We’re back with another team spotlight feature to introduce you to more of the brilliant team members working behind the scenes on the FIT:MATCH experience. Each member of our team plays a key role in helping us reach our goals, and we want to take the time to highlight their work. In this spotlight, we’ll focus on Josh Ballance.
Josh is FIT:MATCH’s Data Architect and has been with the company for nearly a year. As a Data Architect, his work largely involves designing how data flows through our products, aids the customer journey, and how it’s stored on the backend. Living outside Boston proper, he enjoys going downtown, enjoying the restaurant scene, and even hiking when he’s not at work.
What did you do before coming to FIT:MATCH?
Before coming to FIT:MATCH, I spent a year in consulting, working to help companies modernize and scale their analytics tech stack–very similar to aspects of my current role. Prior to that, I spent 8 years with the Federal Reserve in Boston working in economic research. In my various roles during my time there, I worked with research economists on a variety of policy-related projects, published peer-reviewed research, and supported the growing data science and engineering needs of the department.
I was really excited about the opportunity to join FIT:MATCH because the role presented a unique opportunity for me to utilize a broad set of skills that I've developed over my career. In particular, I was drawn to the role’s focus on the more engineering-centric areas of working with data, while still providing the opportunity to support machine learning and statistical modeling projects through collaboration with the Data Science team. I have a strong background in statistics and found this was something I missed from my time in consulting, where my work was solely focused on engineering and architecture. I was also really impressed with the product and the vision that was laid out for the company as I was interviewing.
How do you think your role has shaped the team culture since you’ve been here?
I was a strong proponent of adopting the Atlassian suite (Jira, Confluence) for our company's work management suite, which I believe has made a huge impact in shaping our team culture into being more focused and organized–particularly on the engineering team. I also think the exciting work we've done with building out our analytics pipeline in the time I've been with FIT:MATCH has helped in instilling more confidence in our data across the organization. The focus on developing a single source of truth for data was a major initiative during my first six months here and has been crucial in helping our entire company become more data driven today, while providing a scalable foundation that addresses future data needs. We've also become a lot more agile in responding to data requests because of this organization and structure.
How do you typically approach problem-solving in your role?
Documentation! I typically try to collect as much information on a topic as possible, so I have a full understanding of the options for solving the problem at hand. ChatGPT has been a great way at addressing the cold-start aspect of this process and has become an integral part of my initial problem-solving approach. But typically I'll assemble my thoughts into a Business Spec to frame the end goal and then start drafting a Technical Spec document to flush out the specific action items that will be needed to complete the task.
Can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned while working at FIT:MATCH?
Tailoring my message to the audience/stakeholder(s). This is a skill I certainly worked on during my time in consulting, but the diverse group of individuals I interact with at FIT:MATCH on a daily basis has been an amazing crash course in making sure that my tone and the depth of technical context delivered are tailored to whom I'm speaking with. This has been an adjustment, coming from an environment like the Fed where everyone I worked with had a similar background, but is a hugely valuable skill that I've been able to hone during my time here!
What are some resources you believe help you do your job more effectively?
I enjoy reading Medium articles to learn about new tools, technologies, and concepts. ChatGPT and Google (as a means of getting to Stack Overflow) are also resources I frequently use. Learning enough so that you can search for the answers you need is one of the most important skills for success. My coworkers are also a great sounding board for ideas. Nathan Head (Lead Backend Engineer) and I will frequently hop on a call to walk through ways to solve a problem at hand.
What’s one professional skill you’re actively developing?
I'm planning to sit for the Snowflake SnowPro Core certification later this year and am preparing for the exam right now. Snowflake is a cloud data warehouse that can store and analyze all your data records in one place. It can automatically scale up/down its compute resources to load, integrate, and analyze data. The Snowflake SnowPro Core certification essentially demonstrates someone’s knowledge to apply core expertise within the Snowflake platform. This has been a great opportunity to learn more about the platform, in particular, to focus on services that I don't use on a daily basis at FIT:MATCH.
Are there industry changes or trends you think could have a big impact on FIT:MATCH?
I do think the security aspect of our tech is a huge selling point with customers becoming more and more privacy-focused. The fact that we're not asking for biometric and demographic data and don't collect any images is a game changer compared to other tech in the space. I also think there are a lot of areas where advancements in machine or deep learning could be leveraged within our product, particularly to reduce the cost of onboarding new brands.
What’s the toughest-to-fit category in your wardrobe?
Button-up casual shirts are definitely a category that I frequently have to return due to poor fit.
Which team member(s) are you most inspired by?
From a technical side, of course, the work that Jie Pei (Chief Data Scientist) and her team do is so impressive.
As of late, I’ve really enjoyed working more closely with Amie DeNittis (Director of Fit and Sizing). It’s been exciting to see her desire to develop more efficient processes on the operations side that can be leveraged downstream for analytics purposes. As she’s reviewing scans, she’s also providing feedback that can be used by the Data Science team to improve their algorithms. We’re working on tools to allow her to do that more efficiently, and it’s been interesting to understand her perspective, especially as someone who is an expert in fit, shape, and the core principles of bra fitting.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Airtags (formally Tile). I'm always losing my keys/wallet around the house and used to waste so much time searching before Tile came out.
If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
I would probably want to fly/teleport. I HATE getting stuck in traffic!