Oportun Inc

Head of AI/Chief Data Scientist

Job description

Position Overview:
As the Head of AI/Chief Data Scientist, reporting directly to the CEO, you will be responsible for driving Oportun’s AI strategy and execution of that strategy. You will lead and grow the data science team responsible for further developing Oportun’s AI driven intellectual property used for managing risk, fraud, pricing and direct marketing for customers that often lack a traditional credit score. Your team will play a critical role in managing risk, profitability, marketing effectiveness, customer experience and fraud at Oportun. In addition, you will expand the data science team and collaborate with other areas of the business to lead the ideation, design, development, and deployment of additional AI/Machine Learning (ML) use cases such as personalization and recommendation systems, customer care and enable rapid experimentation.

The mission of this role is to expand the use of AI/ML as Oportun continues on its journey of being an AI-driven, digital-first company. As the Head of AI/Chief Data Scientist, you will drive innovation by forming strong partnerships with business and technology leaders to drive customer engagement and improve the customer experience. In this role, you’ll be central to determining Oportun’s vision and strategy for AI/ML applications that will further Oportun’s competitive advantage in serving customers who often lack access to mainstream financial services.

The ideal Head of AI/Chief Data Scientist candidate will have a demonstrated track record of building high performing teams and delivering scalable data infrastructure and AI/ML driven solutions. The Head of AI/Chief Data Scientist must have a passion for developing a team culture that inspires excellence in driving business results through collaboration. We encourage our teams to take end-to-end responsibility from conceptualization of ideas to implementation and then to measure the business impact to drive the highest levels of personal accountability.
  • Responsible for owning and driving Oportun's AI strategy
  • Build and deliver a comprehensive AI/ML roadmap for Oportun’s customer base from brand awareness, marketing and origination to customer care that will engage customers and maintain long customer relationships across Oportun’s products
  • Partner with business leaders and product managers in problem framing and conceptualization of ideas, develop consensus, and execute on a prioritized AI/ML roadmap for various use cases
  • Lead, build and mentor data science team that solve business problems leveraging AI/ML
  • Oversee all phases of AI/ML development, from design, data gathering, training, validation and implementation
  • Expand the use of dynamically updated AI/ML models
  • Actively identify and manage model risks in line with model risk management policies
  • Manage a suite of data science tools/platforms (i.e., Jupyter Notebook), pipelines and reusable code that maximizes productivity and knowledge sharing across the data science team
  • Partner with data engineers to build a continuous data capture service leveraging AWS Kinesis and expand feature store to include new families of data and real-time streaming data
  • Collaborate with data and machine learning engineers to design and develop scalable machine learning systems (i.e., building a model execution service leveraging MLflow and SageMaker) to improve speed to market and operate with scale in production.
  • Partner with a cross-functional team of data engineers, machine learning engineers and product managers to launch AI/ML solutions into production
  • Create automated AI and model performance monitoring that aligns with model risk management policy
  • 5-10 years of experience leveraging cloud-based machine learning, data infrastructure and automation to deliver AI/ML driven solutions to solve business problems
  • Master’s or Ph.D. in Math or Technology (computer science, computer engineering, economics, applied math, statistics, engineering, or other quantitative fields)
  • 5-10 years of experience building and managing high performing data science teams including recruitment, career development, mentoring and talent management. Ability to build a large international data science team across multiple time zones.
  • 5-10 years of experience in leveraging modern machine learning toolset and programming languages such as Python, R or Scala
  • Proven reputation as a highly credible and collaborative partner to business leaders, engineering, and product management teams
  • 5-10 years of experience leveraging various machine learning algorithms (e.g., Gradient Boosting, Random Forest, Bayesian Optimization, neural networks, etc.)
  • A relentless problem solver and out of the box thinker with a proven track record of driving business results
  • Comfortable in a high-growth, dynamic, fast-paced and agile environment
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to work well with executives and to collaborate cross-functionally and lead through influence across functional and organizational lines


  • Experience with financial systems, payment systems and/or credit decisioning systems, preferably in loans or similar products.

Company Overview:
Oportun (Nasdaq: OPRT) is a financial services company and digital platform that provides responsible consumer credit to hardworking people in the United States. Using A.I.-driven models that are built on years of proprietary customer insights and billions of unique data points, we have extended millions of loans and billions of dollars in affordable credit to consumers, the majority of whom live in low-and moderate-income communities. Since about half of our new customers come to Oportun without a FICO score, we play a key role in the communities we serve by being able to offer them an affordable and credit-building alternative to payday and auto title lenders. In recognition of our responsibly designed products which help consumers build their credit history, Oportun has been certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) since 2009.

With headquarters in California and a remote-first corporate culture, our 3,000+ team members work in Oportun locations and remotely throughout the United States, Mexico, and India. Our global operations include our Mexico contact centers and administrative offices, our India technology development center, and our US corporate, technology, and retail operations.

We feel privileged to have been named a “Top Workplace” by the Bay Area News Group for three years running, one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the World for 2020 and recognized as a TIME Magazine 2018 Genius Company for our impact in helping to reinvent the future of lending. For the last three consecutive years, we have been titled Top Workplace by the Bay Area News Group.

Working at Oportun means enjoying a differentiated experience of being part of a team that fosters a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture where we all feel a sense of belonging and are encouraged to share our perspectives. This inclusive culture is directly connected to our organization's performance and ability to fulfill our mission of delivering affordable credit to those left out of the financial mainstream. We celebrate and nurture our inclusive culture through our employee resource groups and our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Council.

We are proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and consider all qualified applicants for employment opportunities without regard to race, age, color, religion, gender, caste, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other category protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate.

We encourage you to apply for this position even if you do not match all the qualifications listed for this position. At Oportun, we will consider all experience on a candidate’s application, and we are committed to building a team that encompasses a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

We will also consider those with criminal histories consistent with the requirements of applicable laws in the locations where the role will be based such as the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance and the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance when hiring for roles in locations with such laws.

We are committed to providing reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with disabilities in our job application process. Applicants in need of special assistance or accommodation during the application or interview process or in accessing our website may contact us by sending an email to talent@oportun.com. Please include your name and preferred method of contact in your email. Please also note that this email address is for requests for assistance only and not for the submission of applications or resumes, which will not be considered through this channel.

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