I was born/grew up in: I was born in Riga, Latvia and moved to Canada when I was about 3 years old. I grew up in Newmarket, Ontario.
I now live in: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I completed my training/education at: Master of Health Informatics, University of Toronto. Certificate in Data Analytics, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics from Ryerson University. B.A. & Sc. Honours Cognitive Science from McGill University.
What I do at work
I do many different jobs in my current role. A big part of my job is to analyze data from a variety of digital health programs. I create reports that summarize the information and present it to different groups. Some are inside our company (e.g., management, technical teams). Other groups are outside our company (e.g., health providers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies). Sometimes academic research institutions use the information we collect. The research I do might also be used to identify opportunities for new technology use. At times, I also get involved in business development opportunities. All this involves a lot of public speaking!
My job requires many different skills. In addition to my public speaking skills, I use my knowledge of statistics and different programming languages in my work. I also make use of my business management and business development skills.
In my job, I help solve different problems. This could be collecting data to identify which patients are the most vulnerable or at risk for different health issues, hospitalization, etc. My background in STEM helps me to think critically and apply my technical skills (such as querying, programming, applying various machine language algorithms) to the data I work with. It helps me be agile in my workflow and come up with new solutions to complex problems. I work in a team setting and work with people from different departments. I discuss technical requirements with our software developers/engineers, functional and operational work with our business and operations team, and consult with management and marketing to deliver results, provide recommendations to our clients, and deploy digital health interventions. We come from a variety of different backgrounds and have a lot of experience to bring to the table - that's why we collaborate a lot!
My career path is
Did I expect to be doing this when I was back in high school? Absolutely not! I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, specializing in cardiology. I did both my co-ops in the medical field back then... one working with personal support workers around the community, and the other in the cardiology unit at Southlake Regional Health Centre.
After high school, I entered McGill University to study cognitive science. This included neurology, psychology and computer science. While doing this program I then became interested in neuroimaging. So I completed my Honours thesis in MEG, in which I examined resting state recordings of brain activity. I really loved this work. It was so much fun!). Then I started to really enjoy coding so I completed a data science certificate at Ryerson. Afterwards I enrolled into the Master of Health Informatics program at U of T where I got to combine my passion for healthcare with technology.
I then completed my practicum at a health data science company. I realized then that this was right where I belonged! My brother, Alan, was my biggest influence in getting me into the field of health informatics/digital health. He urged me to give a try and so I did! He comes from a technical background as well - computer networking. My other influencers include my parents, thesis supervisor, undergraduate advisor, professors at U of T, practicum preceptor, tech leaders changing healthcare today, and my current CEO! They have all pushed me to work harder towards my goals and have provided me with the opportunities to do so. And I'm very grateful. All the challenges I've faced have been overcome with the help of these people and my determination to keep on keepin' on. If at first you don't succeed, get up and try, try, try again are the words I live by! I really believe that in life you need to experience failure to eventually achieve success, and that's OK.
I am motivated by
What gets me excited at work is when I figure out a complex data wrangling problem. I also enjoy producing cool data visualizations that help people make decisions. My analysis helps others develop digital health programs that work for their patients. It’s really cool to meet with health leaders across Canada and the US.
What makes data science the right career for me is being able to use my technical skills AND combine that with my leadership and business skills. It sometimes feels like the 'Arts' and 'Science' are truly coming together. I get to nerd out behind my computer screen but also interact with many interesting and intelligent folks – all in the name of advancing digital health in Canada and beyond! Best of both worlds.
How I affect peoples’ lives
I am able to produce real benefits from applying data science techniques to the health data I work with. For example, I report on patients' progress throughout our programs and figure out who is most at risk or needs the most support to meet their health goals. These goals can be anything from following their medication schedule properly, or coordinating their care a bit better so that they stay healthy. My career matters because I'm helping to bring together a wide range of data sources that are generated by people just like you. This empowers them to make a change in their lives.
Outside of work I
I've got two extreme sports to keep me going year-round... downhill/cross-country mountain biking in the summer/fall and skiing (preferably out West) in the winter. More chill activities include reading (nowadays, it's mostly non-fiction, the news, latest research in my field) and hanging out with friends.
My advice to others
If you want a high-paying and rewarding career in which you can help solve real problems and pave the way for the digital future... then go into data science!!!
- Foreign Languages
- Physical Education / Health
- Brought People Together
- Liked helping people
- Organized activities for my friends
- Played on a sports team
- Was motivated by success
- Engaged in volunteer activities
- Liked reading
- Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
- Learned Best by Doing
- Other: Was a part of the ski race team, student council, and was an orientation leader for freshmen