Sr. Research Scientist- Finance, (University Development)

Western Governors University
Published
January 9, 2021
Location
Atlanta, GA
Category
Job Type

Description

As a Senior Research Scientist, you will have responsibility for financial aid product design and predictive modeling. You will architect model development plans and develop predictive models to accurately forecast earnings potential and financial obligation default of both graduates and non-completers. You will lead all coding developments and enhancements, perform advanced analytics, and survey academic literature related to consumer and education finance. 

 
About University Development –  

The University Development department plays a vital role in WGU’s purpose to change lives for the better by bridging the gap between talent and opportunity.

The department drives WGU toward tenfold transformative impact by identifying the optimal investments of time and resources in initiatives that realize our strategic priorities—and drive these initiatives through launch.

We also facilitate the development of long-term WGU strategy and lead the optimization of the university’s innovation infrastructure. Guided by our mission and current and anticipated strategic objectives, we find and evaluate opportunities across existing and future markets, inform management team decisions, lead deal negotiations, and help manage post-acquisition integration and performance evaluation. The department is responsible for understanding the industry landscape, business strategy, finance and concepts of disruption to help shape and drive deals and integration. 

University Development is deeply committed to being equitable in our processes and impact, creative and future-oriented in our thinking and doing, and responsive to the needs of all stakeholders. We lead through novel data-driven insights and perspectives. We are building a learner-centered education and economic opportunity ecosystem and disrupting current models and institutions that don’t deliver for learners. And we connect with other like-minded and leading thinkers and doers to use our collective financial, social, political, and human capital to accomplish shared objectives.  

Driven by a mission to expand access to higher education, WGU has pioneered a new way to learn in the 21st century, one that receives praise from academic, industry, government, and media leaders. Now, WGU is pioneering affordable education financing solutions. University Development is leading a strategic initiative around alternative financial aid to improve access and affordability for students. 

Position Summary  

As a Senior Research Scientist, you will have responsibility for financial aid product design and predictive modeling. You will architect model development plans and develop predictive models to accurately forecast earnings potential and financial obligation default of both graduates and non-completers.

You will lead all coding developments and enhancements, perform advanced analytics, and survey academic literature related to consumer and education finance.

You’ll have the benefit of working for a large, growing, thriving non-profit university while also getting that start-up, entrepreneurial feel that comes from creatively building innovative, industry-shaping products and services in an iterative, fast-paced environment.

Regardless of whether the development team is in the office, or working from home, it is highly coordinated. The team is comprised of bright and diverse professionals who are experienced with and expected to communicate complex solutions often with corporate-level executives. They are also aggressive learners and optimistic by nature. 

Essential Functions and Responsibilities:  

  • Proposes and conducts quantitative research, discovering insights into student learning, educational attainment, employment and salary outcomes, and financial performance; suggests areas for financial aid research and product development.  

  • Mines large data sets and creates predictive models employing traditional statistical techniques, machine learning algorithms, and stochastic simulations.  

  • Develops Python notebooks and scripts, SQL queries, and other code from scratch and improves existing code. 

  • Surveys academic literature related to consumer and education finance. 

  • Communicates research findings to lay and technical audiences.  

  • Creates reports, visualizations, and other supporting artifacts for internal- and external-facing publication.  

  • Interfaces with internal teams and external partners in the definition and execution of research projects.  

  • Develops and maintains a collaborative relationship with all appropriate internal and external stakeholders. Stays current with trends and emerging techniques in data science, financial modeling, and related fields.  

  • Fulfills other duties as assigned. 

Knowledge, Skill and Abilities  

  • Proven successful history as a data scientist conducting original quantitative research. 

  • Able to conduct self-directed data mining and modeling activities and communicate insights and opportunities to stakeholders. 

  • Given very large data sets, proven experience setting up and maintaining data processes and environments. 

  • Proven expert-level skills working with data using Python, SQL, and other languages such as R, MATLAB, Julia, or Scala within big data environments such as Databricks or Hive. 

  • Proven experience leveraging the following techniques: logistic regression, factor analysis, multiple linear regression, and machine learning classification algorithms such as neural networks, decision trees, and ensemble methods 

  • Proven experience using computational statistics such as Monte Carlo simulations, bootstrapping, and cross-validation 

  • Successful history communicating research findings and ideas to lay and scholarly audiences. 

  • Excellent written, oral, presentation, and interpersonal skills. 

  • Ability to work in a collaborative team and maintain effective relationships. 

  • Understands higher education and education outcomes and metrics. 

  • Strong attention to detail and a feeling of pride and ownership over the quality of  research and student-facing products and applications. 

Qualifications 

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • Master’s degree or higher in quantitative field (Finance, economics, statistics or similar) 

  • Programming, data analysis, predictive modeling expertise in Python  

  • Ability to write and process complex SQL queries 

  • Traditional statistical modeling experience (e.g. multiple linear regression, logistic regression, etc.) 

  • Computational statistics experience (Monte Carlo simulation, bootstrapping, etc.) 

  • Understanding of finance, particularly consumer finance 

  • Excellent communicator for business and technical audiences 

  • 5+ years conducting quantitative research with very large data sets  

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • PhD in quantitative field (finance, economics, statistics, or similar field) 

  • 2+ years in consumer credit risk modeling 

  • Machine learning techniques (tree-based classifications, neural networks, etc.) 

  • Experience with Stata 

  • Experience with big data environments such as Databricks 

  • Experience managing code with Git or another version-control and collaboration platform 

  • Experience working in an agile environment 

Working Conditions  

Travel as needed, up to 10 percent 

Disclaimers: 

WGU University Development, Inc is an affiliated non-profit entity of 501c(3) Corporation of Western Governors University  

This Job Description has been designed to indicate the general nature, essential duties, and responsibilities of work performed by employees within this classification. It does not contain a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and qualifications that are required of the employee to do this job.  Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice. This Job Description does not constitute a contract of employment and the University may exercise its employment-at-will rights at any time. 

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