Today's guest article is by Hans Scharler.
Live Interview on Discord
Recently, I had the privilege of engaging in a captivating conversation with Heather Gorr, Ph.D., a senior MATLAB Product Manager and Data Science expert at MathWorks. Our discussion covered a broad range of topics, from her daily work routine to her personal journey into the world of data science.
I held the interview live on the MATLAB Discord Server. I even kicked off the AMA with a Lex Fridman-inspired podcast introduction.
Today we're privileged to be joined by Heather, a force in the world of data science, a Senior MATLAB Product Manager at MathWorks. Trained as a materials science engineer and physicist, Heather's intellectual journey is one marked by a fierce hunger for knowledge and an inexhaustible curiosity that sees no boundaries. She has shown us that the path from the academic world to the tech industry isn't a straight line, but a beautiful winding road of discovery and continuous learning. Today, Heather stands not only at the edge of today's technological innovation, but also at the dawn of tomorrow's potential, creating a space where technology and human ingenuity dance in a never-before-seen ballet. As we dive into this conversation, remember that it is through the insights of brilliant minds like Heather's that we get a glimpse into the fascinating future that lies ahead of us.
Buckle up, and let's go on this remarkable journey together.
Here, I'll share nine insights that emerged from our conversation—each one offering a unique perspective on the field of data science and Heather's approach to her work.
1. Flexibility and Diversity in Roles
I asked Heather to describe one day from the past two weeks to give us some insight into what she may face on a typical day. Heather happened to choose the same day as the Discord AMA. Heather's description of that day reveals the diverse set of tasks and responsibilities that come with her role at MathWorks. From collaborating on a gorilla facial recognition project to hosting webinars and engaging in live streams, her role is dynamic and versatile, offering intellectual stimulation at every turn.
2. The Importance of Continuous Learning
Heather's drive to embrace a wide array of projects and tasks can be traced back to her insatiable curiosity and pursuit of knowledge. She puts an emphasis on continuous learning as it is a critical facet of the data science field, which is always evolving and expanding.
Why MathWorks? Teaching others, engaging with users, discovering cool stuff, and there's always something new to learn.
- Heather Gorr
3. The Journey of Career Discovery
Heather started studying physics, spent time in Nashville being a musician, and then found her passion in engineering and data science. This career journey serves as a reminder that career paths are not always straightforward—it's okay, and even beneficial, to take time to find what truly motivates and interests you. Heather now plays in a band and gigs out almost every weekend in New England.
4. The Value of Responding to Opportunities
Heather joined Mathworks in January 2013. An early but defining moment in her career was responding to a call to action. Someone at MathWorks needed help on a deep learning project and Heather volunteered to help out and apply her experience from her Ph.D. work. That someone turned out to be Cleve Moler, the creator of MATLAB. Heather's journey is all about responding to opportunities. Her response to Cleve Moler's call to action and the resulting projects, collaborations, and learning experiences illustrate the potential value of seizing opportunities. Being open to unexpected opportunities can lead to rewarding experiences that stretch far beyond your comfort zone.
5. The Role of Personal Experiences in Professional Growth
During the interview, Heather opened up about her dyslexia and ADHD and how she navigated academic and professional challenges providing an important perspective on the intersection of personal experiences and professional growth. Personal experiences, including the challenges we face, can shape our professional journey in significant ways. She felt it was important to share personal struggles and to be real about who we are.
6. The Balance of Technical Skills and Communication
Heather's role at MathWorks involves a mix of highly technical work, such as working on machine learning projects, and communication-focused tasks, such as teaching and hosting webinars. This balance underscores the importance of both technical expertise and communication skills in a data science role.
7. Applying Knowledge in Unique Ways
I asked Heather about a specific machine learning project that she worked on and she told us about a gorilla facial recognition project. What was fascinating about this project is that Heather was not trained specifically for this project, but she was prepared to handle it by applying her knowledge from other deep learning projects. Heather's work on the gorilla facial recognition project showcases the innovative applications of data science and machine learning and how important it is to work on diverse projects. You never know what you will be working on and how your experience will be impactful.
8. The Power of Collaboration
Heather frequently mentions collaborations in her work, such as her projects with Cleve Moler and others at MathWorks. She wanted to highlight the importance of collaborative work in data science, where different team members can bring unique perspectives and skills to solve complex problems.
9. Passion for Teaching and Sharing Knowledge
Heather made it clear that she loved teaching others. Her teaching experience and her enthusiasm for sharing her work through webinars and blog posts highlight her passion for education. It's a reminder of the importance of knowledge sharing and mentorship, which not only helps others learn but also fosters a strong, collaborative community.
My conversation with Heather Gorr not only shed light on her work and philosophy but also provided unique insights into the ever-evolving world of data science. Her journey, experiences, and perspectives have a lot to offer to anyone interested in the field. To follow Heather's work and contributions, you can find her on LinkedIn or visit her MathWorks community profile.
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