Gojek appoints chief data officer as super app rivals zero in on data science

RIDE-HAILING giant Gojek has appointed Sillicon Valley veteran Gautam Kotwal group chief data officer as it beefs up its data science team in Singapore.

Mr Kotwal was formerly chief analytics data officer at American grocery company Albertsons and previously held data, analytics and engineering leadership positions at Netflix and department store retail chain Kohl's.

He was one of the early engineers on the Netflix Streaming team, enabling the company's growth through the launch of streaming services across TV, gaming platforms and mobile, said Gojek.

In his new role, Mr Kotwal will be responsible for managing Gojek's overall data strategy and teams across business intelligence, data engineering, data science and fraud.

"He will also provide integrated oversight for all data-related functions at Gojek, an area that is central to key business decision-making and unlocking new opportunities for the platform and its stakeholders," said the firm in a press statement. Mr Kotwal will report to Kevin Aluwi, the co-founder of Gojek who is overseeing data science and analytics.

Gojek and its rival Grab have been paying close attention to data science as they hotly pursue super app ambitions in South-east Asia.

Earlier this month, The Business Times (BT) reported that the former chief economist of GIC Leslie Teo will move to Grab to work on data science at the tech company. BT understands Dr Teo will begin work at the ride-hailing firm from mid-August.

Grab is also working with local open innovation company Padang & Co to source for tech talent through a region-wide AI (artificial intelligence) challenge, which will see up to 50 participants being offered a full-time job with Grab.

BT understands that there are more than 1,200 participants in the challenge, as at the close of the application portal on Monday.

Meanwhile, Gojek is actively hiring for its data science team. The Indonesian firm first rolled into Singapore in 2017, basing its data science operations in the Republic.

According to LinkedIn job posts, the group is hiring data scientists across several roles, including marketplace, machine learning, financial platform and cartography, which deals with mapping technologies needed by all internal product teams.