Leontien Rutenfrans

Marketing Manager Textmetrics
February 15, 2024

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Textmetrics Anna Pillar, data scientist

A conversation with our Data Scientist Anna Pillar

Some seem to think that data are dull. If this were true, they wouldn’t have captured the interest of Anna Pillar, our bright and lively colleague at Textmetrics. Data can in fact be very exciting: they have the potential to explain and shape our world. To fully appreciate and exploit this potential, an inquisitive and creative mind is needed. A mind like that of Anna’s. We asked her some questions to learn about her and her world.

 

Sensitive information

Where someone comes from and how old they are, can be sensitive information. It inevitably invokes unconscious bias in almost everyone, like: people from certain regions have terrible accents, young people know nothing and old people have lost it all. Anna was luckily brave enough to disclose her personal data: she is 28 and grew up in Germany. So how did she end up in Nijmegen and at Textmetrics?

 

Crossing borders

Anna came to the Netherlands to study at the Radboud University in Nijmegen: “Around 6 years ago, I came to the Netherlands for a semester abroad and I immediately felt at home. So much that I moved here after finishing my bachelor’s and stayed in Nijmegen.” Since she’s also lucky in love, she recently purchased a house with her girlfriend in this authentic and colorful Dutch town at the German border.

 

Working and writing papers

She started working at Textmetrics as an intern, was promoted to data scientist and then wrote her master’s thesis on age discrimination. She’s rightly very proud of this accomplishment.

“My paper is about detection of age discrimination and there has only been very little research on that out there, and knowing that I can contribute to this understudied field with my work at Textmetrics is a great feeling.”
Sounds good? Then read Anna’s paper on age discrimination detection in job advertisements.

 

Creativity, imagination and problem solving

At first sight Anna’s hobbies crafting, knitting and making watercolor paintings look very different from working with data. At second sight we see that creativity and imagination are the common denominators, because it is Anna’s task to find and implement solutions for sometimes very challenging problems and requirements of customers. This doesn’t discourage her at all: “I really like the creative aspect about coming up with solutions to these problems and there’s nothing more motivating than eventually seeing people use the solutions I came up with.”

 

Biking along

Anna doesn’t take it easy on the bike. She loves to speed through Nijmegen and surroundings on her new gravel bike and leave all struggles behind, clear her head and keep in shape. Biking might be contagious, because Textmetrics colleagues Koen and Kyrill practice this sport as well, so the three of them regularly exchange exciting bike stories.

 

Time to sleep?

Anna also loves cooking and baking as well as books. She loves reading since she can recall: “I usually have 1 to 3 books at hand for reading, a wild mix of fiction and non-fiction.” With all those hobbies, it is hard to picture when – if ever – she finds time to sleep.

 

A day at the job with Anna Pillar

Our data scientist works two days at the office and two days at home, where her most productive time is in the late morning, making a deep dive into the data with a freshly brewed coffee. At the office there are meetings with colleagues about technical stuff or other things like marketing, sales and customer service. These collaborations across disciplines make working very different from studying: “I really learned a lot at Textmetrics by working in a multi disciplinary team. It can be challenging, because you know your own field very well, and they know their expertise. So communicating just works differently than with people of your own field.”

 

AI and Anna

As a data scientist, Anna usually works on a couple of different projects with AI and natural language processing. “One of the things I like most about my job is discovering all the new things AI can do and thinking about how we can use them in Textmetrics,” she says.

AI is here to stay and will change how we are working, according to Anna. “How much we use AI in our every-day and professional life will only increase,” she says. She hopes though that we will mind the dangers of AI regarding privacy and the environmental impact of high energy servers.
She ends the interview with a warning: “We can do a lot of great things with AI already and more and more cool stuff will pop up, but we also need to critically think about what the progress means and act responsibly.”

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