Human Resources

Typical 24: Aaron Beach, SendGrid

25-01-2016-aaron-beach-sendgrid  Name: Aaron Beach

 Job title: Senior data scientist

 Company: SendGrid

 Location: Denver, Colorado, USA

 Years’ experience: 5



1.              At what time do you reach the office each day?
At 8.30 today I ran and biked to work - I’d say that living in Denver means there is a ‘healthy’ dose of exercise culture here which means an active commute is fairly common around here.


2.              Is your job varied?
My job is quite varied. I spend a large amount of time doing architecture of our systems, but another project I increasingly spend time on is our big data futures project - where we try to monetise aspects of our own data to help better inform marketers’ campaigns, it’s the variety of the role that I enjoy the most. For instance, developing a particular feature can have knock-on effects for other related features that I work on. It’s both the variety and the type of role that I’m allowed to do at SendGrid which attracted me to it.

3.              Is your job creative?
The role of being a data scientist is hopefully creative, if you’re doing it right. The main creative aspect of my job is in product development and the vision to see where we should be in 3 to 5 years’ time.

4.              What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
Whether it’s coding or advising our internal teams, the majority of my time is spent about 50-50 between meetings and with my head down trying to figure out solutions, debugging, or coming up with an alternative data set. It does not involve as much coding as when I started out, but it’s still a core skill set I come back to from time to time.

5.              Do you personalise your desk?
I like to keep things simple: I use just the one screen, and I keep a Rubik’s Cube and a bat’leth on my desk.

6.              Would you describe yourself as creative?
As a data scientist, you’re both into architecture as well as a developer. The majority of my job is spent in analysis to be honest but there are of course creative and forecasting aspects to my role which are fun to do.

7.              Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
On Fridays I really enjoy blasting Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ to the rest of the office. Not sure if they appreciate it, but I enjoy it at the end of my week.

8.              Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
I would say that I work with others about 90% of the time in my role at SendGrid, and the rest of the time is on my own simply on coding projects and debugging, of course.

9.              How many hours on average do you work a day?

10.          Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
Sadly I spend about 2-4 hours a day doing meetings, and probably 20+ at work hours a week coding, but it changes depending on the time of year. There are always ebbs and flows to everything we do, and when there’s a new release coming out, of course I spend more time in meetings and discussing with our product and marketing teams how to roll-out new features to our customers prior to launch.

11.          Do you use social media much for work?
I am not a big social media guy, I think about 5-6 years ago it hit its peak, but I do interact socially at work.

12.          What do you enjoy most about your work?
What I enjoy most is that it’s a good mix of hard engineering problem-solving, together with working around other people and we have a great culture here.

13.          What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
It’s a really mixed bag - I don’t listen to much at work but generally the stuff I’ve listened to daily is Nine Inch Nails and last week it was Bach’s Cantatas no. 131.

14.          What do you do for lunch?
One of the best deals we have as SendGrid employees is the market in Denver is paid for by the company. They make some of the best sandwiches in the city, so a pretty great perk!

15.          Do you socialise with work colleagues?
I enjoy the odd table tennis match and drink a beer with my co-workers if the odd happy hour comes up and I’m available. However I do love getting home to family so ensuring a good life balance is key to me.

16.          Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
Personally, not really. Software development is not really my day-to-day role any longer, but I still advise on it at a high-level. Meetings are the one thing I might like to scrub from my plate but we have an on-site gym so maybe I should start requesting some meetings in there with some of my fitter colleagues.

17.          What is your last task of your day?
To be honest it’s probably a meeting, or finding time for a quick workout.

18.          How do you like to relax after work?
It’s generally to spend time with my family but recently I’ve started getting into the Premier League on ESPN. As an American I’ve tasked myself with finding a really obscure team to root for. Matches are on here between 5.30 and 6am so it’s going to take some dedication to tune in!

19.          Do you keep checking email through the evening?
I try not to take work home with me, and I tend to disconnect my phone in the evenings by leaving it on the counter.

20.          Do you take work projects home with you?
That said I do tend to bring home work mentally and keep running things over in my head. My wife can definitely tell when I’ve mentally checked out.

21.          What would you say to your 20-year old self?
To try to relax: I was always a very concerned 20-year old - worried about whether I had the right job, whether I was making the right long term choices, etc. etc. With my experience now, I would say to myself at that age that if you are confident and capable in what you do, then you’ll succeed.

22.          If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I would love to try being a pro poker player, I think that would be a lot of fun to do as my vocation.

23.          What device did you use to answer these questions?
A MacBook since I’m sitting at desk, I just switched off a team catch-up over Google Hangouts (I manage a number of remote teams) to answer these questions, and I’ll probably return to doing some more coding when I’m done.

24.          Do you use your own personal device for work?
I do. I have an ancient personal device, a Nokia 6820, it’s both ancient and a relic but I just can’t stop using it. I should do as I get some strange looks at times!


« How to avoid ICT contracts that delight vendors but hurt you


Yorkshire offers a northern home to tech's finest »
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?