An Interview with Appdev lead Beato Bongcon;I strongly believe that humans and computers work better together.
Position: Appdev lead
Joined: April 2023
— Could you tell us about your career path and professional background?
I started working in tech startups early in my career after a short stint in a Fortune 500 consulting company where I discovered I really did not enjoy corporate life.
The first startup I worked at, a cloud syncing company, was a revelation: that you could focus on building without too much red tape and rules, and have colleagues who were really into tech and not just interested in clocking out at the end of the day.
After almost 5 years there, I wanted to find a more focused and interesting career path so I decided I wanted to get into artificial intelligence. Having no background, it was quite hard but thankfully there were many resources online. I stumbled into a government-sponsored bootcamp too! (Thanks DOST!)
After some years of self-study, I got to work for a startup data science company starting as a data engineer and later on moving to machine learning products, being the technical lead for natural language processing products. We worked with big companies in APAC building data lakes and machine learning systems for them, particularly semantic search.
I left when it became clear the startup was focusing less on products and more on consulting — we had also grown our headcount from around 30 to 100+.
At one point, I led a remote engineering team for a fledgling silicon valley NLP startup. It was tough since we had engineers in 5 different timezones, but the work on semantic search was interesting.
And now here I am at Bespoke!
— What motivated you to join the current company, and what were the deciding factors that led you to make that decision?
I joined Bespoke because ever since BERT was released in 2019 I have had a deep belief that NLP is the future. I wanted to join a NLP company with an existing product and a good user base.
What better way to show a machine understands natural language than by it talking to users? I think Bespoke does this well with Bebot. It helps people with their information needs and can even warn people of disasters. Bespoke works with the Japanese government as well, which is no easy task.
I like that the company stays abreast of recent developments in the field, and there’s a lot of research and development going on internally.
— Can you describe the work environment at your current job?
The people are all very skilled and all very nice — a super great combination if you ask me. I’ve met people on the other end of the spectrum and I can tell you the quality of your colleagues will really dictate your experience at work.
Being a startup, it goes without saying that there’s a lot of uncertainty to navigate. It’s good that people here are generally self-starting, have good ideas to share, and focus on collaborative problem-solving. Here it feels like you have a lot of strong allies.
— What is your role within the company, and what do you find most rewarding about it?
Appdev lead. I just took the position recently so I can’t comment about it yet. I’m just happy that the previous team lead took a lot of time to ease me into the role and that my teammates are both nice and skilled, great at understanding users’ problems and brainstorming about how to solve them.
— What are some challenges you have faced in your current role, and how have you overcome them?
I’ll tell you in a couple of months! But from experience I know that being a lead means there is even more uncertainty to navigate. So it will be a good workout for my decision-making muscles ;)
— What are some goals or initiatives that you would like to pursue in the future?
I strongly believe that humans and computers work better together. It’s not about building robots to replace people and take their jobs. It’s about freeing humans to do more impactful and rewarding work, or augmenting humans’ decision-making abilities.
I would like to spearhead and support initiatives like those in our company!
— What qualities do you think would make someone a good fit for the company?
I think someone who is both nice and skilled, and who is not afraid to navigate uncertainty. Someone who can push for their ideas or support others’ good ideas.
— Is there a message you would like to convey to potential candidates or anyone considering joining the company?
Yes, come dive in. The water is warm and the people are nice!
For more information about employment at Bespoke, please visit https://www.be-spoke.io/careers