Sometimes we forget the humans behind the tech in our ever busy world. DSF is fortunate enough to know some incredible tech leaders across the world and has the privilege of hearing them present at our events. That being said, our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini interview below!

About Paolo

Paolo is an Engineering Manager at Decibel (a Medallia company). He has started working at Decibel as a Data Scientist in web analytics, working on measuring the digital experience through click flow data, defining the Digital Experience Score (DXS) and a range of metrics associated with the digital experience. In his time at Decibel he has grown his team hiring Data Scientists and Data Engineers. He has led projects on revenue forecasting driven by digital experience, classification of web-pages, as well as supervised data engineering projects on real-time computation of digital experience, ETL at scale, including the creation of an internal Data Lake.

How did you start out in your career?

I got a MSc in Electrical Engineering and right after I started a PhD researching on EM fields propagation. I dropped out of my PhD to work for a start-up in music technology, as a Research Scientist, in which I mostly worked on FPGA programming and electrical measurements. I started to self learn Python, SQL and HTML and that helped me transition to a career in Data Science. Another determining factor is to constantly keep updated with current technologies, for example learning about cloud computing, new Machine Learning techniques or expanding my knowledge towards data engineering.

What are the signs of success in your field?

That’s a tricky one as success is not always recognised. In my case I was promoted as my managers thought that I deserved it, but I wasn’t really doing anything different from my daily job, so I suppose I was lucky in that regard. The commercial success (or insuccess) of the company you work for is not necessarily a great indicator, however, the culture of the team you work in can be: your behaviour can have an influence on your work environment. Another sign of being successful is when people often come and ask you for help, as this signals that you’re an expert on certain topics.

What is the best and worst thing about your job role?

As a manager, the best thing is to promote people. The worst is to let people go (luckily, it never happened to me).

What can you advise someone just starting out to be successful?

The most important thing is to try being successful in something you actually like. The data community has been at the centre of attention for a few years now, however, if you don’t like data, maths or coding, you’ll hardly be successful in this field. Besides that, it’s important to know what’s going on in the community, so attending conferences, meet-ups, hackathons is a great way to keep updated and to grow a network of like-minded professionals.

How do you switch off?

I spend time with my wife and friends, I like to cook, travel and play tennis. For me it’s important to leave the house once a day (I work from home most of the time) and, since my work consists of sitting in front of a desk for many hours, I feel the necessity of doing something more physical like running or going for a walk.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be put off by job descriptions, they’re often copied and pasted by some reference websites and they don’t reflect the actual needs of the job. Don’t be afraid of asking specific questions when you don’t understand something, more often than not, it’s only a matter of rephrasing the concepts.

What is next for you?

In the near term, my biggest challenge is to manage the changes in my team due to the acquisition by a much larger company. This is exciting and a little scary, but it’s something I’m determined to work hard on. In the long term, I’d like to shift to work in the energy sector, either within the renewable energy sector or domestic consumption, which is a very relevant and interesting topics in these times.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

I’d take some time off and learn some building skills, such as plumbing, plastering, carpentry. I’d do it because I’m terrible at it and because it’s something that’s always going to be useful.

What are your top 5 predictions in tech for the next 10 years?

– Automation will speed up entire processes, products will be conceived, planned, implemented and deployed in the space of weeks, maybe even days
– Technologies will become more and more specific, so will job roles. There may not be a role as a Data Scientist anymore, but a PyTorch Scientist or a GPT Scientist instead
– Remote working will be the norm, policies to work from different countries around the world will be more and more common in contracts

Watch Paolo’s session at the Data Science Festival here.

Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for taking part in our Speaker Spotlight!

Want to become a DSF Speaker? Apply here!