In the age of climate change, Inspire is a bicoastal clean energy company providing eco-conscious solutions to consumers. Meanwhile, Inspire must still respond to the erratic reality of climate change and the effect it may have on customers’ energy usage.
Belinda Le, a senior data scientist at Inspire who is based on the West Coast, helps the company prepare for the unpredictable.
Le and her team own the development of the data models Inspire uses to answer a key question: How much energy do consumers need?
“If the weather, for example, starts acting very abnormal, like if there’s a heatwave in Philly during April, people are turning on their AC and our customers are going to have a higher demand for energy that we didn’t expect,” Le said. “We need to know what these forecasts are ahead of time so that we can go in and purchase that energy for our customers and supply it to them.”
Le, who has been with Inspire since April 2020, said data scientists sit at a crucial intersection at Inspire. They must understand the ins and outs of the energy industry, as well as the technology that Inspire uses. Having a comprehensive perspective helps Le and her team produce the data that informs the company’s subscription-based model; Inspire sets a flat monthly rate, based on their energy usage over a year.
The data team’s work helps Inspire predict how long consumers will stay with the company and informs pricing, Le said.
“After we present findings to our company leaders, there is always a reiterating process,” Le said. “During that time, we end up learning more about the business context, which is super important when you’re building tools and when you’re building solutions to a problem.”
Read this Q&A with Le to learn about how Inspire’s data team helps the company provide renewable energy to its customers.
What drew you to Inspire?
When I was looking for my next role, I was really intent on finding a company whose mission I actually aligned with. When Inspire popped up, I was so excited to work for a company committed to renewable solutions.
The role drew me in because as a data scientist, I get to use raw data to find answers to questions for a cause I really care about.
What’s something you’ve accomplished at Inspire that excites you?
When I arrived, we didn’t have in-house models that help our business answer questions and make decisions about pricing. One of my team members and I created these really reliable models, and we’re now working on scaling them as the business scales. We want to ensure they aren’t going to bottleneck in any place and that it’s going to function smoothly.
I’m particularly proud that just two of us were able to accomplish that.
That’s a pretty impressive feat for two people. Has your team grown since?
Yes, and we’re hiring two more data scientists.
That must be exciting!
It is, and Inspire allows its team to be a part of the hiring process, so we can meet the candidates and provide our input.
What do you make sure you ask each candidate?
I’m most interested in having a conversation with the candidate and asking them about a design problem that they would actually face day-to-day at Inspire.
It helps you understand how the candidate may be thinking through a process, which is innate and you can’t teach. We can mentor anyone, but having the curiosity and the drive to really figure out how to solve a question is something I can’t teach and such a crucial aspect. I’m so excited to be a part of these conversations and for our team to grow, because I’m excited for the future of Inspire.-30-