Tim Lee: From Finance to Data Science

tim lee

“I was working at one of the Big Four banks as a project manager, but I wasn’t getting as hands-on as I would like. It just didn’t scratch the itch to create.”

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With data rapidly growing in importance, the demand for skilled professionals to unlock its potential is soaring. Tim Lee exemplifies this perfectly. While Tim gained years of valuable experience as a Project Manager implementing banking software, he craved a more hands-on, creative role. This desire, combined with the rise of Data Science, led him to Flatiron School. In this blog, Tim shares his inspiring journey, detailing the challenges and triumphs that shaped his successful career shift into data science.

Before Flatiron: What were you doing and why did you decide to switch gears?

“I was working at one of the Big Four banks as a project manager, helping guide the creation of banking software,” Tim explains. “But I wasn’t getting as hands-on as I would like. A large portion of my job was filled with meetings and paperwork. It just didn’t scratch the itch to create.”

At the same time, the world of data science was just beginning to take off. Tim was fascinated by its potential to unlock insights from the ever-growing mountain of data. “The world was generating more and more data, too much for anyone to reasonably process using traditional techniques,” he says. “And along came novel ways of wrangling these huge datasets and transforming them into insights, ideas, and knowledge.” Recognizing this shift, Tim knew he needed to learn more skills to thrive in this new data-driven landscape.

During Flatiron: What surprised you most about yourself and the learning process during your time at Flatiron School?

Enrolling in Flatiron’s February 2020 Data Science bootcamp, Tim was eager to immerse himself in the learning environment. “I lived a few blocks from the downtown Manhattan campus,” he recalls. However, the global pandemic intervened, forcing the program to transition to remote learning just weeks after it began.

While many might find such a sudden shift disruptive, Tim turned it into an opportunity for deep focus. “The entire world was trapped indoors,” he says. “With nothing else to do, I studied the material. I reviewed the lessons. I practiced coding. I took notes (which I still consult sometimes today).”  This dedication turned out to be a defining factor in Tim’s success.

Tim’s final project at Flatiron exemplifies his passion and drive. “I coded an idea that I had even before enrolling in Flatiron,” he reveals. This project, called Moviegoer, aimed to teach computers how to “watch” movies and understand the emotional content within them. “I wrote the algorithm that partitions movies into individual scenes – this algorithm is still being used in Moviegoer today,” Tim says with pride.

After Flatiron: What are you most proud of in your new tech career?

Tim has successfully transitioned back into the finance sector working in Credit Analytics for Pretium Partners, but this time on his own terms. “I returned to the finance sector at a much smaller firm, a hedge fund, where I build quantitative software,” he explains. “I am significantly more hands-on: I know the software I want to make, and I build it.”

While his day job fulfills his creative needs, Tim hasn’t forgotten about Moviegoer. “Aside from that, I’m still working on Moviegoer,” he says. The project continues to evolve, and Tim highlights the progress he’s made: “Imagine the progress when working on something for three years straight!”

Moviegoer: A Passion Project with Real-World Implications

Moviegoer’s purpose is to equip computers with the ability to understand human emotion by feeding them a vast dataset of movies. “Cinema contains an enormous amount of emotional data, waiting to be unlocked,” Tim argues. “They’re a document of how we have conversations, how we live, and how we interact with one another.”  By analyzing movies, Moviegoer can create a comprehensive library of human behavior, providing invaluable data for training AI systems.

Tim’s dedication to Moviegoer underscores his commitment to innovation and his belief in the power of data science to make a positive impact. “Today, the world is alight with buzz about artificial intelligence,” he says. “I’m glad I learned the skills I needed to make this project and got a head-start on its creation – it’s more relevant than ever.”

To get a deeper understanding of Moviegoer’s capabilities, check out these resources:


Tim’s story is a testament to the transformative power of Flatiron School. By providing a rigorous curriculum and a supportive learning environment, Flatiron empowers individuals like Tim Lee to develop the skills and confidence to pursue their passions in the tech industry. Tim’s journey from project manager to data scientist building emotional AI is an inspiring example of what’s possible when ambition meets opportunity.

Inspired By Tim’s Story? Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Tim Lee in a program that sets you apart from the competition.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of May 21, 2024. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

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