Shaping Your Data Science Strategy

with Youssef Idelcaid

In Episode 15 of Contextual Intelligence, we interview Youssef Idelcaid, the senior director of data science for Commercial, Medical and Government Affairs at Genentech. Before Genentech, Youssef spent the last decade driving AI and digital projects at L’Oreal and Levi Strauss. Now, he’s leveraging his experience from the early-adopter retail industry to shape the data science strategy for one of the world’s leading biotechs.

Listen as he shares what surprised him most about his transition from retail to life sciences, his best advice for getting started with AI, and how he decides when to stay in-house and when to outsource data science projects. This episode is full of fresh perspectives, but if you’re short on time, start with our list of key takeaways below.

Key Takeaways 

[9:16] – What surprised Youssef most when he transitioned from retail to life sciences

The technical resources are further along than you think. More than anything, progress hinges on mindset shifts. 

[12:13] – How the life sciences industry can begin to humanize AI for its users

Developing the kind of confidence that consumers place in Netflix or Google Maps is a question of control. 

[13:19] – Why transparency is critical for building trust and driving adoption

“As long as I can tell the machine what to do and override what the machine is doing, then we’re friends. But if I have zero control—if I have the impression that I’m dealing with a black box—that’s where we lost trust in AI and machine learning.”

[15:34] – Youssef’s guiding principle for driving transformation

Dream big. Start small.

[17:13] – Start, fail fast, iterate. Youssef’s tips for getting started with AI.

Stop waiting for data perfection, adopt a lean startup approach, and don’t be afraid to augment internal capabilities with outside partners. 

[19:36] – Deciding where to focus in-house analytics resources and when to rely on outside partners

Both have their strengths. A hybrid model where both solutions co-exist marries scale and rapid execution with internal expertise about the brand and the business. 


[30:32] – Youssef’s addition to your reading list

Why Youssef recommends Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom.


About Contextual Intelligence

Contextual Intelligence is a podcast by Aktana that conducts discussions with smart and interesting people from different avenues of life sciences and artificial intelligence. Focused on important, relevant topics within the industry, the podcast shares learnings from industry experts that you can apply to your own business situations.