Inside Bondora – 7 questions with Andres Kuusk

Andres Kuusk

In this edition of “meet our team” we speak with the guy who according to Harvard Business Review has the sexiest job of the 21st century. Meet our very own data scientist and mind sports world champion (aka Andres) – a combination that is extremely powerful.

Why did you join Bondora and what excites you most about this business?

I joined Bondora in September 2015. Previously, I worked in academic spheres (at the University of Tartu and the Bank of Estonia) and as a professional mind sports player – both of these occupations are actually quite different from what most people think of as a “normal job”. Therefore, I started to feel I needed a new challenge and it just so happened that at the same time Bondora was looking for a data scientist. This is how our interests met and the rest is already a history.

What excites me most about the marketplace lending business is that it’s really much more like a real life. Everything that is done here is adding some sort of value from the society’s perspective. This might sound trivial, but it’s unfortunately quite different from how it goes at the university – there one has to write papers & articles that often give you the feeling that the society won’t gain anything from all the effort that you put in.

What do you do here at Bondora?

The data scientist job involves mostly credit modelling. Except from my very first task here, which was scoring of potential new markets, I have been working with loans scoring and pricing models – for example determining the risk level and interest rate of loans. Hmmm, what else do I do here, in addition to modelling? I play table tennis and foosball – a great way to mix work and play.

What are your 3 words to describe Bondora or the everyday life here?

FUN – this is the first word that comes to mind. The tasks are interesting, the people are extremely friendly and I like the monthly company events for all Bondorians.
TEAMWORK – you can feel that people here are working for the same goal. Everyone is part of a team where all the puzzle pieces fit together.
SUCCESS – every year (and every quarter) Bondora reaches new heights. The turnover is increasing, the number of employees is increasing, the productivity of every working unit is increasing – one doesn’t really need much imagination to see that he is part of a successful business.

You are also an investor on Bondora. How long have you been investing here and why did you start?

I started investing on Bondora at the same time I started working here, so from September last year. To be honest, after seeing the expected return figures, starting to invest myself was really a no-brainer.

How do you invest on Bondora – automatically or handpicking loans? And why?

In the beginning I picked loans by hand, but currently I’m almost exclusively using our Portfolio Manager. I know how the algorithm of the Portfolio Manager works and therefore know that it can be trusted. This is also the main reason why I do not handpick loans anymore, and I am satisfied with the risk-return. I guess you could say that I like convenience.

As a Pentamind World Champion (wow!) and a long-distance runner – is there anything about these hobbies that can be applied to investing?

I wouldn’t call myself a long-distance runner, it’s too much pressure. 🙂 I only run for fun – mostly middle-distances and only for the nice company. Here again I have to praise fellow Bondorians who regularly drag me out for some running. But playing mind sports definitely helps in investing – as both need good strategical planning and ability to see several moves ahead. Luckily for Bondora investors, however, sharp strategical eye and intuition is not needed as Portfolio Manager does all the hard work for you. Basically, one just needs to click the “Start investing” button and relax. At least that’s what I am doing!

How does one become a data scientist? What do you have in your secret skill set?

I would like to say that it needs a lot of supernatural skills and lifetime effort, but in reality it’s not as fancy as it sounds. I’m still rather young and have spent half of my life playing mind sports, so I haven’t had too much time to obtain enviably deep data mining skills. My secret skill set? I can open a web browser and type in www.google.com on the address bar.