This Data Scientist Created a Tinder-Like Program for Mentorship

Finding the perfect mentor is often a challenge — and it is one that Tyler Nelson was determined to help his colleagues at BlackRock overcome. His idea? A program like Tinder that uses machine learning algorithms to match advisors and mentees who are members of an investment company’s Allies & Affiliates Network.

The San Francisco-based tech investor said, “The project — which included measuring membership trends and recruiting to create an algorithmically enhanced mentorship program — inspired me to become a should be in business and confident in what I can build from scratch.”

Here, Nelson shares why he believes mentoring is so important, how his art history background has prepared him to work in finance, and Best career advice he ever received.

What attracted you to BlackRock in the first place, and what are your core responsibilities?

A mentor of mine told me that BlackRock works right at the intersection of investment, technology and sustainability — a trio for me!

I work on our tech fund as our team’s data scientist. I help architect our data and research platform, then ultimately use that data to make investment decisions.

How did you prepare for your interviews with BlackRock?

I practice telling my story: Why did I study computer engineering and art history? How did I use analytics to guide my university’s record label? Why do I like investing? Figuring out what clicked and what sounded awkward was a good feedback loop to confirm that I made the right career decision.

When it comes to telling your own story, my advice has two parts: Be specific and unique. If you need help, ask a few people close to you how they would tell your story!

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What kept you at BlackRock for nearly six years?

Opportunities for continuous growth. BlackRock is a sandbox of opportunities — one day I can practice my Python skills, the next stock market analysis, and the next client presentation. I’m always looking for intellectual stimulation, so whether it’s blockchain technology or sustainability, there’s a good chance someone at BlackRock is working on it.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am quite proud when my data visualization was coined as “Nelson Plot” by one of the founders of BlackRock. I was tasked with showing how hundreds of different funds would perform during a market sell-off, and instead of just boxy plots and whiskers, we wanted to show a full distribution. enough of the results. I have to use data creatively to tell a story and have my brand on it.

Tell us about the machine learning algorithm you created for BlackRock’s Out & Allies Network to help with its mentoring and career development program.

Mentoring is important, especially in underrepresented communities. I wanted to design a fun and efficient pairing process: a Tinder-like algorithm that matches people with similar interests and mentoring goals so that the pairing will stick. We already have over 300 employees signed up, both LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. The algorithm found extremely accurate pairs, matching a San Francisco-based executive who has studied musicology with a Tokyo analyst who has a passion for his music. orchestra.

What advice do you have for people who want to be better allies?

Focus on the impact you can make. What actions could help your mentor advance his career, feel acknowledged, or learn a skill? In essence, allyship is a type of relationship, so like any relationship, initiative and consistency will go a long way.

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You studied engineering, economics, art history and data analysis. Have any of these themes contributed to your work at BlackRock in surprising ways?

Total! I am a firm believer that the art of analysis is very similar to stock selection. In art history, you analyze a painting, contextualize it in its time period, then tell the story of its impact. The same goes for a stock: You understand a stock’s fundamentals, compare its valuation and competitive position with peers, and then make thoughtful recommendations.

How do you practice work-life balance? Are there any related benefits or perks that you take advantage of at BlackRock?

I am a member of SFMoma and the de Young Museum, both with support from BlackRock. Visiting a new exhibition after work allows me to flex both the left and right sides of my brain, helping me feel balanced.

What is one positive change you have made to your daily work routine since the pandemic started?

I primarily think about what forms of communication will help fill my social battery. Slick messages and generic Zoom calls don’t make me feel good, but meaningful one-on-one video calls or personalized notes can help maintain social ties in the environment. combined workplace.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice is “measure your success not based on time, but on impact made.” Did I promote value? Did I save my team time? Have I been thinking systematically so that this task can be automated for the future? We are not robots; we should move away from repetitive work and towards a vision of adding value.

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You’re throwing a dinner party with your biggest role models. Who is invited and what will you talk about?

That would be an eclectic trilogy: Survivor host Jeff Probst, creator of Pokemon Satoshi Tajiri and TikTok icon, Noah Beck. All are extraordinary storytellers in their unique ways. In an age where yesterday’s news quickly becomes irrelevant, it’s hard to believe how they managed to entertain their audience for years, if not decades, at last.

Updated June 15, 2022

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