Big Data, AI, Machine Learning… At Homiwoo, we never forget that our ability to use these vast resources is all based on having skilled and talented people. Swathisree Sreepada joined the Homiwoo adventure in 2019. Here, she explains what it means to be a data scientist in a French start-up.
Harnessing the power of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence would be impossible without people like Swathisree Sreepada. As a member of Homiwoo’s data science team, she helps to gather and understand the vast array of data being used by the company. “My job is all about exploring and interpreting data: we examine the data and, based on that examination, we draw up hypotheses. We then dig deeper into modeling solutions using the data.” The task of analysing data to deliver the most efficient solutions possible is ideally suited to this young Indian woman, who was born in Bangalore.
Initially tempted by the United States and Germany, she finally chose France as her adopted country after her first career in India, where her IT studies led her to have a position at IGATE Global Solutions and Cap Gemini for a period of two years. After this, she moved to France to join ENSIMAG, the National Graduate School of Information Technology and Applied Mathematics of Grenoble, while also working on a research project at LIG, the Information Technology Laboratory of Grenoble. Her next stop was a highly successful internship with Homiwoo, an adventure that continues today!
From exploration to creation of algorithms
At Homiwoo, Swathisree’s work as a data scientist is known as ‘exploratory’ and focuses on innovation and the continuous improvement of Machine Learning algorithms. “When we get new data, we try to see exactly what we’ve got and how we could use it. Sometimes, the way ahead is clear and we’re happy just to continue the development process. At other times, the research aspect becomes more important when our hypothesis would not quite fit the data. It’s a situation that I really enjoy in my work.” This daily questioning of AI is also a challenge that requires a certain amount of agility: “To be effective as a data scientist, you have to be skilled in different technical areas, of course. But in my view there’s a more important factor – the ability to have an intuition about the subject we’re working on.” explains Swathisree.
Communication is another vital aspect of her job. While working as a team is one of the keys to operational success, good communication is also essential. As Swathisree points out: “When you’re working with people from different teams you need to be able to get your ideas across, so that they’re properly understood and that everyone is on the same wavelength. Dialogue and clarity are hugely important.”
Challenges to be met
After two years with Homiwoo, Swathisree highlights the advantage of working for a smaller company, where the atmosphere within the team encourages creativity. “When I started, it was a very small company, which I liked because the smaller the team, the more focused the work. What I like about being at Homiwoo is that I can work both independently, with the freedom to take my own decisions, and also as part of a team. I appreciate the fact that when we have new ideas or new ways of doing things, even if they are not implemented instantly, they’re always taken into consideration. And if useful, they are applied”.
Today, the company is growing, which in turn creates new challenges. “I think that in future, it will be more about knowing how we adapt to change,” says Swathisree. “We already have new projects and we are working with new team members. It will be a challenge – and that’s what I’m looking for: adaptability and the opportunity to gain more experience.”
Lastly, Swathisree believes the human factor and personal relations also have a vital role to play, given her experience in more formal settings. “In India, I worked in a large company where the approach was different, very hierarchical. It’s a total contrast with Homiwoo, where it’s very important to have a working life that allows you to flourish. There is a lot of joy and humour in the team.” And she concludes: “At the end of the day, it’s not just about work. It’s also about the way you interact with people, and the way you feel within the company that matters.”