From academia to becoming a (shop) directioner

After completing his PhD in computer vision and machine learning, George Cushen took a job as the first computer vision data scientist at the UK’s second largest pureplay etailer, Shop Direct. Here, he examines the challenges and parallels between working on academic projects as a computer scientist, and working as a data scientist in a mid-size retail company. Having the opportunity to work within an agile startup-like environment within a well-established business requires breaking the habit of spending hours researching and not getting anything “done”, instead working closely with stakeholders and embracing the scope for innovation in order to create practical products and services. So here are some lessons learnt about the differences between academia and industry and how to make the most out of your academic experience.