DAY IN THE LIFE INTERVIEW: JOHAN KESTENARE
Today’s Wednesday motivation comes from London based startup CheckRecipient and this Day In The Life interview with Johan Kestenare.
CheckRecipient uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to secure enterprise information across email networks.
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
I work as a Data Scientist at CheckRecipient. We use machine learning to secure enterprise information across email networks.
As a data scientist, my job is to analyse the email dataset (terabytes of data!) that our company has collected and develop new products based on machine learning and deep statistical analysis.
2. What brought you to this area?
I studied Mathematics and Statistics and I have always been passionate about how mathematics is used to solve ‘real-world’ problems. Being a data scientist allows me to work on innovative solutions to difficult problems on a daily basis.
3. What time does your day start, and what does your typical workday schedule look like?
My day starts around 8.30am and my schedule looks like:
- Spend 2 hours to handle client requests and do some data validation on the application
- From 10.30am to lunch, I work on a specific project chosen by the company. It can be an improvement of our current algorithm, but also trying to do R&D on an idea that we want to develop in the coming months
- In the afternoon, I have a meeting similar to a brainstorming session on data science – e.g. what features we should use to develop a better misaddressed email algorithm
- As we are a small team and we are trying to constantly improve our algorithm and software, we work most of the time on different products at the same time and work on whatever needs our immediate attention. However, I will also to have some time to do R&D or write production code
- 7pm to 7.30pm – read about data science or work on a MOOC to improve my skills as a data scientist
4. What kind of projects are you currently working on?
Working on developing a new threat module (Intellectual Property theft) and improving the current algorithm. We are also moving our data infrastructure, so I perform R&D to test performance of different databases, and see which one we want to use.
5. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
At CheckRecipient, we have developed the first algorithm to solve the well-known problem of misaddressed emails. It’s huge satisfaction to know that the algorithm is used on a daily basis by thousand users and that the algorithm prevents several misaddressed email a day.
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
Probably Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp. As I am from France, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family.
7. What’s the best thing about working at your company?
The two best things are:
- The atmosphere is definitely amazing, everyone works very hard and we also take the time to have socials, team lunches and make use of the tabletennis/tablefootball facilities in the office to unwind!
- The company is very supportive of personal and professional development. Everyone is encouraged to voice their opinions, challenge themselves and develop new skills
8. Where is the after work hangout?
Hammersmith has some great bars and restaurants hidden away. We try and go out as a team once a week and discover new places. We went out for a team laser tag event recently!
9. Who is your professional role model?
I don’t have necessarily a professional role model but I am huge sports fan. I admire professional sports players for their mentality, achievement, competitiveness (such as Lebron James, Roger Federer)
10. What makes London a good city for technology and startups?
London is a fantastic place to live and is the cultural capital of Europe. There is also a high concentration of talented people that come from all over the world to live and work in London. As a developer, it’s great working with truly diverse and talented peers. Many of our clients are also financial institutions and law firms, so being in London is also great from this perspective.
11. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
Developments in Artificial Intelligence and how it can be applied to solve problems that have been overlooked, because we didn’t have the data, computational power or algorithms to solve these issues until now.
12. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
Ability to learn quickly, ability to multitask and work effectively as a part of a team.
13. What is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
Be willing to experiment and try new approaches to problem solving and constantly measure and adapt your strategy
14. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out?
I will probably recommend doing more MOOC courses during my studies because they are very useful and you are able to learn about many different things.
More specific to my daily job, I would have probably spent more time learning how to code because as a data scientist, you need definitely to know how to code proficiently in different languages
15. If you could do anything differently what would it be?
Would have learned more about coding and tried to work on more ‘real world’ problems during my time in University. Read more interesting technical blogs, there is plenty of great accessible information out there.