#19: Emily Glassberg Sands: Equalizing Access to Rewarding Careers as Head of Data Science at Coursera

Ep 19 – Emily Glassberg Sands

“In the places that need learning the most, the distractions are much more real than Instagram and Netflix. The distractions are ‘I need to feed my family’ and ‘if I don’t earn money my kids will be on the street.’”  

– Emily Glassberg Sands


Emily Glassberg Sands is the Head of Data Science at Coursera – the largest online learning platform for higher education with 35M learners from around the world. Her team leads the quantitative measurement, experimentation, and inference that informs Coursera’s product and business direction.


Emily received her Bachelor’s’ degree in Economics from Princeton University, and then moved on to complete her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. At Harvard, her research focused on experimental and applied methods to better understand labor markets and consumer decision-making.


An economist by training, Emily loves using data to build better, smarter products that have a positive impact on society. In this interview, we discuss the insights into Emily has found in her work at Coursera and how they can be applied to give everyone in the world equal access to education.


We covered topics like:

  • Emily’s journey to a career in science, and how she went from from Montessori school, to the farms of Montana, to an Econ Ph.D at Harvard.
  • How she uses analytics to identify ways to improve the learning experience and provide high quality education worldwide.
  • Emily’s Ph.D research on why companies hire based on referrals and how they performed compared to non-referral hires.
  • What is analytical creativity, how can it be developed, and why is it important for a multi-disciplinary team?
  • What Emily and her team at Coursera have discovered about the learning process and the confidence gap among learners.
  • The behaviours of successful learners and how to change your habits.


Enjoy the show!


Show Notes: https://ajgoldsteindotcom.wordpress.com/podcast/ep19

AJ’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ajgoldstein393/

Emily’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/egsands/

Emily’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilygsands


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