Interview with Albert Puigbó, ex-intern and now Head of Data Science at Smadex

What attracted you to intern at Smadex?

I’ve always had a passion for technology and numbers; Smadex offered me the opportunity to get involved with one of the hottest technologies at the moment – mobile advertising – and work with vast amounts of data.

The mobile ad space is nascent and there’s an abundant opportunity to discover new things and be part of a team that builds something new in the world for the first time. That sort of thing looks awesome on your CV for the future!

The other thing that attracted me to Smadex was culture – that was an important consideration for me personally. I viewed Smadex as a young, energetic and experienced team that truly valued talented individuals, that’s exactly what I was looking for. Smadex was one of the few companies in Spain that had that cool Silicon Valley start-up feel to it.

My advice to people looking to intern: Try to find a company where you can make an impact from the start; that’s what everyone should look for in an internship.

Why mobile advertising?

Much has been written about the massive opportunity in mobile advertising and becoming a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the next few years. To be part of a booming industry that’s only just starting was super exciting. The other reason for choosing mobile advertising was that it’s tightly related to analytics and data science; the option to work for a company that places ads on millions of mobile devices globally daily combined with the experience and exposure to absolutely vast amounts data and what to do with it was something I couldn’t walk away from.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been how to balance giving my best and fulfilling expectations with the rapid increase in responsibility.

That’s part of the territory in start-ups – you really have to step up without being told what to to do and be able to adapt and solve challenges on a regular basis. It’s about rolling up your sleeves from day one and get things done. Unfortunately there’s no play-book, so it’s kinda all down to you to find a solution. It’s so much easier to be told what to do; than having to determine that for yourself.

A concrete challenge: When I started at Smadex, mobile advertising was completely new to me so the learning curve was obviously very steep; optimizing campaigns, organizing the team, relationship with clients, optimize supply. The challenge I needed to address was how to improve the process so that new starters could get on board and up to speed as fast as possible.

How has working at Smadex helped you develop your career path?

Smadex has really supported me with career development. Fast growing companies provide the perfect opportunity to keep taking on responsibility as well as experiencing new challenges.

If you come with an attitude of getting stuck in and rolling your sleeves up, then the scope for what you can achieve is endless. Working in a small company means you get exposed to as much shared knowledge as you need and that means that you can learn from projects that colleagues are working on far more easily; from financing a start-up to hiring, account management or data science.

What’s ad tech culture like?

Ad tech culture is results oriented and smart talent is needed because it’s a very complex world. The Smadex platform processes billions of ad requests per day and makes buying decisions in milliseconds – that requires scalable architecture, smart algorithms to name but a few.

Because there are so many different moving parts, you have to work together across the functional areas in order to align on client or product requirements; that’s why excellent communication and interpersonal skills are so important.

What does a typically day look like?

We start every day with a short daily meeting to update on any issues or red flags that may exist. We also review results from the previous day to make sure that activity went according to plan. Once we have an idea of what’s gone on then we divide work and across the team. Each day is different from an operational perspective.

I also spend time on data science and that involves more strategic work in developing the next set of algorithms or reviewing test data from offline processing models.

The advantage of working in Barcelona is the great weather and the number of sunny days that we get. The team often has lunch out on the Smadex terrace and that gives us some time to disconnect and socialise.