What skills help you most as a data scientist?
In order of importance: domain knowledge, communications, data architecture, statistics, extraction and analytical programming. These skills are essential to do the job, but just as important are the "selling skills" to communicate the value proposition to your customer. What data scientists produce are highly specialized deliverables; they’re not commodities that everyone necessarily understands.
When did you figure out you wanted to be a data scientist? What motivated you to become one?
I consider what I do to be behavioral science. I study the behavior of both animate (i.e., customers) and inanimate (i.e., products, devices, structures) objects. I've been fascinated with behavior since I was a child. This work is a natural pairing of curiosity with data and analytical methods.