Employee Spotlight: Abhishek Kothari

Who is Abhishek Kothari?

I have worked as a knowledge engineer at SII for the last two years now. Before that, I got my Master's in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Arizona. Outside of work, I am a curious person. I am always thinking for out of the box solutions to different topics that I find interesting. These problems range greatly, but all centered around science and technology.  
For example, I'm listening to a podcast called StarTalk on Youtube. It has Q&A sessions with guests of varied backgrounds such as physicists and immunologists discussing COVID-19. Each episode leaves me with something new to think about and consider how a similar solution could help in other areas.

What does a typical day look like for you?  

I generally try to wake up at 4 am to do my morning exercise regiment that is a combination of yoga and meditation.I then trade stocks from 6:30-8:00 am and start work at 9am.  
There is no typical workday for me. As part of the engineering team means there are always new tasks and projects. Currently, I am focused on building Hyperion, which consists of lots of data sources. As a knowledge engineer, it is up to me to get data into our database in the most efficient manner possible. This becomes a challenge. Each data source is essentially a different project in and of itself because each comes in a series of different formats. This means that there is little consistency when we start, so we have to write different codes or methods to import the data for each data source. Once this is done, then we can implement techniques to mine the database, such as using Machine Learning from Microsoft Azure.  
After finishing the work around 5:30 pm, I take a break to have dinner before playing one or two games of DotA.

What drew you to work for Systems Imagination?  

I always wanted to do work that pushed the limits of what can be done because I felt that a lot of my tasks were mundane in my previous jobs.
But at SII, it's different. We have tasks and are encouraged to try new methods to find the best way to accomplish that task. Experimenting is ingrained into how we approach problems, and we aren't restricted by "this is how we have always done it" mentality.
With no restrictions, we have the flexibility for our imaginations to go everywhere while focusing on achieving a specific outcome. This way of thinking lets us learn quickly, rapidly iterate, and stay on top of technology's ever-changing landscape.  

What are some of the biggest takeaways from your time at SII?  

Don't be afraid to try new things.  
People are generally afraid to try new ideas or ways of thinking because the outcomes are not certain. For instance, in college, we had an option to choose between two languages, Python or R when we were learning about data science. After I came to SII, with the team's help, I found out Python is not useful for the first step up data preparation (which is a large part of my job). I had to learn a new language and that’s when I got more involved with Java.
Java was a game-changer for me because it was better at handling large and complicated data sets. I could do so much more with Java than Python, but I thought Python was the best language to use until I tried Java. Be open-minded and don't be afraid to try new ideas.

What advice would you give to a driven college student?  

Don't take what everyone says as the end all be all.
You need to understand that when people say something to you, it is coming from a certain perspective. It may be right or wrong. Just don’t accept it blindly. Ask for the reasons as to why they are saying what they are saying. Maybe they tried 3 methods that didn’t work for them and you have a completely different method of reaching your goal. As Jack Ma said, “once you are out of school, that’s the best time to explore and learn new things” .

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September 4, 2020

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