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Half Stack Data Science

Half Stack Data Science

By Half Stack Data Science

"Half Stack Data Science" is a podcast by David Asboth and Shaun McGirr about the realities of Data Science in the enterprise business world.
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S03E03 - Effective Python teaching - with Matt Harrison

Half Stack Data ScienceAug 31, 2023

S03E06 - Reimagining data analytics training - with James Cotton

S03E06 - Reimagining data analytics training - with James Cotton

First of all, David's book Solve Any Data Analysis Problem is available in Manning's Early Access Program!

You can read more about it here: (if it's not on offer when you're there, you can get 35% off with the code au35asb).


In this episode, we talked to James Cotton, co-founder of iO-Sphere.

Canadian originally, James has been working in the UK for the last 10 years, always in analytics, pricing, and data science. After a short stint in insurance he was at for 3.5 years always working in customer analytics and marketing analytics. He then went to worldremit – a large uk fintech company that’s sort of like a digital western union. There he built out a team, growing it significantly. Over the past 7 or 8 years he’s hired dozens and dozens of data professionals of all levels – clearly seeing the gap between existing data training programmes and courses and the real need in industry.

James is one of the founders of iO-Sphere, which was created in order to close that gap with actually useful, practical, training. They also fund all the training of everyone that comes onto the programme – helping to lower financial barriers to accessing high quality training and these careers.

We talked to James about the skill gap between training and the real world, why no one has thought to close that gap in the way io-Sphere have, whether standardisation makes sense for the analytics industry, and of course where AI fits into all this.

Find out more about iO-Sphere here:

You can find James on LinkedIn:

Dec 06, 202354:47
S03E05 - Code quality for data science - with Laszlo Sragner
Oct 11, 202345:12
S03E04 - The language of data literacy - with Valerie Logan

S03E04 - The language of data literacy - with Valerie Logan

Continuing our series of conversations with data educators, in this episode we spoke to Valerie Logan.

Founding The Data Lodge in 2019, Valerie is as committed to data literacy as it gets.  She believes that in today's digital society, data literacy is not just a work skill- it's a life skill.  With advisory services, train-the-trainer bootcamps, an extensive resource library and community services at The Data Lodge, Valerie is certifying the world’s first Data Literacy Program Leads across commercial, nonprofit and public sectors.

In 2022, The Data Lodge was recognized by CDO Magazine as one of the "Top 25 Data Startups to Watch in 2022".  Valerie has more than 28 years of experience, including two decades of global consulting across industries, and five years of applied experience in the telecommunications industry at both field and enterprise levels. She holds a B.S. in Math from SUNY College at Buffalo and an M.S. in Applied Math with a concentration in Operations Research from New Mexico State.

We talked to Valerie about how literacy in data is like literacy in any language, how to spread data literacy effectively in a business, what are some obstacles to doing this, how you measure the success of a data literacy program, and of course the effect of the emergence of AI on all of the above. Valerie even made a custom Scrabble board just for this episode, you can see that on our website

If you enjoy our podcast, please consider rating and reviewing it on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Sep 17, 202350:04
S03E03 - Effective Python teaching - with Matt Harrison

S03E03 - Effective Python teaching - with Matt Harrison

In this episode of Half Stack Data Science we continue our season 3 all about data science education, with a conversation with Matt Harrison.

Matt stands as a prominent figure in the Python and data science community. A Stanford Computer Science alumnus, he's made significant contributions through his best-selling books, which include titles like "Effective Pandas", "Effective XGBoost", "Machine Learning Pocket Reference", and "Illustrated Guide to Learning Python 3." Beyond authorship, Matt has shared his expertise at major corporations such as Netflix and NASA, as well as academic institutions like Stanford, the University of Utah, and BYU. With a Python journey beginning in 2000, he's equipped thousands with vital skills, both online and in-person. He runs MetaSnake, a Python and Data training company.

We talked to Matt about the pushback he gets whenever he posts code online, what we all think of Excel’s newly announced Python integration, how ChatGPT has affected our work, and whether cooking is a good metaphor for programming.

Aug 31, 202336:31
S03E02 - The joy of teaching Python - with Reuven Lerner

S03E02 - The joy of teaching Python - with Reuven Lerner

In this episode of Half Stack Data Science we continue our season 3, all about data science education, with a conversation with Reuven Lerner.

Reuven is a full-time Python trainer with a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from MIT, and a PhD in learning sciences from Northwestern University.

In 2020, Reuven published "Python Workout" a collection of Python exercises with extensive explanations, published by Manning. He's currently working on "Pandas workout" a similar collection of exercises using the "pandas" library for data analytics.

Reuven's free, weekly "Better developers" newsletter, about Python and software engineering, is read by more than 30,000 developers around the globe.

Reuven's most recent venture is Bamboo Weekly: Every Wednesday, he presents a problem based on current events, using a public data set. And every Thursday, he shared detailed solutions to those problems using Pandas.

We spoke to Reuven about his love of teaching Python to beginners, what he thinks of notebooks and ChatGPT as educational tools, and how he got banned for life from advertising on Facebook.

Aug 09, 202340:48
S03E01 - Preparing analysts for the real world - with Lisa Carpenter

S03E01 - Preparing analysts for the real world - with Lisa Carpenter

In this episode, David & Shaun talk to Lisa Carpenter. Lisa is the lead data science instructor at Digital Futures, with responsibility for the design and delivery of the Data Science programme. Prior to transitioning to teaching, Lisa gained over 10 years of experience in the data industry. Lisa is passionate about empowering people through digital skills and thoroughly enjoys seeing students grow their data careers.

Among many topics, we discussed how chefs are retraining to be data scientists, why Lisa doesn't like the "let me Google that for you" website, and the present and future of data education.

Jul 27, 202336:25
Season 3 Teaser

Season 3 Teaser

The Half Stack Data Science podcast is back (again)! Season 3 is coming very soon. In the meantime, listen to our teaser episode where we briefly recap our first 2 seasons and introduce the concept behind season 3; a series of interviews with educators who are bringing data science to the people!

Jun 04, 202304:20
Data Science Festival Special: Bridging the Supply-Demand Gap in Data Science

Data Science Festival Special: Bridging the Supply-Demand Gap in Data Science

In this episode we bring you our talk from the recent Data Science Festival in London. Our talk was titled "Bridging the data science supply-demand gap" and it was all about topics that will be familiar to listeners. We tackled the question "how is it that there is an abundance of junior data scientists and open data science positions yet the job market is unsatisfactory for both sides"? A huge thank you to Data Science Festival for having us, and for allowing us to share the audio with our audience!

Dec 22, 202140:56
AI Today special with Ron Schmelzer and Kathleen Walch
Aug 18, 202143:15
S2E4 - Chris Moffitt

S2E4 - Chris Moffitt

In this episode of Half Stack Data Science we continue our series "The Orthogonals" with a conversation with Chris Moffitt.

Chris is a Senior Manager Strategic Pricing & Analytics in the medical device industry. He is an active Python user with over 15 years of experience using Python for everything from web development to system administration and most recently data science. He is the author of the popular blog Practical Business Python ( where he describes how to use Python to solve common business problems. 

We spoke to Chris about how he has used Python to his benefit at work, how the desire for automation is a mindset, and the future of complex machine learning models in the business world. Chris is entirely self-taught when it comes to using Python and you'll hear him reflect on this when he says "There's no way to learn programming outside of programming".

Mar 02, 202147:37
S2E3 - Joana Wang

S2E3 - Joana Wang

In this episode of "the orthogonals" we spoke to Joana Wang. Joana is a data aficionado with a passion for education. Her ambition is to help people demystify the world of data and make analytics second nature while having fun.

Having worked both in strategy consulting and industry, she's had projects across retail & wholesale, supply chain and financial services. In her last 8 years of experience, she's spent most of her time doing financial modelling, building bespoke data analytics products and wrangling data - a lot of it! This has required her to not only be able to technically develop solutions but also understand the wider business context and relate to people's needs, which she tries to embed in her teaching style.

We spoke with Joana about a variety of topics including how to incorporate data science into the business world, the state of data science education, what skills you need to be a data scientist and which of those skills are easier to teach or can even be taught at all. To give you a teaser, she summarised this beautifully when she said "No amount of code is going to tell you how to think".

Dec 19, 202042:29
S2E2 - Peter Ellis
Aug 16, 202055:50
S2E1 - Andrea Jones-Rooy

S2E1 - Andrea Jones-Rooy

In the first episode of season 2, "The Orthogonals", Shaun and David speak to Andrea Jones-Rooy.

Andrea is a social scientist specializing in complexity.  She has written a book and several research papers on complex systems, and regularly contributes articles to media outlets on (you guessed it!) complexity — plus data science, international relations, diversity, and uncertainty. She is also a standup comedian and circus performer. The whole thing is confusing, but basically she’ll do whatever it takes to get people to pay attention to social science & complexity. Andrea earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

We discussed why you shouldn't do a political science PhD to become a data scientist, how a political science PhD will benefit you in data science if you happen to have one, finishing a PhD thesis in a Thai restaurant, and what skills are missing from most data science courses and what to do about it.

Jul 24, 202001:04:37
Season 2 Teaser

Season 2 Teaser

In this teaser episode of the Half Stack Data Science podcast, the hosts David Asboth and dr Shaun McGirr recap the first six episodes of the podcast and introduce the upcoming season 2: The Orthogonals

Jul 20, 202008:46
006: Interview with Allison Nau
Dec 17, 201847:43
005: Estimating Time
Sep 23, 201823:16
004: Getting Data

004: Getting Data

In this episode, Shaun and David talk some more about the rationale behind this podcast, and about how hard it is to get your hands on data in the first place.
Sep 02, 201834:24
003: Identifying Value in Data Science

003: Identifying Value in Data Science

In episode 3 of the Half Stack Data Science podcast, Shaun and David talk about how to identify the value of a Data Science project. Assuming you are free from some constraints that historically hold back the progress of Data Science teams, how do you decide what to work on?
Aug 20, 201834:42
002: The Insight Journey

002: The Insight Journey

In the second episode of the Half Stack Data Science podcast, David and Shaun talk about the strategy companies can employ to become more data-driven, using what they call "the Insight Journey".
Aug 11, 201836:27
001: What is Half Stack Data Science?

001: What is Half Stack Data Science?

In the first episode of the Half Stack Data Science, David Asboth and Dr. Shaun McGirr answer the question "what is Half Stack Data Science"?
Aug 11, 201837:37