Presented By O’Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
September 11, 2018: Training & Tutorials
September 12–13, 2018: Keynotes & Sessions
New York, NY

Data University: How Airbnb democratized data

Erin Coffman (Airbnb)
1:15pm–1:55pm Wednesday, 09/12/2018
Data-driven business management, Strata Business Summit
Location: 1E 10/11 Level: Non-technical
Secondary topics:  Machine Learning in the enterprise, Retail and e-commerce
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 7 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Data scientists, talent professionals, and learning and development professionals

What you'll learn

  • Learn why tailored data education curriculum is worth the investment
  • See the impact data education can have on traditionally non-data-focused roles and teams
  • Understand how to measure success of a data education program


Data-driven organizations and data-literate employees perform better and make better decisions. Airbnb believes that data literacy requires tools by which to collect and analyze data, the ability to access both data and tools, and education about the tools and how to work with data. Airbnb has open-sourced many high-leverage data tools, including Airflow, Superset, and the Knowledge Repo, but adoption of these tools across the company was relatively low, especially when benchmarking against other tech companies. As a company, Airbnb was not reaching its potential if its teams were not using data to drive decision making. In other words, it was seeing significant progress in the first two pillars of data literacy but effectively had no data education.

Erin Coffman offers an overview of Data University, launched to make data more accessible and utilized in decision making at Airbnb. Data University (Data U) provides data education that scales by role and team, in order to empower every employee to make data-informed decisions. Four components of Data U distinguish it from other data education programs and drive the program’s success:

  • Course offerings for every employee
  • Airbnb-tailored curriculum
  • In-person classes
  • Built to scale globally

Airbnb practices what it teaches. Then company defined metrics of success for Data U using the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation, collects relevant data, and uses that data to make program iterations.

Photo of Erin Coffman

Erin Coffman


Erin Coffman is the most tenured data scientist at Airbnb; she currently works for the Human team, which has a mission to house people in need, including evacuees of disasters and refugees. Erin has led data science and analytics initiatives across the company, including work with customer experience, legal, communications, and public policy. In 2016, she cofounded Data University, a company-wide data training program, in which over a quarter of the company has participated. Previously, she worked in education consulting and program management in Washington, DC. Erin holds a PhD in economics from Georgia State University and a BA in mathematics education and economics from Anderson University (IN). Erin is a proud Airbnb superhost, having welcomed nearly 1,000 guests since 2011. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, pub trivia, and golfing.

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Byambasuren Ganbaatar | DATA ENGINEER
09/21/2018 12:15am EDT

Could you share slides here? please.