Vice President, Data Science

The Vice President, Data Science will lead Zest’s ML team to deliver technically excellent, highly predictive models to drive Zest’s businesses. The successful VP will be a machine learning powerhouse, a polished communicator, and a highly skilled team builder & leader. The VP will also champion Zest’s underwriting technologies across a broad range of external constituencies including investors, conferences, press, and potential clients.

This position reports to the President, Mike Armstrong. Mike is a seasoned data-driven executive and has held senior roles at Capital One, startups, and strategy consulting. 


  • Lead a team of 10+ data scientists in developing high-quality, robust predictive algorithms.
  • Recruit, motivate, and develop the best data scientist talent in the world.
  • Aggressively drive innovation that creates proprietary advantage for Zest (both discontinuous and incremental innovation).
  • Define Zest’s modeling strategy and manage pipeline for internal and external modeling efforts.
  • Translate unstructured business problems into well-defined machine learning projects.
  • Help develop robust, scalable infrastructure for real-time predictions.
  • Collaborate with a cross-functional team of Engineers, Product Managers, and Business Analysts to identify and manage high leverage opportunities for modeling work.
  • Represent ZestFinance in calls, meetings, conferences to advance Zest’s position as the world’s leading ML team.
  • Visibly drive innovation by incorporating new modeling capabilities and/or pioneering data sources.
  • Develop and evangelize best practices for scoping, building, validating, and monitoring modeling projects.


  • Top decile of top 1% rock star – analytical powerhouse & accomplished value creator.
  • Steep career trajectory characterized by increasing levels of responsibility and bona fide examples of driving value creation through innovation.
  • Strategic – goal oriented, organizes thinking within analytical frameworks.
  • Graduate Degree in Math, Computer Science, Statistics, or a related quantitative field.
  • Prior experience in FinTech or related fields (preferred).
  • Expert command of statistical analysis, algorithm development, and state-of-the-art tools and methodologies for data science including SQL, R, or Python as applied to data science.
  • 10+ years creating predictive models using advance machine learning techniques.
  • 5+ years managing a team of data scientists.
  • Executive presence/gravitas, polished executive-level communication skills (written & oral).
  • Experience with Hadoop, Spark, or other big data platforms is a plus.


ZestFinance is a technology startup that uses machine learning and large-scale data analysis to transform credit availability for millions of Americans. Over the past 5 years, ZestFinance has built a big data underwriting technology that more accurately predicts likelihood of repayment. ZestFinance uses this technology to make loans to customer that banks typically overlook. ZestFinance also licenses its technology to other companies, including JD.com in China.

ZestFinance was founded in September, 2009, by founder and CEO Douglas Merrill, an accomplished technology executive who previously served as CIO of Google.

We are committed to diversity in hiring, professional development, and everyday discussion.  Zest is determined to hire crazy smart people who are different from each other to create broad thinking, lots of different ideas, and by extension, the best team possible.

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