From Germany to sunny Santa Monica, Sanja has provided an immense contribution to the data science team and GumGum’s latest innovations.
In a recent interview, we got a chance to learn more about Sanja’s career path and what excites her about living in SoCal and working at GumGum. During our fun conversation, we discussed her history to becoming a data scientist and how her life flowed organically to her arrival in Los Angeles.
Can you tell us about your background and path that led you to GumGum?
I studied mathematics and biology as a joint degree back in Germany. During my undergrad days, I became fascinated with the application of mathematics in computer science. Using mathematical tools allows us to solve complex problems in computer science. This is why I decided to become a data scientist.
My husband and I moved to US almost 5 years ago but we were in New York for two of those years. We love living in LA because, of course the weather, but also the people, as the overall mentality in LA and Santa Monica is relaxed, welcoming and open minded
Can you describe your job as a data scientist at GumGum and how long have you been with the company?
I’ve been with GumGum for a year and a half. As a data scientist, we are training machines to do non-trivial tasks. For example, we can input webpages into a machine and it will understand the text to some degree in order to tell us if the page is about sports and what the is sport.
What’s really important for the data science department is having structured or labeled data for our projects and we work closely with data annotators to add those labels such as IAB standards, so my manager Kryztof Urban and I can work on developing the algorithms to improve the quality of the classifications.
One of the projects that I loved the most was when we worked on the Japanese market expansion and we had to work on Japanese text classification to.I worked on improving brand safety for japanese web sites and increased the performance of our classifiers quite a bit. I had no idea what the text means but I am teaching the machines how to understand it which is pretty cool.
What is it like working on the engineering team here at GumGum?
I’m very used to working with men in my line of work. At GumGum, I feel treated equally here which is really great and it’s a been a wonderful experience for me. We have very distinct projects between each other and we all help each other especially when we have roadblocks.
We don’t work as closely with other teams outside of the AdServer, Image Science, BigData and DevOps team. I’m hoping in the future we can expand our collaboration to other teams.
What is your favorite part of working at GumGum?
For me, I think the atmosphere is very relaxed and everyone at GumGum is very respectful. I like the happy hours as it gives us an opportunity to socialize with other departments especially when our team doesn’t get to work with other departments as much. It is helpful for me so I highly appreciate the social events organized by the company.
What are your main hobbies and interests?
My main hobby is indoor rock climbing. I really like climbing overhangs as it was challenging at first but the more you do it, the better you get and your core strength gets stronger. Climbing is a lot of fun especially bouldering because the routes are short but intense so it’s just like solving a problem. I enjoy coming up with moves that train my body and mind. I’ve also did some outdoor climbing but it’s more dangerous and you require more gear. It’s a whole process to get set up and it usually lasts longer than the actual climb. I do it occasionally to enjoy the view and would highly recommend Joshua Tree Park.
Another hobby for us Germans is drinking beer, my personal favorite: Pliny The Elder.
Any tips or quotes to inspire other women here at GumGum?
I would love to give tips for those that want to pivot their careers as I went through that experience. I was very open to leaving home and let life guide me along with my career interests. The world just happens and you have to see how you deal with it and what to make out of it!