DAY IN THE LIFE INTERVIEW: MICHA GERWIG
This week’s Day In The Life Interview comes with Micha Gerwig, Engineering Manager at Ada Health, an app which gives you a personalised symptom assessment and results in a report that helps you to decide what to do next (e.g. visit a doctor or stay in bed).
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
Ada Health has developed a health app, that gives you a personalised symptom assessment and results in a report that helps you to decide what to do next (e.g. visit a doctor or stay in bed). In some countries, we also offer to directly send your case to an Ada doctor, with whom you can get personalised advice via chat. Over time, Ada learns more and more to adapt to the individual using Ada- learning about the person’s health over time and knowing that symptom X and Y might mean different things for user A than for user B. We also work with medical professionals and research institutions, who use Ada’s technology to support their decision making and who help us validate and improve Ada’s accuracy.
2. What brought you to this area?
A friend of mine worked on Ada’s medical team and I was looking for a part time job when I was a student. I really liked the fact that I was contributing to something that has a positive impact on people. After finishing university it was clear to me that I wanted to stay.
3. What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?
We have quite flexible work hours at Ada, so the typical work schedule doesn’t exist. A neat detail for me is that my week starts on Tuesday. I’m usually in by 9:00 am, sometimes 9:30, and start off the day with a coffee and reading some user reviews. Some colleagues drop in later and stay longer, but we all gather for our daily Stand Up at 10:30 am. We have multiple Stand Ups that are grouped by theme rather than expertise. So for a certain feature, people join from all different departments and share what they’re working on (this prevents conflicting work and helps to align on a schedule). I usually go out for lunch with my colleagues around 1:00 pm and leave the office between 5:00 and 06:00 pm. I believe flexible work hours and the ability to work from home on some days are the basis for a diverse team. Some people simply are more the night owl type, while others like to stand up early or have to pick up their kids in the afternoon.
4. What kind of projects are you currently working on?
Currently the dev team is refactoring and redesigning our chat with a doctor functionality, and soon we’ll introduce many new features. Since health is such a sensitive topic, there are many security aspects we have to take into account while developing new features – how we send, receive and store data. Releasing Ada in more languages is also a big task. Besides development I manage a small team of backend developers and help out in the recruitment process – our team is constantly growing and we’re still looking for developers!
5. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
Ada has such a positive impact on people’s lives. Each day we receive user feedback and stories of how Ada’s result was the key trigger for an investigation that led to a right diagnosis, that in some cases saved the user’s life. The fact that I can use my software engineering skills to contribute to a product that saved a human’s life just feels awesome.
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
I could perfectly live without any app. I really like the rain radar app though, because I’m commuting by bike a lot and hate to ride in the rain.
7. What’s the best thing about working at your company?
For one, the relevance of the product, as I mentioned before. Besides that, since we’re still a growing company, I really like that I have the chance to contribute my own ideas and that the team structure offers room for personal development and growth.
8. Where is the after work hangout?
We have a sun-lit loft office on the 5th floor in Berlin Kreuzberg, so a lot of times we’ll just stay on the balcony for a beer. If we feel like going out, Kreuzberg offers many possibilities.
9. Who is your professional role model?
I don’t have a “professional role model.” There are a lot of people in my work and private environment that I value for certain qualities and I’ll turn to different people for guidance based on the challenge I encounter.
10. What makes Berlin a good city for technology and startups?
Maybe it’s a spirit that people who live here share, of being more willing to try out new things and generally being open to new ideas. I guess the low costs of living and comparably cheap rents also have been a factor for a lot of entrepreneurs to choose Berlin. However, the last part is especially changing, and I believe the Berlin Tech Scene has to be careful not to drive away the people and things that make up this vibrant atmosphere that brought us all here in the first place. Berlin has to stay diverse!
11. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
Besides Digital Health? I can imagine AR will become a really exciting topic. I can envision the very positive effects like augmented assistance when driving a car, but also more disputable applications like augmented advertisement in a city. Anyway, I’m excited by what is going to happen in that area over the coming years and how the digital and real world are going to melt together.
12. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
Integrity, courage, team spirit
13. And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
Hard for me to say, since I’ve never founded a company, but here’s what I’ve learned from helping to create and launch new technologies. I think it is very important to build a team of people that get along and want to work together, having one vision. That might mean choosing the less skilled person who is eager to grow, over someone who is a rockstar in his/her field but cannot work in a team.