People of Bakken & Bæck: Codruta

In our digital world, it’s still about the people. In these blog posts, we’ve gone behind the scenes and invited the people of B&B to share their personal stories.

Business developer Codruta Gamulea proved her negotiation skills when she worked in the ultimate signing bonus to her employment deal with Bakken & Bæck: a drone-delivered piñata!

What does being a business developer at Bakken & Bæck entail?

I sell technology products. I meet with clients to discuss their needs and problems and help them find solutions, in addition to handling pricing and pitching. For most of the projects, I stay on as a point of contact or project manager. I now focus on Orbit, our internal venture, and self-developed AI-platform for text automation.

How did you come to work for Bakken & Bæck?

Tobias and Gunnar from B&B came and pitched Orbit to us when I was working at Amedia. I thought it looked like a promising technology and found them to be very interesting people, so we kept in touch about doing various projects together. It took about two years, but now I’m here!

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working a lot with the Municipality of Oslo to help them bring AI into the way they talk and interact with citizens. Also we’re doing a fun, low-key project for Norwegian book publisher Det Norske Samlaget, where we use natural language generation to write children’s books. And then there is the general business development with Orbit.

Where do you put your efforts in your spare time?

Before coming to Bakken & Bæck, I always had some side project going on. I guess I didn’t get enough outlet for my creativity, and now I do. But I’m really into this concept called «The School of Life» a self-help, personal development school with classes for building emotional intelligence. It’s about basic things you really should know to live well, but no one ever teaches you. I really want to bring that franchise to Norway, at some point. Also, I’m still trying to better my biking and skiing skills — like everyone here in Norway. I’m really bad at it still, but I love it.

Before coming to Bakken & Bæck, I always had some side project going on. I guess I didn’t get enough outlet for my creativity, and now I do.

How do you stay updated?

I like long-form sites, like Longform.org or The Atlantic. I spend way too much time on that. For news I read The New York Times and The Economist. I also get most of my news from podcasts, and read or listen to The Information. I’m also pretty addicted to Modern Love — my favourite lifetime podcast. Oh, and theSkimm newsletter.

… that’s a pretty respectable list.

I do love celebrity gossip as well, like Harper’s Bazaar. I’m not above that at all!

You’re speaking at a conference in New York this week. Tell us everything.

Yes, the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence conference! To be honest, I don’t know all that much about the conference because I haven’t attended it before. But it’s one of those events where you have the likes of Google, IBM and Microsoft represented — all pushing hard to show what they are doing within applying AI for commercial purposes. I’m really excited about it because it’s my first AI talk abroad.

What will be your talking point?

I’m going to talk about the AI-powered newsroom and how to use artificial intelligence to help newspapers and media publishers improve the practice of journalism. Also, how using AI in the news value chain can help both journalists and news consumers get better information. This also ties to a lot of the work we’ve done with Orbit. Writing is the core of journalism, making publishing an obvious case for text automation.

What’s the biggest myth about AI?

Thinking there is an off-the-shelf, ready-to-use product you can just plug in. There is always some form of customization needed when trying to solve a problem with machine learning. You still need to analyze the problem first and train a model for solving that particular need. I think that crushes expectations a bit for new clients. You hear that the technology is mature enough, but at the same time applying it requires quite a lot of time and resources.

What do you hope to see for AI in the future?

I think using machine learning is a huge paradigm shift in product development. Machine learning is a skill that an increasing number of developers here at Bakken & Bæck have acquired only in the past couple of years. Hopefully more people will learn it, so that we get a larger and more diverse pool of people that know how to train algorithms and ultimately shape our consumer decisions and behaviour. Right now this competence is concentrated in just a few companies and represented by a pretty homogenous group of people (white males in their thirties).

Working with AI, are you potentially working towards making yourself obsolete?

There’s always a danger of becoming obsolete, particularly since I work in technology sales. I need to stay on top of trends in order to advise clients on what to use. Personally, I’m very aware that you always have to learn and pivot as you go along. My work is about building relationships with people and using emotional intelligence, which are precisely the skills that a lot the researcher reports and predictions say are complementary to automation. In that way, I think I’m quite well-positioned. But you know — famous last words!

Personally, I’m very aware that you always have to learn and pivot as you go along.

If you had to chose another line of work, what would it be?

If I had any talent for drawing, I would have loved to be an architect. Otherwise, I would probably go into performance acting — if I had any talent for that. One of those two.

If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

«Always stick to your natural hair color!» I regretfully dyed my hair platinum blonde when I was 20-something. That’s really it, everything else turned out fine!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Difficult to say, but this is the first company I wouldn’t mind working with until retirement, so hopefully here, doing a lot more of what I do today — with new technology.


8 quick ones

Hang-ups: Podcasts. They’ve become both my source of entertainment and news.

Hung-ups: Snapchat. I’ve made a permanent transition to Instagram Stories.

Latest stream: Just finished «The Keepers» on Netflix.

Work tools: Keynote, Trello, Slack, Google Calendar and email, mostly. I’m probably the lightest tech-user in the office.

Go-to song: Anything by Florence and the Machine. It always gets me pumped and just fills me with good energy.

Favorite emoji: Flamingo, a customized Bakken & Bæck emoji. Works in every situation.

Fun fact of the week: Both Estonia and Sweden use blockchain technology for digital services in the public sector.

Digital cringe-tale: My whole relationship with Twitter is very cringy. I’ve never really gotten on it, but 3 years ago I had to make an account for a journalism summer school I attended. I just typed in the name «experiment33» — because I was, you know, 33 — and forgot about it after the course. But the account resurfaced when I started doing speaker gigs for Bakken & Bæck and my username got randomly tagged at conferences. I deleted my account immediately.


Interview by: Maren Granrud