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VP of Data Science Job Description: What They Do + Frameworks For Hiring

Morgan Lichtenstein
4 min read

In today’s digital landscape, the talk of data analytics, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning seems almost impossible to avoid, as it reflects the rapid evolution of technology shaping our lives.

Amidst this ongoing digital transformation, the role of Vice President of Data Science has gained prominence and popularity as organizations seek to leverage complex, data-driven insights for strategic decision-making and innovation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the role of a VP of Data Science grew 35% from 2022 to 2023, significantly higher than the average. 

Since VPs of Data Science are a relatively newer role, there is still some clarity needed around their job description.

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What Does a VP of Data Science Do? Brief Overview

A Vice President of Data Science is responsible for the implementation of data science initiatives. Typically, this includes overseeing data governance and compliance, using advanced analytics and data-driven insights to drive decision-making, and managing a team of data scientists to achieve business goals.

A VP of Data Science can typically be found in industries such as: 

Discover more of our comprehensive engineering and technology job descriptions in our resource library.


VP of Data Science Key Responsibilities & Duties

Keep in mind that the role of a VP of Data Science is still evolving as it begins to gain more and more popularity in growing, digital organizations. Depending on the stage and size of your organization, duties will slightly differ. For the most part, a VP of Data Science has a high-level set of responsibilities and will:

  • Define, execute, and lead the data science strategy and team in line with the company vision, goals, and objectives.
  • Establish data science initiatives based on potential to drive revenue, improve customer satisfaction, and cost optimization, as well as identify opportunities to improve existing processes.
  • Develop reports, dashboards, and data visualizations to communicate to both technical and non-technical stakeholders at all levels of the organization.
  • Partner with senior executives and other analytics teams to define project scopes, seamlessly integrate data science across the org, and deliver actionable insights.
  • Manage the budget, establish project timelines, and define the department’s KPIs and metrics to assess the impact and effectiveness of data science initiatives.
  • Provide direction and guidance to a high-performing data science team, including regularly assessing and sharing updates on the performance of the team against benchmarks.
  • Oversee strict data management, establish data governance frameworks, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements (such as HIPAA and GDPR) to ensure the security, usability, and integrity of all sensitive data.
  • Stay at the forefront of the industry by exploring and implementing new tools, techniques, and methodologies to solve complex data challenges.
  • Foster a culture of innovation, continuous improvement, and agility, encouraging team members to pursue new research and development and explore nuanced ideas.

What Qualifications Should VPs of Data Science Have? Skills, Education, and Experience 

Although the specific requirements and qualifications will vary across organizations, exemplary candidates for a VP of Data Science role will possess the following: 

  • A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in computer science, statistics, or related field.
  • A proven track record of at least X+ years of experience (dependent on company) in data engineering, data analysis, or related roles with increasing levels of responsibility. 
  • Deep technical knowledge and expertise in data modeling, machine learning algorithms, and data mining techniques. 
  • Excellent interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills with experience in leading high-performing teams and collaborating with cross-functional teams.
  • Strong analytical and creative problem-solving skills to solve business challenges using data-driven insights or approaches. 
  • Ability to understand complex data sets and translate technical concepts into actionable insights or recommendations for stakeholders.
  • Experience in robust project management, including effective resource management, risk management, and budgeting to ensure the successful delivery of projects.
  • Knowledge of data privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA to ensure the protection of sensitive information and data science projects.
  • Proficiency with programming languages such as Python, R, or Java for effective data analysis and modeling. 


Does My Company Need a VP of Data Science? 3 Frameworks and the Questions To Ask

You might be wondering if now is the time to hire a VP of Data Science. The decision to bring on a high-level, digital executive isn’t a light one, so it’s best to develop a helpful framework and formulate probing questions to assist in your decision-making process. Here are three frameworks to consider and questions to ask when deciding: 

The Business Impact Framework

  • How critical is data-driven decision-making to achieving our company's strategic objectives? Are we being held back from achieving a goal because of the lack of usable data?
  • What are the specific business strategies or goals where advanced data analytics and predictive modeling could greatly benefit or help drive our outcomes?
  • Do we have processes that need innovation and optimization, which could unlock new revenue streams?

The Resource Framework

  • What talent do we currently have on hand? Do we already have the internal expertise to effectively analyze and activate our data assets? 
  • What are the potential risks and costs associated with both having, and not having, a leader overseeing our data science projects?
  • Do we have the proper environment, team, and support in place to properly onboard and integrate a new leader?

The Competition Framework

  • Are there market opportunities or customer demands we can better address and capture through data-driven insights? If so, what are they?
  • What do we miss out on or risk by not investing in proper data science leadership?
  • How could a VP of Data Science impact our ability to adapt and grow in our market?
  • How do we currently fare against our competitors and what gaps can we fill in the market through the use of advanced analytics and data science techniques?


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