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Steve Mills is director of machine intelligence at Booz Allen, with expertise in data science, machine intelligence, operations research, and modeling and simulation. Mills leads a team of data scientists and machine intelligence experts in the firm’s Strategic Innovation Group, working across the defense, civil, and commercial markets to help clients solve their toughest challenges. He also leads the firm’s Data Science for Social Good agenda.
Why did you choose our fim? I was looking for a company that offered challenging work with significant and meaningful impact to the nation and the world. I also wanted to be surrounded by brilliant, motivated people with a genuine interest in advancing their professions. I found that mix here.
“Our data science team is deeply passionate about changing the world through data science and analytics. Our work in health, financial services, and defense is having a real impact on the nation and the world.”
What type of work do you do at the firm? I lead a team of data scientists helping to shape our people, capabilities, and strategic direction in the area of Data Science. The team works across domains–defense, health, financial services–to solve our client’s toughest challenges. In doing so, we help them transform into data driven organizations.
How has your background/education helped you be successful? My early background was in the forestry sector, applying advanced analytics to solve a variety of forestry problems. Within this domain, few decision makers have advanced analytic expertise. This forced me to build skills explaining complex analytic approaches and providing an intuitive understanding of analytic results. This ability has been critical to my success. While our technical solutions are important, it’s equally critical that we effectively communicate approaches and the insights they reveal to both technical and non-technical audiences alike.
What are some of your career highlights? Being part of our data science team is a career highlight. It is tremendously rewarding to be surrounded by skilled, motivated individuals on a daily basis. Their deep technical expertise and the outstanding work they delivery are constant reminders of what we can achieve when people are passionate about their work. The team’s passion is evident in our work on The Field Guide to Data Science. I will look fondly upon the experience of creating the field guide throughout the remainder of my career.
What types of technical skills are needed to be successful at the firm? Regardless of your technical capability, the most important skills for an employee are problem solving and logical thinking. Our clients come to us with their toughest challenges, often not knowing where to begin or what questions they should ask. Making sense of their problems requires that we effectively decompose their problem, develop a sound approach, implement a technical solution, and convey results. All of this requires strong problem solving, logical thinking, and other soft skills.
Why is our firm ideal for someone with expertise/skills in your field of work? Booz Allen provides a unique perspective. Many analytics providers focus on a single class of problem within a narrow domain. At the firm we support a diverse set of clients across a variety of domains. Our data science team gains a unique perspective born from this diversity of experience. This perspective allows us to more effectively identify business questions, develop analytic approaches, and convey results.
What differentiates our firm from other technology companies? Our ability to build analytic teams is unmatched by other technology companies. In addition to a deep bench of staff with expertise in mathematics and computer science, we have subject matter experts in countless domain areas. We are able to bring these groups together to establish analytics teams with the expertise necessary to solve our clients’ toughest challenges. When combined with the unique perspective our breadth of consulting experience provides, we have an unmatched ability to rapidly create high-performing analytic teams.
We care about Missions That Matter. Discuss a “mission that matters” you are involved in. Our team is deeply passionate about advancing the art and science of data science. We created The Field Guide to Data Science and opened it to the world expressly for that purpose. It is an outpouring of a passion that we hope many in the professional community can learn from and share. This passion extends to our engagement throughout the professional community, including our efforts using data science for social good.
What projects have you had the opportunity to work on where you have used your technical skills? All of them. I have worked on a variety of efforts for a variety of clients, both government and commercial. On all of these efforts I’ve leveraged both my technical and soft skills to create analytic solutions for our clients.
What excites you about your work? I’m excited by the opportunity to change the world through data science and analytics. Our data science team is having a real impact on the nation and the world through our work in health, financial services, and defense.