Article | by Julia Protesaru

Interview with... Data Scientist Holly Emblem

We had a fireside chat with Holly talking about her role at Xbox Game Studio Rare and the exciting projects she works on for Microsoft

Holly is a Data Scientist for Rare, an Xbox Game Studio, part of the Microsoft family. Her expertise in the field has resulted in many public talks on data and insights, so when the time came, we invited her to be a speaker for Tonic Digital: Measuring customer experiences. To our delight, Holly accepted our invitation, and with that came a short interview diving a bit more into her role and what she will cover at Tonic...




Q: Tell us a bit about your journey before Microsoft

A: I’m super fortunate to have worked in lots of different industries, which has been very cool! While obtaining my degree I worked for a gaming company and stayed there for a few years after, learning lots about digital and product.

I then went to work at Penguin Random House as an analyst, which offered awesome exposure to working across lots of different products and teams. Here, I also learnt about the strength of connections, as I was super fortunate to work with lots of talented individuals from across the globe on some fantastic books and apps.

After this, worked client & agency side within digital analytics and then eventually data science at a few different locations in the Midlands. In particular, I had a great time learning and growing at Virgin Media with their super savvy digital & analytics teams. Then I moved over to Rare, which is an Xbox game studio located in Atherstone.

I feel like my different experiences allowed me to understand what I found most important when it comes to roles, responsibilities and culture, and Rare has really allowed me to thrive.


Q: What’s your favourite part of your role at Microsoft?

A: There’s so much! First off, we’re a super innovative game studio that really prioritises player value and experiences, so to be part of such a user-centric organisation is an absolute dream.

Then, from a technology point of view, we’re really encouraged to innovate and try new solutions, which is just fantastic for a technologist.

Finally, the people are awesome: I’ve worked at lots of places which have talked about culture to varying degrees of success, but at Rare it is less of a marketing mantra and more of a genuine commitment.


Q: What’s an interesting project you’re currently working on?

A: For the past month or two we’ve been digging into using machine learning to identify the most impactful player experiences. Sea of Thieves offers players so many different adventures and special moments; so quantifying these can be tricky! However, our team has been working hard to try and gauge the impact of these moments and pairing this with user research to understand the underlying why.


Q: In your opinion, what are the top 3 things a company to keep in mind when measuring customer experience?

A: Measurements are often a proxy for the true customer (or player in our instance) voice: Don’t lose sight of this and ensure you invest regularly in qualitative user research.

Challenge what you measure and investigate if it holds relevancy for your product or service: Just because everyone else is measuring it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Make data accessible to as many people within your business as possible: If you want to embed CX metrics in your business, they can’t be tied down to something that’s looked at once a month by an analytics team.


Q: What will you be covering at Tonic Digital: Measuring the customer experience?

A: I’ll be sharing our toolkit as an insight team for measuring and understanding player experiences. I’ll also be delving into some interesting insights around the relationship between CX metrics and the broader business metrics (or KPIs) ecosystem. Finally, I’ll be discussing some of the areas we’re looking to grow into within our insights team.


A big thank you to Holly for her time answering our questions. If you're interested in Holly's talk, join us at Tonic Digital: Measuring customer experience.

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