Margarida Ruela

Margarida Ruela

Profile

Time in tech 4 years
Current role Senior Data Scientist @ Feedzai
Place of origin Lisbon

Tell us more about you:

Early years and where you came from?

I grew up in Barreiro, a city in the Lisbon South Bay, and I lived there until I moved to Lisbon last year. I am the only child and I was lucky enough to have my parents’ full support and guidance while growing up. My parents, who were both teachers, were the ones who instilled in me the passion for learning and they always motivated me to try my best in everything I do.

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How were you introduced to the world of the Portuguese tech industry?

At school, my favorite subject was math and later physics. I was always passionate about solving challenging problems. When I was in high school I knew I wanted to be an engineer, but I was still indecisive about which engineering degree I wanted to pursue. When I was in the 11th grade, I went to a Major fair in Universidade Nova de Lisboa and I was fascinated by the Biomedical Engineering booth and this was the degree I decided to take.

After finishing my master’s, I worked as a research assistant in Institute for Systems and Robotics, IST. Later, I decided that I wanted to leave academia and to start working in the industry. I have started my new journey as a Functional Analyst at Accenture, Portugal.

Two years ago, I joined Feedzai. At Feedzai, I am able to do academia related work, such as reading papers, learning new algorithms or new programming languages, but I still have to know that at the end of the day we have a business to run. The projects we are involved in have a well defined purpose, which is to improve our product and services.

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Walk me through your work and what you are doing now in the tech industry.

I am a Senior Data Scientist at Feedzai and, currently, I am leading the data science activities of some of our United States projects. My main activities include: helping and managing the data science teams, guaranteeing the quality of our deliverables, ensuring inter-communication across projects, preparing technical presentations to clients, among others.

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What part of what you do, you love the most?

What I love the most about what I do is that I feel that I am always learning. Since I joined Feedzai, I have faced new several challenges:

- New technical challenges, which made me learn new tools and programming languages;

- New personal challenges, I have lived and worked in Brazil and in the US;

- New soft skills challenges, since I have become a data science lead, I have been working on improving leadership, communication, perceptiveness, among other skills.

This being said, what I love the most about what I do is that I am constantly being given the opportunity to challenge myself and grow.

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How do you think that your background and knowledge impact the way you approach your work in the Portuguese tech industry?

As I mentioned, I have a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. In my opinion, one of the curses and blessings of this degree is that we cover several different subjects such as mechanics, chemistry, computer science, electronics, biology, math, medicine, physics, among others. One the one hand, this is a curse because, in order to learn so many different subjects, you end up not deepening your knowledge in any of these areas. However, on the other hand, you learn to easily adapt to different contexts and technologies. For me this is crucial, because this is an ever changing industry and adaptation is key.

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What advice do you have for young women that want to get into tech and don’t know where to start?

Start with the simplest steps, do some online search and talk to friends and acquaintances that work in the field. Go to conferences and meetups, you will learn a lot and you can grow your network. If you think you already have an idea of what you want to pursue, target some companies or colleges and arrange meetings to learn more about the field, linkedin can help you to achieve this.

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Walk me through a day in your life as a Portuguese woman in tech.

Fortunately, my days are very unpredictable. One day I can be working from the Lisbon office, the next day I might be in a client meeting in the US, Brazil, Australia or England. However, if I were to describe my most typical day, I would say that most of it is spent in meetings, either internal meetings with the data science teams, where we discuss project status and next steps, or meetings with the client, where the team collects and addresses the client’s needs.

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I do not recall the exact words, but it was something along these lines:

Do not be afraid to make mistakes, because you certainly will, more than once, no matter how old or knowledgeable you are. You grow from the mistakes you make, learn from them and move on, there is no point on dwelling too much on them.

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What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Gmail, google docs, google calendar, SQL, python and, of course, Feedzai’s own software, Pulse :)

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Links that you want to share?

Feedzai - www.feedzai.com

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Anything else you want to share?

Some random facts about me: my favorite color is yellow, I eat too much chocolate, I have a cat named Teca, my favorite book is Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky) and I like to think I am funny :)