Employee Spotlight from the Data Science World Employee Spotlight from the Data Science World

Employee Spotlight: Eugene Kwak, SVP of Data Science

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August 25, 2023

Meet One of the Brains Behind Our Deep Learning Approach

Eugene’s passion for data science began by building computers with his father when he was young. Now, he’s part of the team behind Certilytics’ pioneering machine and deep learning efforts. Learn what he thinks of deep learning’s potential and how he applies it to build solutions that improve health outcomes while reducing the total cost of care.

This is the fourteenth in a series of interviews with the Certilytics employees behind our market-leading healthcare predictive analytics solutions.

Q: Hi Eugene! How long have you been with Certilytics?

A: Hi! I have been with Certilytics since its founding, which is about ten years. It has been an absolute privilege to experience the growth we have had and to get to know the people I have met along the way.

Q: Congratulations! Can you tell us about your data science background?

A: My background may be a bit unconventional. Prior to my role in data science, I majored in political science and served in the US Army working logistics. After my service, I took a role doing entry-level data analysis in the healthcare space.

Since then, I have been incredibly fortunate to have met some of the brightest minds in this space from various backgrounds such as public health, statistics, and actuarial sciences. These individuals offered their experience and mentorship, teaching and equipping me with the skills and tools to utilize data to drive real change in the healthcare space.

After a few years into my career, I developed an interest for the transformative potential of machine learning. I studied business analytics and data science at NYU with the support of Certilytics. This was the catalyst, on top of years of experience with healthcare data, that helped me transition into data science in healthcare.

As a data scientist, I saw myself become a perpetual student in the art. On top of the incredible mentorship I continue to receive, I enjoy self-learning. Self-learning not only makes up for my background, but also enables me to experience the ever-changing nature of the field. Data science is simply an exciting space, and I am forever grateful to have this opportunity.

Q: What’s your role at Certilytics?

A: I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of training, deploying, and maintaining our machine learning models in production.

I work with a talented, personable, and diverse team to ensure models operate efficiently and remain performant at scale. This also includes implementing novel models and methods devised by our incredibly gifted labs group. I also help with client support, implementation, and quality assurance.

It’s a broad range of roles where no two days are ever the same – making this a unique and exciting position.

Q: What’s your favorite thing so far about working for Certilytics?

A: It is the people. Leadership strives to provide a culture of camaraderie and transparency. This attitude spreads throughout the company at all levels. I believe this enables us to be at our best. Regardless of seniority, our ideas are valued and we never hesitate to support each other. This level of teamwork reminds me of my time in service and is a salient quality of Certilytics.

Q: What advice would you give data scientists just entering the data science field?

A: Three words: passion, persistence, and communication. The field changes rapidly. It takes dedication and passion to remain on the cutting edge. Data science is also a highly experimental line of work. More commonly than we would like, we often find that our idea does not yield our expected result. It’s important to not be discouraged, but to adapt and persist.

Lastly, time is the great constraint. It’s important to manage the time you and the team have by prioritizing wisely and communicating effectively.

Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

A: My hobbies change frequently, but few have stuck with me.

My passion for computers (hardware in particular) started with building computers with my father as a child. I will never forget that first 486 machine we built together. I also enjoy fishing, aquariums, gardening, and bouldering (rock climbing).

Most of all, I love to travel with my family – introducing my daughter to cultures, languages, and wildlife throughout the world.

Q: What’s something people may not know about you?

A: I am native to Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is where my heart is. Go Falcons!