Q: Tell us something about yourself.
A: I work at ERNI, a Swiss IT development and consulting company. Our customer works in reinsurance. We are working together with their actuaries on an application that models the financial risks of their business. This way, they calculate the reserves needed to be set aside, so they are considered solvent by the regulatory bodies they answer to. I started developing in C#. However, since they wanted to increase the number of simulations they would like to process, we moved from C# to Python and, for big data processing, to Apache Spark.
I have a Master’s Degree in Nuclear and Sub-Nuclear Physics from UPJS in Kosice. My career in the private sector has been short – about 3 years.
Q: What brought you to IT?
A: Before I started working in IT, I analysed data from the ALICE experiment at CERN as a member of the Hungarian Academy of Science. During my university studies, I approached IT only lightly; my main focus was theory. The university’s curriculum in my study area at that time did not cover this topic very broadly. Once in practice, I started to realise that, apart from designing the analysis, I was the one who had to write the analysis application as well. I was working with large amounts of data – research is an iterative process, and if one does not optimize the analysis process, getting results takes too much time. That is how I started to enjoy programming. I started digging deeper into the foundations of the language and tools I was using back then (C++, Linux). Then I decided to leave the Academy.
Q: What have been the most important moments of your life?
A: The first one was my decision to leave the Academy. I started working for Siemens Healthineers in Kosice. Within a year, ERNI approached me with a proposal to work for them. I am very glad I agreed to the collaboration. The company supports the development of my professional interests and I am lucky to work on project with access to Data Science and Python, which are topics close to my heart. At the same time, ERNI supports knowledge build-up in the area of Machine Learning (ML). I am personally interested in Natural Language Processing (NLP). I finished Coursera’s Deep Learning specialisation and a great course on Python and Data Science with MITx. I am part of ERNI’s Data Science and AI community. I go to ML and PyData meetups in Bratislava and twice I presented at a .NET meetup organised by my team lead.
Q: How do you educate yourself?
A: Mainly online courses on coursera.org and edX.org. A great source is Pluralsight. One needs to choose courses based on personal interests and which institution is holding the course. It is important that the person teaching has a history with the topics covered by the course. Apart from this, I am subscribed to medium.com – a source of blogs and articles in areas I am interested in.
Q: What is your approach to improving your skills?
A: Get out of your comfort zone. Choose tasks you know are problematic; that way, you will move forward. Communicate and don’t be afraid to be judged by others. Listen to their opinions, their insights, and learn from them. If someone gives criticism, count to ten, think of where they’re coming from, and only then react. Maybe they are right. Be open to everything that’s coming to you, good or bad. If you have a vision of where you want to be, be sure to have a plan on how to get there, and follow it.
Q: Is women’s code different to men’s code?
A: It’s not different. I don’t perceive professional differences between men and women, only between people. Everyone has their own style; individually, it does not make a difference if you’re a man or a woman. Maybe statistically there is, but I do not have enough observations to generalise.
Q: Why is IT still a man’s domain?
A: It’s mainly in our heads.
Q: Should young girls be directed towards IT?
A: Not just IT, but more generally to technical areas. One should stop separating subjects/interests as ones for boys and girls. Society is set up in a way where it’s odd that a girl might enjoy technical studies. This way, they are discouraged to take this direction from an early age, sincethey are expected to choose other paths. Of course, this is just my opinion. Personally, I have not experienced such open prejudice. Nevertheless, some time ago, I was stunned by a colleague asking why a ‘girl’ would choose to study physics. He was not interested why ‘I’ chose physics. If I were a man, the question would have had a different form. When more girls take on technical subjects, it stops being unusual.
This article was originally posted by robime.IT in Slovak language: Soňa Pochybová: Ak máte víziu, majte aj plán, ako sa tam dostať, a dodržujte ho.