Miguel Pereira Hernández is a numerophiliac. That is, he loves numbers almost more than any other thing. He likes playing with them, messing around with them and finding ways to match them in unexpected ways.
He is also, not surprisingly, making a living out of numbers. This tall and young Spaniard, with a degree in mathematics from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, has been a fixture of the Dashmote’s data science team since January.
From Spain, with love
So how did Miguel, a native of Barcelona, end up living in the land of cheese and polders, working for an AI scale-up?
“Funny story,” he says. Becoming a data scientist wasn’t always on Miguel’s radar. It was during his degree that he knew he wanted to go into computer science.
And the Netherlands weren’t on the radar as well. It wasn’t a career change that brought him to the Netherlands, but love. “It’s just that my girlfriend wanted to study her master at the Delft University of Technology, and then I had to decide what to do: stay in Barcelona, where I’ve been all my life, or just go on an adventure in another country. So I followed her.”
The day of a data scientist: cookies and numbers
Miguel’s day starts with a long commute. He braves a whopping 90-minute trip to the office each day. So, obviously, he needs a coffee after so much time spent travelling.
He grabs a cup of it and sits down with the data science team to discuss the day’s tasks. Despite having only joined half a year ago, Miguel has gained a lot of new insights from his time at Dashmote.
One of his favorite aspects of his position is working with a small – although steadily growing in number – team, he explains. “Working in a small team means that we’re building everything from the ground up. With a small team, there are a lot of big changes,” Miguel says. “You need to build the infrastructure, the tools. There’s so much more responsibility in a small team, and so much more learning.”
Dashmote’s data scientists never suffer a dull day
After tasks have been allocated, Miguel helps himself to some cookies in the kitchen – “the best way to start the day,” he says, laughing, and then switches on the engine.
With data coming in from a myriad of projects, there’s no such thing as a dull day. The data science team has achieved a lot in the half year that Miguel has been with the company, and a lot has yet to be done.
“The improvement we have done until now makes me very proud. Since I arrived, we’ve been perfecting the internal structure and organization of the data science team, and also the way we code. Now we code in a structured way. It’s much cleaner in general, and that is a necessary step to automating a process.”
For Miguel, their most exciting project, and one that is currently ongoing, has been the monumental task of automating the data extraction process. “We work with a lot of different tools, and we’re trying to connect all of them with the different parts of the project to make it run more efficiently.”
This project of automation ties into one of his favorite aspects of being a data scientist: the art of machine learning. For Miguel, teaching a machine to work for you, “that’s progress.”
Until a few years ago, he explains, humans decided the actions a computer would take. “Now,” Miguel says, “a computer can decide on its own which actions to take. That opens up a whole world of possibilities which before wasn’t possible.”
Dashmote’s diverse working environment
There goes the morning, and after a good lunch, it’s already past midday. Miguel goes to the office rooftop to enjoy a brief social break with the rest of the data science team.
His working mates are six, at the moment. Two from France, two – Miguel included – from Spain, one from South Korea, and another from the Netherlands. This mix means that there are always fresh new insights.
“It’s great to work with a team of people from different backgrounds and different disciplines. And since we all come from different backgrounds, you’re constantly learning new things. As a result, we’re able to apply different perspectives in our work. That’s what I like most about working at Dashmote. We’re constantly learning and improving ourselves.”
After some jokes and momentary basking in the (occasional) Amsterdam sun, Miguel returns to his desk, where he finishes up between 17:45 and 18:00.
Then the trek back to Schiedam begins!