of Data Moves Me

Kristen Kehrer: Founder of Data Moves Me

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When I was young I wanted to be a contortionist when I grew up.  I was a talented gymnast and tremendously flexible. I come from a blue collar family and I am a first generation college graduate, my parents were very insistent that I must graduate from college. 

In all honesty, my parents suggested I study math at university because I was good at it and they thought that there would be many job opportunities in the field. At 18 years old I wasn’t really aware of the demand in particular industries, but I did fantasize about wearing a suit and heels, carrying a briefcase, and looking like a badass working on Wall Street

I later came to find that I’m much more comfortable in jeans and t-shirts, but I still consider myself a badass.

Although the suggestion to study mathematics was my parents’ and not my own,  I absolutely fell in love with math. I believe part of my passion was the intense work I had to put in to my studies to keep up.  Some weeks I attended 8 hours of tutoring a week at the Math and Business center of the university.

I hadn’t taken calculus in high school, not because I wouldn’t have been capable, but I hadn’t started taking school seriously until my junior year in high school and hadn’t graduated anywhere near the top of my class. It was an uphill climb, but I was determined. 

My tutor was an incredibly intelligent female student that was a couple years ahead of me, she became my role model. I finished university in 3 years by taking up to 24 credits each semester and also taking courses during winter break and summer sessions. By the end of university I was the head tutor at the math and business center and had a 3.8 GPA in my major.

At each stage of my career as I progressed I was told that I “got the position” because I was a woman.  My thesis advisor in grad school (I have an MS in Statistics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute) told me that if a male had applied and we had the same credentials I would have been accepted over the male due to being a woman. 

Then I got my first job in industry (Forecast Analyst building econometric time series models and neural nets to forecast electric & gas load in the utility industry), and my boss at this job told me that if a male had applied and had the same credentials I would have gotten the job over him simply for being a woman. 

My first couple jobs there were remarks on my yearly reviews about the way I dress or present myself on LinkedIn, I don’t believe these comments would have been made if I was male. I’ve always prided myself on being really fantastic at a subject that people wouldn’t expect, simply because I’m female. I enjoyed that feeling.

I am now the founder of Data Moves Me.  It’s a website that focuses on bridging the communication gap between data scientists and stakeholders in industry. 

I’m also an instructor for UC Berkeley Ext. I teach a course Practical Data Science. I also do a lot of speaking at Data Science conferences and do data science consulting.