Product Academy Fall 2017: Data Science

We’re just going to come out and say it, Product Academy isn’t for the faint of heart. Only the top 90 of our most dedicated employees were accepted to participate in this elite, two-day academy in Austin. Data Science was the theme for this session, and it was a big “how-to” guide for applying data analytics and science to your job.


The beauty of Product Academy is that all it takes is an interest in the topic and a little old-fashioned hard work. Prior to this session, anyone interested in attending took an “Intro to Data Science” course and completed either a coding challenge or conceptual assignment. With over 400 applicants from around the world, the difficulty of the assignment was designed to spotlight those who really put in the extra effort.  


The room was buzzing on the first morning of Product Academy as attendees settled in at the venue with breakfast and special Product Academy swag. Justin Rao, HomeAway’s VP Economist, opened the session with icebreakers, an overview of the curriculum, and an introduction to the keynote speaker, Susan Athey.


Athey is a world-renowned economist and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. The group was hooked on her lecture as she talked about the evolution of marketplaces and used examples from companies like EBay and Xbox.



“She understands deeply the challenges of creating a marketplace.”

- CPO, Tina Weyand, on keynote speaker, Susan Athey

Product Manager, Ben James said, “Susan was incredible, my head was spinning and I’ve got so many questions and thoughts after her lecture.”

On day two, attendees got to dig into the data and focus on reverse engineering a product. They were given a prediction challenge and they had to use the data set, make a prediction on the net booking value for 3 months of unseen data, and enter their prediction for a chance to win $1,000.

Dawn Wano, Director of Product Management for the APAC team, flew in from Sydney to attend this session. She said, “One of the most impressive things about this Product Academy is that we are coming together to address issues that we are facing on a global level and we’re collaborating with people from around the business.”


While this is just one of several professional development programs offered at HomeAway, it has quickly become a favorite among employees. Product Academy will be a quarterly event in 2018, giving Team HomeAway plenty of opportunities to expand their knowledge outside of their day-to-day jobs.


If you are a HomeAway employee, be sure to sign up for the Product Academy member email group to receive updates about upcoming sessions. If you’re interested in applying for an upcoming session click here.


If you are interested in joining Team HomeAway, visit our careers page to explore job opportunities.  

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