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LAB CHAT with Caitlin Worden Hodge

Our new “Lab Chat” guest is Dr Caitlin Worden Hodge. Caitlin has a Doctorate, a twin sister and an ability to motivate people to do something active, leading by example. She has set up “Exercise Lab”, which promotes activity in the company people’s lives, as well as sharing suggestions for the music play lists to accompany the sessions (this sometimes can get very interesting!).

In our chat Caitlin talks about motivation, the best career advice she’s had, partner relationships with BytePitch and touches on the topic of #sustainability, but from a new and very interesting angle.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I’m a very inquisitive person and enjoy the variety of technical projects that I get to work on at Decision Lab. The opportunity to innovate and be creative with the solutions we develop for our clients is really rewarding.

Working with a diverse and talented team has allowed me to both lead in areas where I have more experience, such as engineering and modelling, and learn and expand my skill set in those I don’t, such as software development.

What keeps you motivated at work?

I think feeling motivated in your work is inextricably linked to your general mood and some of the best ways to boost that is to do some exercise or listen to some music.

During lockdown 2.0 I set up “Exercise Lab” to carve out time in the week to get outside and go for a walk or run or participate in a circuits class via zoom. We take it in turns to nominate a playlist or podcast for these exercise sessions, which have been invaluable during lockdown and has helped me feel closer to the team.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career?

“To follow the skills rather than the industry” – something which initially drew me to Decision Lab, given that the company is industry agnostic and aims to deliver creative solutions to a range of problems.

A strong skillset and exposure to challenges in various sectors gives you different perspectives and knowledge that can fuel innovative problem solving.

What are the industry or technical challenges that intrigue you the most?

The biggest challenge that our society and generation are facing is figuring out how we can live more sustainably and reduce our impact on the world. There is room for improvement in all industries and there are growing opportunities to make things smarter and greener as boards wake up to their environmental responsibility.

I am excited by the good that machine learning can do in improving efficiency, management of materials, transport and (with my doctorate of engineering in Offshore Renewable Energy) especially energy where predictive capabilities and better weather forecasting could really help improve efforts to balance supply and demand of electricity.

But AI techniques can use a lot of compute resources that need to be powered and cooled as they process the data. This in itself can have a large carbon footprint unless models are well built and the strategy is well thought out so as to be appropriate to the problem at hand. In the inevitable wider adoption of AI we shouldn’t forget that there are other tools available to help make decisions, though I’m encouraged by Amazon’s goal of powering its infrastructure, including its cloud platform, with 100% renewable energy.

Best thing about current situation created by Covid?

No commute! But actually there have been other benefits too.

In the last year we have begun working more closely with BytePitch, who are based in Portugal and they are now a partner company.  With everyone working remotely and being more used to video calls I feel we have developed a much closer working relationship with them in a much shorter period of time.

Key work and life insight that you are taking into 2021.

With so many plans continually changing and being replanned, I think flexibility is key. But as things hopefully begin to settle down in 2021, I think we should use this experience to reflect and reset what our priorities are both personally and professionally.

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Decision Lab
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