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Larissa Suzuki, Machine Learning Practice Lead

Larissa always wanted to be an engineer and as a child she would take radios and computers apart to see how they worked and if she could improve them with a little invention. So a career in computer science was a natural fit for Larissa enabling her to dream up all of the amazing inventions no one else has thought of yet, and then design and develop them for public use!

Age: 33

Job title: Machine Learning Practice Lead

Company employed by: Google

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
An engineer. I have always been fascinated with things that move or change state, like machines, cars and electronics equipment. My main curiosity when I was a child was to understand the mystery behind those things that made them behave the way they did, and also how could I make them do what I wanted them to do instead.

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
Technology is part of just about everything that touches our lives from phones and cars, to movies and games. It influences how we do business and communicate with other people, and it solves the most impactful problems in the world, like creating clean energy or detecting cancer.

What excites you most about STEM?
I believe this is one of the many amazing perks of being a computer scientist: to be able to just follow your passion and work on things that matter to you the most, no matter which field of science they fall into. My inventions and work have advanced many fields of computer science and engineering, including smart cities, data infrastructures, machine learning, emerging technology, and computing applied to medicine and operations research.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Working with real problems and projects and ensuring we can assess how our Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning tools are performing for customers. Coming up with new ideas to make our products much better is something very exciting. Working with Google teams dedicated to helping our customers and developers to see the benefits of our technology come to life is something that brings me joy.

What does a typical day at work involve?
Alongside the Google customer engineering teams, I develop new solution initiatives and the materials to support them with a broad cross-functional group of stakeholders to help define solutions, use cases and grow their strategy. I ensure technical and commercial readiness of these solutions, including assets to enable the go-to-market teams, and provide UK-centric field feedback to Product and Engineering teams to help shape product direction.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are very fast paced fields which are dramatically being transformed with new innovations. I work to ensure customer’s key performance indicators and drivers can be met with the technology, and recommend new ways to customers so that they can adapt to the challenges facing modern enterprises related to scale, speed and user expectations. These are the most critical parts of my work as a Practice Lead.

As well as this, Google customers must have access to the latest state of the art technology from Google and the expert support needed to implement, use and maintain these  technologies can be very challenging to accomplish.

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
I had no role models growing up. Despite their astonishing work, unfortunately women have been erased from history. My passion for engineering and technology is what kept me in the field and moving forward.

Any influential toys during childhood?
I loved to play with Lego, as well as any radio and computer parts I could get my hands on!

Your favourite subjects at school?
Maths and Physics.

Qualifications (school/college/university):

  • BSc in Computer Science - University of Sao Paulo
  • MPhil in Electrical Engineering - University of Sao Paulo
  • PhD in Computer Science - UCL joint program with Imperial College Business School.

Your reason for choosing this career?
Working as a computer scientist and engineer I get to dream up all of the amazing inventions that no one else has thought of yet, and then design and develop them. The power to change the world today is at our fingertips in multidisciplinary and diverse teams, and the fast-pace innovation of technology fills me with joy.

Tell me about your career path to date?
I am a passionate computer scientist, chartered engineer, book author, and inventor. I am a Practice Lead for Machine Learning at Google, and my continuing academic work is based at UCL where I serve as an Hon. Associate Professor in Computer Science.

I was formerly Director of Product Management at Oracle being responsible for Industrialising Machine Learning on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Head of Data Science for Founders4Schools (start-up co-founded by LinkedIn Chairman), had a senior appointment in London Government and European Commission, and prior to that I worked at ARUP, IBM, University Labs (UCL, MIT, Lancaster, USP), and the Bank of Brazil.

I have received awards from Google, Intel, Microsoft, MIT, Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation, McKinsey & Co among others for my contribution to industry and international science. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a reviewer of grants for the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a judge of the ACM Global Research Competition.

Since 2006 I've been actively working towards increasing the representation of women in Computer Science and Engineering, and am also an Ambassador for the Queen Elizabeth’s Prize for Engineering.

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
If a young person is interested in computer science or engineering, I would tell them to forget about the stereotypes, bring all their previous learning with them (tech and engineering is very multidisciplinary), and not to worry if they haven’t got a technical degree. Everyone can become what they dream to be. I am certain that if someone dreamt about becoming a change maker, a career in any area of engineering will enable them to create the solutions that will change the world.