Team Profile: Meet Suzin.

Read In Korean

As a yet-miniscule startup, each member holds a significant power over the overall atmosphere of our team at XBrain. And in our ultimate quest to make big waves in the data world, we need to make sure that the people at the helm are at least kind of cool. We think we’ve done a pretty good job so far in assembling a society of unique but equally driven members, and we’d like for you to get to know them better.

So we bring you this seven-part series, each installment devoted to interviewing each of our members in detail, to give you an in-depth glimpse into the people responsible for bringing you the future of machine learning with Daria. Plus, we peppered the interviews with questions from Dr. Aron’s “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love”*, cherry picked to make work appropriate and concise, but interesting.

(*actually falling in love with our members highly discouraged)

Suzin joined XBrain in May 2017 as our first machine learning engineer. She holds a degree in computer science and mathematics, and does cool stuff like making her own sour cream and rock climbing. Suzin loves the finer things in life, premium teas and hipster restaurants galore, but she’s also a passionate advocate for social justice causes. She is the in-house environmental superhero at XBrain, on a personal mission to better the world one handkerchief and reuseable coffee mug at a time. Our unofficial union leader, as well as final decision maker on all things culinary, Suzin is an integral part of the XBrain community — read on to find out why!

Suzin knows how to stop and smell the roses (and sip the tea)
  • Hi Suzin! Tell us about your role at XBrain.
  • Suzin (SZ) : “I work as XBrain’s machine learning engineer, helping to maintain and develop the engine that runs and automates our technology. I also participate in research that might potentially help our project.”
  • What does a typical work day look like for you?
  • SZ: “10:30 AM is when I always intend to come into work, but I usually end up coming in at around 11 (haha). I make a cup of coffee and write a to-do list for the day. Then we have lunch at about noon, followed by a daily scrum meeting with the other engineers. Then I work some more — I spent a lot of time today trying to debug an error that YH and I found on a test we were running, which turned out not to be an error at all. I don’t really consider that a waste of time, though, since the very fact that we thought it was an error indicates that we didn’t really understand the code. I also participated in a paper review seminar at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology(KAIST). Then I maybe have a stretch (we tried to make this a regular office thing and failed), followed by dinner at 6 PM. After that I might work for another couple hours, and go home.”
  • What are the parts of your job that you enjoy the most?
  • SZ: “Definitely the constant learning opportunities that the job presents, and the fact that XBrain supports most academic ventures that might benefit the company in the long run, although it may not bring immediate results.”
  • What about the tasks that you least enjoy or find challenging?
  • SZ: “It’s a very important part of my job, but also the most difficult — customer response. Problems with Daria are always unexpected and pop up in the most unexpected places, so it can get pretty stressful. But it is beneficial since we get insight into Daria’s weak spots.”
  • Can you pick one item on your desk that says something about you?
  • SZ: “There’s a wrapper from a stick of gum that JY gave me that has “You’re doing great! Keep up the good work :)” printed on it taped to my monitor . It’s a bit cheesy, but it serves as a reminder not to get too wrapped up in my own head when something’s not going as planned, as I am wont to do.”
if you look closely, you can see said gum wrapper on her monitor
  • You almost always have your headphones on. What is your favorite work playlist?
  • SZ: “I use Spotify’s Release Radar playlist, which gets updated every week. Right now it’s all about the soundtrack from the cartoon “Over the Garden Wall”. I also kind of really enjoy depressing ‘downer’ music…”
  • Can you talk a bit about what made you want to go into computer science in the first place?
  • SZ: “I originally wanted to study mathematics in college, because I figured it would be the only time I could pursue something so purely academic. Then I took some electives in computer science, and realized that most aspects of CS require the type of critical thinking that mathematics does. It was of course very very challenging, but I don’t regret it.”
  • So why XBrain?
  • SZ: I was first drawn to XBrain because I liked the challenge of automating machine learning. And I was asked during my interview not just about my work but also very in-depth about my involvement with organizations for food security and sustainability, which gave me the impression that they really wanted to get to know me as a person. And the people! There’s such a strong sense of mutual trust and respect, and everyone is driven and resourceful, and mostly quite funny.
  • If you had to pick one XBrain member for a dinner date, who would it be?
  • SZ: I’d like to have dinner with EK! Before she leaves next month.
  • What causes are you particularly passionate about?
  • SZ: “I think it’s all about maintaining a sense of empathy for the vulnerable parts of society. I care deeply about protecting the environment, and when I lived in Canada, I was interested in the issue of race relations. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the elderly population in Korea, and the societal measures we could take to ensure their well-being.”
  • You are the first female member and the only female engineer on the team. As such, do you think you have a different take on the XBrain experience?
  • SZ: “Definitely — not just because I work at XBrain, but because there are fundamental differences that we all face as women. Like in college, as a woman of color in STEM, I often felt that my shortcomings could be seen as reflective of other women and people of color in STEM. Luckily, XBrain does a good job of giving me faith that if something were to make me uncomfortable as a woman in a predominantly male workplace, I could speak up at any moment and receive support.”
  • What kind of vision do you have for the XBrain team?
  • SZ: Perfecting Daria for our users, and perhaps conducting research with our that would be widely helpful for Daria and for the industry.
  • If you had to sum up the essence of XBrain?
  • SZ: Powerhouses and dad jokes!
  • What film would you recommend for our next XBrain Cinema Society?
  • SZ: Tim Burton’s Big Fish…I love the fantasy storyline, and really enjoyed it as a kid. (It also goes perfectly with our tagline!)
  • Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  • SZ: “I have reservations about anyone intimidating or famous, because I feel like they’d think I was making a fool of myself, so probably my family — my brother in particular, because he’s abroad and we only get to see each other a couple of weeks a year, and we always have a good time.”
  • What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  • SZ: “I would wake up without an alarm, have a healthy breakfast — something rich in protein, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables — and a cup of coffee, read a book, do some chores around the house with a podcast on. I’m currently listening to “Two Dope Queens”. I’d go to bed before midnight, with a good book.””
  • If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  • SZ: “I want to find out about the fate of humanity! Will we continue to live on as we did, or will some breed of cyborg hybrid emerge in the future? How will the human race evolve?”
  • What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  • SZ: “My friends. I’m very proud to say that I have seldom experienced pain from interpersonal relationships, and I think to have such people around you and consider you a friend is a fine accomplishment.”
  • What do you value most in a friendship?
  • SZ: “A shared sense of humor and mutual respect”.
  • What is your most treasured memory?
  • SZ: “It’s hard to pinpoint one, but my most valuable memories are going about my daily tasks with people that I love — studying at the library and visiting coffee shops with my college roommate, having meals with my family, etc.”
  • If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  • SZ: “I’d read more, probably, and try to learn about the things that I’ve been curious about. I would give a lot of love back to the people that have taken care of me. I’d have to tell XBrain, of course, about how I’m going to die in a year, so they can take appropriate measures”
  • Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
  • SZ: “Pragmatically speaking, my laptop, since it’s the most expensive thing I own. A more sentimental answer would be the mug that my college roommate gave to me as a gift.”
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  • SZ: “I’ve always wished I could whistle better. Also, a sense of unshakeable self confidence would be nice, although it’s my personal belief that I need to fulfill certain prerequisite before I could reach that state of mind.”