International Women’s Week at Senseye
During International Women’s Week, we want to put a spotlight on our female team members here at Senseye. Each day we will publish an interview with an inspirational woman and find out about their career journey, role models and aspirations. Senseye believes in maximizing effectiveness through multiple different data feeds. We also apply this to our people, in the belief that each person brings a valuable new skillset and new perspective to the team, enhancing effectiveness.
In the spotlight: Dr. Danielle Toutoungi, based in Cambridge, UK.
What is your role at Senseye and what are your typical daily tasks and activities?
I’m a senior data scientist in the Research Team at Senseye, which means I work on developing the analytical algorithms at the core of our products. Day to day, I spend most of my time writing code, looking at analysis results, and thinking hard about how to turn large quantities of data into meaningful insights, as well as discussing ideas with colleagues.
What has been your career journey to date?
I started with a degree in Physics, and that led me into a PhD developing mathematical models of the motion of the knee joint. This was very much a “small data” world, as all our experimental data had to be collected by persuading volunteers to come to the lab and have small fluorescent marker balls stuck to their limbs while they performed exercises in front of motion capture cameras. Not exactly scalable! After my PhD, I took a job at a technology consultancy in Cambridge. This was a good way of getting to work on a really broad range of technologies – everything from car reversing radar, air traffic control, laboratory robots and particle detection sensors. I started as an algorithm developer but gradually mutated to being a project manager, which was an interesting way to combine technical skills with leadership and customer psychology.
Following that, I leapt into the start-up world, joining a small company called Owlstone as employee number 19. Owlstone was trying to develop and commercialize a new type of miniaturized chemical sensor, and I was responsible for defining a new product built around it, leading the development project, and later for developing commercial and academic partnerships to demonstrate its applications. So this was a great opportunity to learn many new subjects from chemistry, electronics and mass spectrometry to marketing and product management. Life at a start-up means you need to be prepared to take on any kind of job – one day I could have been testing circuit boards or packing boxes and the next day flying to California for meetings with commercial partners. After a few years, the company started a new area of focus, on breath-based diagnostics, and I got the opportunity to set up the Algorithms and Data Software group, and to recruit and work with a talented bunch of software engineers and data scientists on the development of algorithms for detecting chemicals in breath or in the atmosphere.
That whetted my appetite to get back to the coal face of hands-on data analysis and algorithm development, so I made the leap to Senseye and have not looked back!
Who would you consider a role model?
I don’t have a specific role model, but I am always inspired by stories of people who refuse to be limited by expectations and who keep exploring and learning throughout their lives. One example is the legendary Gertrude Bell who defied the conventions of the Victorian era and set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, becoming an archaeologist, mountaineer, photographer, spy and diplomat. Her story is remarkable, and a great reminder of how much can be packed into one lifetime.
What do you enjoy outside of work?
I love trail running, hiking, biking and rock climbing, and am also pretty obsessed with birds (watching them and learning about them).
What do you hope to accomplish at Senseye?
To develop as much expertise as possible in turning large volumes of data into actionable information, and to be part of making our product absolutely world-class.