Employee Deep Dive: Jakob Graff – Master of Analysis
“Then I press the button, the programme runs for an hour, I go out, have a coffee, come back and the result is ready. That’s what fascinated me so much about programming.” — Jakob Graff, Head of Product Analytics at Inkitt.
Jakob comes to the interview with his guitar on his back. He hasn’t touched the instrument for many years, but for the last three years he’s been playing intensively again. When something grabs him, he does it with great passion, almost “obsessively”, as he would explain it himself. “Especially in my free time, I can get into things quickly.”
In contrast, his choice of studies was pragmatic, at first. He studied mechanical engineering and business administration because the career prospects were good and he kept two options open with economics and engineering.
The idea that he would eventually take the completely different path as a data manager only became apparent late in his studies. He did programming and dealt with data and statistics during his studies, but that was on the side.
His “aha” moment, as he calls it, comes during his Master’s degree.
He is studying Economics and Management Science at Humboldt University and works as a student assistant. In his job, he deals with mathematical optimization and has to program regularly. He gains routine and the self-confidence to face complex analytical problems. And here he experiences for the first time how he can master the data and therefore come up with the right solutions.
“I then really found fun in it: I program something. Then I press the button, the programme runs for an hour, I go out, have a coffee, come back and the result is ready. That’s what fascinated me so much about programming.”
He describes his first time at Inkitt when there was a deterioration in a key KPI that no one could explain. Finding the explanation for that, he compares it to detective work. He makes a hypothesis, tests it, confirms it or throws it away. He makes new hypotheses, checks them. Finally he finds a lead and in the end the cause of the issue. “That’s when I was in a really good mood all day. That’s one of those typical experiences, which still fascinates me about data analysis.”
In conversation, Jakob formulates precisely and considers exactly what he says and how he says it.
Does he like to be in control of things?
Yes, in a way he does.
It excites him to learn new things and to master them better and better. Just as he now tames the data at Inkitt to find the right audience for the stories with efficient analyses.
And where does his passion currently lie in his spare time?
He’s tinkering with the perfect pizza. In the wake of the pandemic, he bought a gas oven that can reach 500 degrees and with which “you can get decent results”. He laughs when he tells us that he has already cancelled plans with friends because he had to take care of his dough. Jakob does things all the way or not at all.
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