Gamer, data lover, fearless problem solver
Data. It’s ubiquitous, powerful, and complex. And for Halee Mason, making sense of it is a passion and a calling.
Halee is the Lead Data Scientist for Cloud9, one of the most successful esports organizations in the world. Her job entails collecting data from their teams’ training and gameplay, and then using AI algorithms to help make informed strategy decisions based on that data. Aside from combining two of her passions—data science and gaming—Halee is now at the forefront of the fast-growing esports industry, which has billions of fans worldwide.
When I was younger, I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. I didn't have it all planned out.Halee Mason
It’s a career she could’ve never imagined as a child, since it didn’t even exist yet when she was growing up in Western New York, where she spent her free time exploring the outdoors, learning about animals, and playing board games with her family. She developed a talent for dog showing that started with teaching tricks to their family golden retriever. It grew into traveling around the US for almost six years doing various shows and agility training. Halee believes this gusto for trying new things and seeing where life takes her has served her well.
“I was trying different things, seeing what I really enjoyed doing, and kind of going from thing to thing … I would get a taste of something and be like, ‘Oh, I really like that,’ or ‘I’m good at that.’ It’s crazy how I got here. My background is very non-linear,” says Halee.
Her “a-ha” moment came during her first job after college, where she worked in a clinical lab analyzing results from specimen tests to determine what kind of leukemia or lymphoma a patient might have. Halee was immediately drawn to piecing together puzzles using data, and it was at that point she knew what she wanted to do as a career. She embarked on a period of self-studying, where she taught herself programming, took classes in the field, and eventually applied for a master’s program that gave her the skills she needed to start her career as a data scientist at Elder Research. Over four years later, she landed the coveted Lead Data Scientist position at Cloud9.
She also feels particularly lucky to have had strong female role models who she could rely on for support and guidance along the way, even though gaming is a particularly male-dominated industry. Halee credits her successful career change with two pieces of wisdom she’s collected from her experiences: 1. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and teach yourself what you want to learn, and 2. If you don’t have a mentor you can look up to, go find one, whether it’s someone at your company or in your community.
“When I get stuck now, I stop and just ask myself these questions: Is this the only way to solve this problem? Have I considered other methods for overcoming this obstacle? And then finally, is there someone who I can ask for help?”
- Halee Mason
Halee’s winding path has given her the ability to try new things, adapt, and tackle new problems without fear. And that’s the advice she gives to other young women who are considering a career like hers: “Don’t be scared … be unapologetically you,” says Halee. “If you love technology or you’re excited by data science or you want to build those predictive models, know that you can do it. The tools are available, you can find a mentor, and have fun doing what you love.”