Behind The Scenes: Jakob

A Babbel Analytics Team Lead tells us about how he rose through the ranks from Data Scientist to managing a team of six.
May 19, 2020
Behind The Scenes: Jakob

At Babbel, our endgame is getting people to have conversations with other people, in a new language. There are fantastic folks here making that possible. In our “Behind The Scenes” series, we sit down with them to provide a glimpse into who makes it all work, what they do, and where their heads are at. 

This round we’re talking to Jakob Graff, Team Lead for Product Intelligence & Experimentation Platform. 

What’s your role at Babbel? What do you do on a typical day?

I’m a team lead for one of the analytics teams in Babbel’s Data Intelligence department. My team works with product and engineering teams helping them with reporting, analyses of user behavior, any quantitative analysis that helps the teams to improve the learner experience. We also work on building tooling to automate our AB testing work so that everybody in the company can easily figure out what works best for our learners. My day consists of a lot of communication. I may discuss our roadmap and priorities with my team, discuss specific research projects in the team, or catch up with different stakeholders to discuss future projects and collaboration.

Where are you from and which languages do you speak?

I’m from the Ruhr area in the west of Germany. I speak German and English.

This is a pretty international workplace. How does that influence your work?

I really like that when you walk through our offices you hear conversations in a lot of different languages. It’s quite inspiring working with so many people from different countries and to get insights into their culture. It also means that there are cultural differences when it comes to communication and that can also be challenging, so it’s crucial to be mindful of these differences. Overall though, having so many different cultures and perspectives is a real advantage in our work.

You started off at Babbel as a Data Scientist and now manage a team of 6 Data Scientists. Tell us about your career progression and what it’s like managing your own team?

Since I started at Babbel around two and a half years ago, my role has changed quite a lot. I was fortunate that my manager early created opportunities for me to take on more responsibility in the data science team so that I could get a bit of leadership experience before I actually changed into the team lead role. At first I led a team of two which then grew bigger over time. While at first, my mission was to build up and spread my knowledge and experience within the team, it is now focused on shaping our priorities, improving the team’s work processes, and creating an environment that gives the team the necessary headspace to come up with the best ways to do their work.

What challenges are you most animated by?

My team is fairly small compared to the number of other teams we work with, so automating repetitive work is a focus area for us in order to take on more (and often more interesting) projects. We have now doubled down on our mission to automate our entire AB testing workflow and turn it into a tool that does the work for us. The challenge of how to build this tool is something that really excites me.

How does working on a purpose-driven product affect your workday?

Almost all of us have been through the experience of learning a new language and the struggles that come with it. It’s super gratifying to see how our product helps users overcome these struggles and allow them to connect with other people. Working at Babbel, you immediately notice that pretty much everybody is very passionate about language learning and how we can improve our product. You seldom hear questions like, “How can we make more money?”, but plenty of “How can we help our learners?”

Since we are now all working from home, how have you adjusted to this situation? Do you have any tips to share for WFH productivity?

In the first two weeks at home I struggled with my internet connection until I got myself a good old ethernet cable. What has helped me is to have a fairly strict schedule (same start time in the morning, 1hr lunch, etc.) outside of which I try to think of as little work as possible. Running also clears my head at night. Apart from that, I try to shorten my video meetings so that I can take breaks in between in order to make up for the time it previously took me to walk from meeting room to meeting room.

Want to work with Jakob? His team is currently looking for a Team Lead in Business Intelligence !

Author Headshot
Ewa Cabaj
Ewa works in the Internal Communications team in Berlin and heads up Babbel's Employer Branding. She likes to think of herself as a trilingual Polish-German-American nomad and is a big fan of all things noodle, travel, and dog-related content.
Ewa works in the Internal Communications team in Berlin and heads up Babbel's Employer Branding. She likes to think of herself as a trilingual Polish-German-American nomad and is a big fan of all things noodle, travel, and dog-related content.

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