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My Journey at FARFETCH as a Plug-In

By Gonçalo Biscaia
Gonçalo Biscaia
Active learner. Cars and computers enthusiast. Always cruising with my Ray-Ban glasses.
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My Journey at FARFETCH as a Plug-In
Hello, future Plug-Ins,

My name is Gonçalo Biscaia, I have a master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and I am a Junior Data Scientist in the Operations team at Farfetch. As a former Plug-In, I will tell you about my experience, as well as my journey at Farfetch so far.

My path to becoming a Junior Data Scientist at Farfetch started when I was taking my master’s degree in May 2018. I had to implement a machine-learning algorithm to predict if a wooden piece was well welded in a robotics and manufacturing class. After this project, I spoke with my professor and decided to do my master’s thesis in the field of artificial intelligence, where I implemented a deep reinforcement learning agent to optimize the production speed of a factory.

Meanwhile, I attended a seminar which had the goal of networking with different companies in order to find a job in the future. At this seminar, I had to give a pitch about myself to different companies, and one of them was Farfetch.

After the workshop, Farfetch invited me to go to an interview for a different job position, outside of the Data Science area. When I first arrived at the Docas Office in Lisbon, I was truly amazed, because of the modern technology company vibe, with the gaming room, the open space with boards for people to brainstorm, the sleeping rooms, the cinema area and other characteristics of the office. This, along with other factors, made Farfetch the number one company in my ranking.

But, because I wanted a job in Data Science, I was presented with an alternative: the Plug-In program. I really liked Farfetch, and after some research, I found some projects that the company was working on and realized that besides selling luxury fashion, Farfetch was implementing state of the art technology in this market, which increased my desire to work there.

I decided to send my application for the Plug-In program. At first, I had to fill a google form with different questions, then I was called to participate in a hackathon, where we had to work in teams, to develop a small proof of concept for a project. And after the hackathon, I was called for an interview in the D. Luís office, in Lisbon. Sometime after the interview, fortunately, I received confirmation that I had been chosen to join the program.

My Experience in the Plug-In Program

The Plug-In program consists of a traineeship program, in which each Plug-In (trainee) will join a team, within the desired area, and work on one of their projects. In addition, the program has a learning component, where each Plug-In has the opportunity to enrol in different courses and workshops. During the program, a mentor was assigned to each one of us, to support and give feedback about our performance. 

The Plug-In program started with a 15 day trip to the Farfetch Lionesa office in Porto. When I arrived at the office, I was overwhelmed by the size of it, and similarly to the other Farfetch offices that I had visited, it had a modern technology company vibe, which I liked a lot.

The purpose of this trip was for us to learn how the processes behind Farfetch works, and to get to know the other trainees and do activities together.

This was my first experience at Farfetch and I noticed three things that pleased me: one of them, was the fact that Farfetch wanted us to know how all the processes work, making us feel part of the bigger picture and giving us a broader perspective about the company. The second one was the fact that all the Plug-In trainees were friendly and easy-going, which made the process of getting to know each other much easier. The third one was the commitment that I felt from the Farfetchers to us, as Plug-Ins.

After the inductions in the Lionesa office, we went back to our Lisbon offices to meet the teams and start working. I went to the Data Science Operations Team, in the D. Luis Office in Lisbon. The integration process was really easy, everyone was friendly and eager to help and I immediately felt integrated with the team.

Since Data Science was a new field to me, before working on the project, I had a learning period to get to know more about the area and get used to everything. During this time, the team gave me all the space to learn at my own pace.

My first project was included in the Returns project. The machine learning model used in this initiative was trained to predict whether a client is going to return an order or not. Besides that, it can be used as a forecasting tool to predict how future returns will behave - in general, by country, by a certain product category, and more.

The main objective of my project was to create a machine learning algorithm that could predict a feature used in the Returns project, so it could be possible to fill the missing values of this feature. By doing this project, I understood how the team worked and the flow of a Data Science project development.

One thing that I really value in the team, regarding project development flow, is the space for creativity and critical thinking. It allows us to learn and use different feature engineering approaches or try new machine learning algorithms, giving us the space to be creative, learn the state of the art algorithms, and approach the various projects in different ways.

Becoming a Farfetcher

One of the first things we learn at Farfetch is our core values. Farfetch has six core values:
  • Be Brilliant
  • Be Human
  • Todos Juntos
  • Think Global
  • Be Revolutionary
  • Amaze Customers
At first, I was sceptical when I heard that these values were very important in the company and lived on a daily basis, but as the time went by I started noticing that this was actually true. 

Farfetch is a technology company in a very traditional market - luxury fashion - so values like Be Brilliant, Be Revolutionary and Think Global are used all the time. But, for me, the more important values are Be Human and Todos Juntos, which are applied many times in our day-to-day life. 

I noticed this because people are friendly and polite, always eager to help each other, the company always considers its employees in the best possible way, by being flexible, rewarding hard-working people and providing all the conditions we need to do our best work. Besides that, the company is always trying to help the community, by offering Farfetchers volunteering days, giving back to the community, our commitment to sustainability and to helping our partners, for example with the #supportboutiques movement, created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am really enjoying my experience at Farfetch so far. I am able to work in the area that I wanted, with space for creativity and learning, surrounded by amazing people, in a company that acknowledges my value, rewards hard work, is flexible, promotes a healthy work/personal life balance and where I can be confident and talk about my issues, problems and doubts without being scared. For all of these reasons, I would highly recommend joining the Plug-In program, so you can begin your Farfetch journey too! 
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