W&L alumnus and Spotify data analyst gives virtual talk

Anneliese Schneider

Logan Wilson, ’17, spoke about his work at Spotify and the skills that helped him get there in a March 23 virtual address to Washington and Lee University students, 

Wilson works on the product insights team at Spotify, using real work data to shape what users see when they open the app. 

“All content you see on the home page is, for the most part, an algorithmic decision, to put the thing in front of you that we think you are likely to stream if you see it,” Wilson said. 

After graduating from Washington and Lee in 2017 with degrees in engineering and mathematics, Wilson chose to continue his education through Northwestern’s analytics program. 

During the talk, Wilson gave advice to those who are also interested in the field of data science. 

“You have to be really good at the basic stuff,” he said. “Good technical background, and good product thinking are the keys.”

The data science minor at Washington and Lee is relatively new. According to the program’s mission statement, the goal is “[to provide students] a deeper understanding of how to analyze and extract meaning from data to learn more about the world, society and their discipline.”

Wilson said he finds working with data meaningful. 

“From my own perspective, I do feel that the work I do, it does support the health of the music industry overall,” he said. 

He also said the skills he learned at Washington and Lee helped prepare him for his current job. 

“Honestly one of the most valuable skills for a data scientist at Spotify, or elsewhere, is to be able to discuss complex problems,” he said. “Being able to talk to these complex ideas and being able to communicate them, it’s a really hard thing to do, and it doesn’t take any technical training. It takes the ability to talk about things and articulate complex thoughts. That’s why any liberal arts course at W&L is good.” 

Syed Rafay Hassan, ‘22, attend the talk.

 “I think the talk with Logan should serve to break any notions about tech as this esoteric field where only high-skilled programmers can thrive,” Hassan said. “Tech is for anyone and everyone who’s willing to use the tools it provides to make life both more efficient and more meaningful.”

While acknowledging the sometimes controversial impact of technology today, Hassan argued the best way to combat the dangers of technology is to understand it. 

“True, there’s a strong argument to be made as to tech and tech firms becoming problematic influences,” he said. “ But that should not turn us away from the myriad ways in which tech has improved our lives. In fact, if we are really concerned about the dangers of tech, then we have all the more reason to increase our technological awareness.”