Employee Spotlight: Data Analytics Team Lead Vytautas Šlenfuktas
Welcome back to the Employee Spotlight interview series by Atlas VPN! This time, we’re excited to feature Vytautas Šlenfuktas, our Data Analytics Team Lead. Vytautas is an integral part of the Atlas VPN team, and his expertise in data analysis has played a crucial role in driving the company's growth and success.
Throughout this interview, Vytautas shares insights into his role as the Data Analytics Team Lead and the most important skills for anyone pursuing this career.
What inspired you to pursue a career in data analytics?
I’ve been very good at math since childhood — I participated and won first place in all kinds of competitions and olympiads. So after graduating from high school, I considered two options — pursue a software engineering path or continue developing math skills.
As pure math isn’t very applicable, I decided to go with a mix of those two — I studied applied mathematics, and I had parallel computer science studies.
While studying, analytics, big data, and data science started booming. All those buzzwords were everywhere, and data analytics seemed very suitable for me because it’s a mix of solving business problems and applying math and statistics knowledge.
Could you tell us more about your role as the Data Analytics Team Lead at Atlas VPN and your responsibilities?
We’re not a big company, so the data analyst here is a jack- of- all- trades — more than half of our work is ad-hoc tasks. Our team is constantly helping other team members by providing necessary data. My day-to-day responsibilities include close work with the product and finance teams. But my primary responsibilities are in marketing —- ensuring data quality, maintaining our data pipelines, calculating core metrics, and, most importantly —- solving business problems and helping to grow the product. I’m also responsible for distributing the workload for my team and ensuring that the most important things are done on time.
What do you consider to be the most important skills for a data analyst, and how do you develop those skills?
Many would say that skills like SQL, python, and statistics are the most important here, but I would argue that these are the easiest skills to learn.
In my opinion, you have to be very curious about what you’re doing, and you have to know everything about product and marketing because background knowledge is fundamental when it comes to looking for patterns or even calculating basic metrics — you could get totally wrong answers when you don’t know small details.
Also, I think that presentation, visualization, and explaining complex things in simple terms are critical skills for a data analyst. The best way to develop the skills is by practice. I believe that taking responsibility and extra ownership is beneficial for the company, but even more for yourself.
Are there any books, YouTube videos, or other resources you would recommend for those interested in Data Analytics?
Yes, sure! Although I’m a guy who always buys many books and bookmarks a lot of articles and YouTube videos and never reads or watches them, I have several recommendations.
Every data analyst must read “Storytelling with Data” by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. An excellent book that explains the fundamentals of visualizing data for presentations or dashboards. Spoiler alert — if you’re using a pie chart — don’t do it. This book is really easy to read, and I think it’s worth reading for everyone — not just analysts.
Another book suitable for everyone is “The Art of Statistics. Learning from Data” by David Spiegelhalter. It’s a book that explains statistics used in our daily life in straightforward terms. You’ll learn why it’s enough to get only a few thousand respondents in political surveys, and those surveys will be representative.
And a final read — “The Data Warehouse Toolkit” by Ralph Kimball. Not the easiest read, but a fundamental book for data people. It teaches you the best practices of data modeling and describes many case studies from the real world.
Other resources are not very analytical, but I highly recommend Numberphile and 3blue1brown YouTube channels. They explore pure maths in a fascinating way. Also, 3blue1brown develops impressive visualizations.
If you had to describe data analytics in just one word, what would it be and why?
It’s a mess. Data is dirty. You’re always missing some chunk of it, and you always doubt and question whether everything is okay with it. When you see fancy charts, you may think, "That’s so cool and easy," but it’s not that amazing in the background.
How do you stay creative and innovative when working with data analytics, and what strategies do you use to think outside the box?
We have so much data from various sources but limited resources, so it’s tough not to be creative when you’re so curious and waiting to dive into it deep. Also, I try to follow the newest trends and releases of data tools to apply them in practice. Besides that, If I read any interesting fact or thing, I always try to use it in my daily work.
For example, I read about Benford’s law which states that in many real-life examples of numerical data, the first digit of a number is likely to be small. Immediately I tried to apply that in our fraud protection, but unfortunately unsuccessfully.
Besides that, the best way to be innovative and think outside the box is by communicating with other people. For instance, my colleagues are very bright and have great ideas. It’s comfortable to close in on yourself, but in the end, you will be stuck in the same ideas loop and won’t generate anything new.
What’s the best thing about working at Atlas VPN?
It’s the people. I have amazing colleagues from whom I can learn new things about marketing, tech, and life. They always help you without any hesitation or complaint. Some of them became my best friends outside the work environment.
Also, I’ve been with Atlas VPN since its early days, so I’ve learned so many things. Still, I continue to keep learning because everything changes so fast, and I can see how all the changes we’re working on affect our numbers with my own eyes.
Could you share a fun fact about yourself that most people don't know?
I’ll flex a bit, but I won 1st place in Lithuania’s Kengūra (math competition).