Shift Spotlight: Allie Cell

Find how and why Allie decided to help unblind us with (data) science.

Allie greeting data and challenges every morning.

Allie is one of the fabulous data scientists here at Shift. Longtime Shifter Dennis recruited her out of school, where she studied data science and engineering. She graduated in Spring 2018, and she’s been here ever since. We asked her about how she’s liked working here. 

When Dennis told you about Shift, what sold you on it? The problem is really interesting (and Dennis is really smart). I came up with ideas for [how to improve the model], and it seemed like a place where you could come in and have a lot of impact and ideas are really valued. 

I ended up crying during the on-site interview [I was told the story of a single mom who literally couldn’t have gone to a used car dealership, and Shift made it possible for her to buy a car.] There are a lot of use cases that are doing good. 

Did that sense of impact continue after you started? Absolutely. The impact has continued. My day 2 project turned into something that kept evolving into a three or four month project that had a few hundred thousand dollars of impact.

How do you think about Shift doing good? Our pricing is fair and isn’t based on how much you know about cars, it doesn’t discriminate. It’s as fair as we can be at fair market prices. It about the cars, not about the person. There’s no swindling or anything. That our pricing is fair, that’s the biggest thing. 

How do you describe Shift to your friends? I used the same line, that Shift is revolutionizing the car-buying experience to make it fun, fair and accessible. They make a joke about me being a sales person, but that’s it, I believe in it. 

Is that true of everyone here, that they believe in the product? I think so. I’m frequently impressed by how much people do care and want to stay true to that mission. 

Is that unique to Shift? A lot of companies try to come up with mission statements that people can believe in, but I do think that ours is better in some ways. 

Tell me about the culture. How have you gotten along here? Super well. One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was that [my manager] invited me and Dennis to his wedding in New York. I think on a personal level I’m really good friends with the people on my team, I really respect them. What’s cool at Shift, the impact that you have is not strictly technical, you work with a lot of stakeholders and business people, you have to understand how data impacts them. The people are great.

Would you recommend it to your friends? Yes, as I have! [She recruited her friend from college who now works here.] 

When you were first introduced to the idea of shift, what was your impression of the concept? It’s definitely different than most things going on in the used car space, but there are a lot of industries making similar transitions to online and less brick and mortar. The website also looked very nice. 

Do you feel like it’s something that should exist? I haven’t thought about car ownership much for myself, so when I’m giving people my one-line pitch of Shift, frequently their experience seems to be bad, they think it’s obvious that Shift exists. 

Making contributions? The talent here is pretty exquisite, it’s not like you have to shine a spotlight on people having impact, everyone is kicking ass. As someone who’s junior on the team, I feel like my work is having impact. 

Do you foresee staying at Shift? Are you excited for where it’s headed? Definitely. I think we’re going good places. We’re in a good place in that we have a good business plan, and if we can hit our goals, we’re going to keep up. Shift seems like a good thing to invest in (as an employee, and also as a financial backer). 

Anything else? We read all of our reviews, customer feedback is taken really seriously. We really do care not just as a sense of high-level product decisions. It’s not just that. At a granular level, I feel very, very confident that Shift cares about its customers. 

Anything else about being an employee? Some of my friends didn’t grasp the benefits of lunch (free food), apparently that’s a game changer. 

Final thoughts? We really want to keep growing our data science team, and the ability to learn is important. Shift is a good place for that to happen. There’s a lot to do, a lot of really cool problems that we get to tackle, and really good leadership. There’s two senior data scientists with mentorship experience, they want to help the rest of the team grow.

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