Data Science Lead
Job Type Full Time
Qualification BA/BSc/HND
Location Nairobi
Job Field ICT / Computer
IDinsight is hiring an inaugural Data Science Lead to grow and build a dynamic data science team that uses cutting edge tools to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges – extreme poverty, infant mortality, food security, climate change, and beyond. IDinsight is primed to play a leading role in the growing “AI4Good” / “Machine Learning 4 Good” movement. We partner with with large scale social sector organizations to utilize world class data collection, research design, and policy implementation support – necessary conditions to realize the full potential of powerful technical tools and maximum impact on lives around the world.

We are seeking a passionate technical leader who is focused on using her or his skills for the improvement of many lives. Our Data Science Lead must be creative, think outside the box, thrive in entrepreneurial settings and be seeking a role with an organization looking to rewrite rules and make big bets. The Data Science Lead will have latitude and responsibility for creatively seeking innovative ways to apply these products to new contexts.

As part of the Innovation team, the Data Science Lead will be the technical lead for all things machine learning at IDinsight. This will include hiring, managing, and mentoring more junior data science staff, setting and maintaining organizational quality standards, doing direct coding and model design work, and partnering with clients to develop and execute high quality projects. You and the team you lead will build algorithms and other data science products that help locate out of school children, predict the spread of disease, identify infants with high mortality risk, or make credit scoring possible for the unbanked for the first time.

Finally, the Data Science Lead will play an important role in the internal development of machine learning products to improve IDinsight’s data collection operations for large scale surveying. This includes algorithms used to predict and flag low data quality, produce representative samples and more.

IDinsight’s reason for being is improving lives around the world, so can guarantee incredibly meaningful work battling some of the world’s most complex international development challenges around the world.

We have a strong preference to staff this position in one of our offices in Asia or Africa. For exceptional candidates, we will consider US-based staff (San Francisco or Washington, D.C.) with extensive travel to other IDinsight offices. All projects and future teammates will be based in field offices.

About the Role

The Data Science Lead will have an exciting opportunity to help build IDinsight’s growing data science team and lead highly impactful, ground breaking projects with our partners. We are working to build IDinsight into a global leader in the use of machine learning to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. You will join a growing team of other data scientists and data engineers that will work together with our team of social scientists to best help our clients achieve greater social impact. The day-to-day work will include everything from working with clients to understand their needs and to imagine what’s possible, guiding junior staff in the wrangling of government or client data, leading the design and testing of various algorithms, and working with others to test and deploy these solutions for use by those most in need.

We are seeking candidates who have already spent 6 to 10 years in industry or in applied research and are eager to apply those skills to new problems. Strong candidates will have a strong background in Python, experience leading successful data science teams, and a passion for building solutions to difficult social problems.

Career development

Professional development for our technical roles is essential for IDinsight’s long-term impact. With support from IDinsight leadership, the employee will maintain self-directed professional development plans and will be given “stretch” opportunities designed to strengthen their professional skills. Real-time feedback and structured reviews are regularly provided to maximize each data scientist’s expertise. IDinsight’s entrepreneurial culture allows roles and career progression to be tailored to individual strengths, interests, and goals. Employees have the opportunity to increase responsibilities, and high performers will have to opportunity to move up in the organization along technical, managerial, or client-facing paths.

Opportunities to protect a small portion of time for the candidate to work on their own research agenda may be possible.

Required Qualifications

  • Proficiency working in Python is required. Please do not apply if you are not familiar with working in Python.
  • 6+ years working in data science in industry or applied research in academia
  • Deep experience with supervised machine learning algorithms (both deep learning and non-deep learning approaches) and with both structured and unstructured data (ex. tabular administrative data, satellite imagery, text etc.)
  • Experience building & leading data science teams and mentoring junior staff
  • Experience with the design and delivery of a product from start to finish
  • Proven ability to work alone and with teams in a dynamic, multicultural environment
  • Passion for improving lives through evidence-informed policy
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English. Fluency in languages spoken in countries where
  • IDinsight works is a plus
  • Strong values aligned with IDinsight’s stated values.
  • Ability and interest in sharing knowledge, mentoring others, presenting work and reviewing the work of others
  • Willingness to put in extra effort when required to meet deadlines
    Preferred Qualifications
  • Previous exposure to international development work
  • The most competitive applicants will also have experience in one or more of the following:
  • Experience working on optimization (ex. Linear programming) and clustering problems (ex. K-means clustering)
  • Experience working with various database structures, custom APIs and AWS products like RDS, EC2, and Lambda
  • Experience working on geospatial problems and with GIS software such as QGIS
  • Experience working with satellite imagery / remote sensing data
  • Locations

This position is located in one of IDinsight’s existing offices, with possibility of extensive travel dependent on project needs. The most likely offices for this position are New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal; Johannesburg, South Africa, or Lusaka, Zambia. For exceptional candidates, locations in San Francisco or Washington, D.C. with extensive travel are possible.


Compensation is commensurate with relevant experience and background, and competitive within the social sector. Please note, as a non-profit, we are unable to provide compensation similar to leading US technology firms. Our compensation is competitive in the countries we work.

Start Dates

The start date of this position is flexible, but the ideal candidate will start in early 2020. We expect a minimum two-year commitment, and potential for a long-term career at IDinsight.


Applications should include three references, including email, phone, and title. Briefly state in what capacity you worked with each reference. Candidates who have written references (especially as part of the academic job market) are asked to have them sent to us.


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About IDinsight

IDinsight is an international development organization that helps policymakers and managers make socially impactful decisions using rigorous evidence. We carefully tailor a wide range of analytical and quantitative tools to enable our clients to design better policies, rigorously test those ideas, and take informed action at scale to improve lives. Our services include experimental evaluation methodologies - including, but not limited to, randomized controlled trials - tailored to the priorities of international development decision-makers; monitoring and performance management systems to facilitate continuous data-driven improvement; policy design consulting and scale-up support.