Stephanie Brown had been at Systems Planning and Analysis for almost two years when she saw a familiar face pop up in her LinkedIn inbox: Brant Horio, LMI's director of data science.
The data science group is growing, Horio’s message said. LMI is investing in employee training and securing exciting new projects. Interested?
Brown, a former co-op intern who then joined LMI full time as a supply chain analyst, liked what she heard. A few months later, she returned to LMI as a data science senior consultant.
“I had maintained friendships with several people at LMI, so I knew there had been a lot of changes. Then I saw Brant’s message and wanted to hear his perspective,” she said. “I was very curious.”
Since then, Brown has helped expand the modeling and simulation capabilities of LMI’s Peak Policy and Next Generation inventory optimization tools. She is also leading a new project, enabling machine learning techniques to improve clients’ ability to estimate lead time for delivery of critical parts.
“I’ve been on challenging, interesting projects and had more opportunities to lead, which is exactly what I had hoped for,” said Brown, who had been contemplating a career move that combined data science with her background in operations research. (She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field, the latter earned while working at LMI.)
“I wasn’t actively looking,” she added, “but I knew I enjoyed the inventory and supply chain problems here a lot more.”
Brown is not alone in finding new opportunities at her “old” employer, particularly in LMI’s revamped advanced analytics service line. In the steep competition for technical talent, LMI has benefited from “boomerang employees” like Brown, who appreciated LMI’s culture but needed a different role in which to grow. The new organizational structure, while taking some getting used to, has nurtured that growth.
Shortly after Brown’s arrival in August, Kristen Cheman returned in September in the dual roles of director of data engineering and director of academic outreach.
Cheman, who had been with LMI for more than seven years over two earlier stints, left in 2017 to expand her knowledge about machine learning (in the context of fraud detection) and how those techniques could be applied internally and for customers. Such techniques are at the heart of LMI’s advanced analytics practice, but that wasn’t always the case.
“I guess you could say the advanced analytics component wasn’t there,” she said of her second departure. She was already interviewing for the academic outreach role when Josh Wilson, vice president for advanced analytics, told her about the data engineering position.
“The LMI roles became the perfect blend of partnering with academia, flexing my math muscles, and being a champion for a team of people. It was my dream job,” she said. “I also really missed all the people at LMI.”
In her data engineering role, Cheman has led development of a data science training curricula for practitioners and federal executives, ensuring effective strategy development and implementation of advanced analytical techniques to meet enterprise objectives.
“Historically, LMI has been strong in operations research and modeling and simulation. Since then, our capabilities have grown so that we can also build data pipelines, govern data access and privacy, train machine learning models, visualize insights on interactive dashboards, and develop scalable cloud analytics solutions,” she said. “The team’s increased breadth enables us to help new and existing customers at every point in the advanced analytics workflow.”
The service line’s maturity resulted in a commensurate boost in training opportunities, which enabled Brown to hone her data science and machine learning techniques. It’s a welcome benefit for LMIers new, old, and a little bit of both.
“It was nice coming back to a lot of familiar faces,” Brown said. “It felt like no time had passed. I ran into a few people who were like, ‘Hey, have you been on a client site?’ They never realized I left.”