How do you translate your ideas and vision into terms that your technical teams can get behind ?
This is really hard, but the key is usually about continually focusing on the goal, and supporting people to acquire the understanding and the tools they need to move towards that goal. I need to know enough about where we want to get to, and what kinds of solutions might get us there so that I can clarify the goal, and point my team towards things that might work. My ideas about what might work might be wrong, and the team will quickly become more expert in a particular problem that I am, so micromanaging people is not helpful. Believing in their ability to solve problems and encouraging them to try things and continually keep learning is much more effective.
The sorts of things that are really important are make sure that you actually solving a real problem. Just because you’ve got something that looks like a solution don’t assume that it is something that anyone actually wants. Secondly, understand if you are solving that then solve that in a good way, in a way that is flexible and scalable The other thing I often see is that people don’t really take requirements seriously They don’t work on those things up front They just start writing some code.
How do you keep yourself up-to-date with the latest technology ?
Probably the main way I keep up is by hanging out with other technology nerds ! I hear about something, I check it out, and if it captures my interest then I’ll usually dive in and try to do something with it, in order to consolidate my understanding. Books or on-line courses can help with that kind of deep dive. Conferences can be good for scanning trends and what is on the horizon. Then it can be a matter of sorting through the hype in order to know what is worth investing more time in.
Let’s talk about your relationship with Datarwe and where the synergies with KJR lie
I think the key role in Datarwe for myself personally, and the KJR team more broadly, is around assurance. What Datarwe is building is essentially a platform, a building block if you will, for innovation in the health space. Data providers need to be confident that their data are secure and well managed, and those wishing to conduct research or build solutions using that data need to be confident that platform is reliable, the data has integrity, and that overall that this is a safe space in which to work.
Data collection, data mining and machine learning have been driving the digital economy for quite a while, but for the most part this has been about fine-tuning search results and serving up content, particularly advertising. If you are Google or Facebook, for example, you essentially have a captive source of data and so you don’t really need to share it or collect it from third parties, and there hasn’t been a lot of focus on providing assurance around the governance of that data or the quality of the algorithms produced.
But if you’re working in the health sector, or you’re working in manufacturing or logistics, then the data landscape is much more fragmented –data sharing will be an essential precursor to enabling effective AI solutions, and there’s going to be a growing need for assurance across the whole process – from the governance of data collection, including things like privacy protection, and assuring ethical applications of that data, through to assuring the quality of the solutions that are developed.
So for KJR, the opportunity to support Datarwe through that whole process also enables us to build a deep understanding of what other clients will be needing in this space in the very near future.
On a personal note, how do you unwind away from work?
I dabble in music production and audiovisual art. I also do a bit of writing about that same thing and was fortunate to get a chapter in a book published earlier this year. Those kinds of things are fun – a way of leveraging my technical skills while dipping my brain into a completely different context. I also enjoy getting outside in nature whether that’s long bush walks or going to the beach – having regular times to disconnect from technology is really important.
Lastly, any words of wisdom to aspiring tech professionals?