Skip to main content

Melissa Valdez

Technical Consultant, Watson AI
IBM Canada
Photo de Melissa Mathers
Photo de Melissa Mathers
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Melissa Valdez is a Technical Consultant of Watson AI for IBM Canada.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Windsor, Ontario

I now live in: Toronto, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: University of Windsor (BSc 2015), York University (MSc 2017)

What I do at work

Right now, most of my work focuses on building "Virtual Assistants" using a technology called Watson Assistant. Virtual Assistants are sophisticated chatbots. Chatbots are software programs that “talk” to humans by copying human conversation.  By asking, and answering questions, they can perform tasks and assist customers. Watson Assistant is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm, a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is my job to customize the AI for a specific uses. An example of this is the program that provides advice to university students on various personal and academic questions they may have.  

My days are never the same. I have a home base at a Toronto IBM office, but about half the time I'm on site at one of our clients' offices for consulting work. Consultants can travel up to 80% of the time - 4 of 5 days a week! When I'm at IBM I work on “training” Watson so it can understand a user's input and respond appropriately. To do this I give examples of the types of questions people might ask and examples of the type(s) of answers that would make sense to a human.

My career path is

When I was in high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do! I studied physics because it was my favourite subject. Volunteering when I was a student at university helped me expand my network. Someone I met as a volunteer was my connection to IBM and helped me get the job I have today. When I was doing research, I craved more in-person interaction. When I was working in outreach and education, I found myself wanting to do work that was more technical. Kind of like Goldilocks, I found my "just right" career in consulting. Now I get to use my technical skills and my people skills equally.

I am motivated by

I love that I get to learn new things every single day. IBM is really a big company and there are so many intelligent people working here from all corners of the globe. Consulting is a business focused on people - so there is a big emphasis on learning new skills and professional development. There are many courses, online resources, and working groups, you can join to learn new skills. That definitely keeps things interesting! Plus, no two projects are the same! We are always pushing to develop new and unique customer experiences. I personally enjoy it because it's a perfect mix of technical work and interaction with clients.

How I affect peoples’ lives

The virtual assistants we are building aim to help make peoples' lives easier. Our clients are all large companies, and the virtual assistants we build simplify interactions for potentially millions of customers, and sometimes thousands of their employees, too.

Outside of work I

I try to focus on creative hobbies outside of work because I spend so much time on the computer during the day. I practice dip pen calligraphy, and I like to go to the gym or join a yoga class to keep my body moving.

My advice to others

Jump into coding as early as you can - it's just like learning any language so the longer you practise the better you'll be! Other than that, volunteer for causes you care about to keep you engaged and meeting new people.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Art
  • Computer Science
  • Foreign Languages
  • History
  • Math
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked reading
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best by doing

Related Topics

Partners

Explore Career Profiles

  • Anne-Marie Mulumba headshot

    Anne-Marie Mulumba

    User Experience Research Consultant

    I work with organizations to help them better understand their customers and users of their products, so we can improve that experience for them.
  • Curtiss Luong headshot

    Curtiss Luong (he/him)

    Security Consultant

    I help companies keep their information safe from cyber criminals.
  • Close up Businessman using calculator and cell phone for do math finance on wooden desk in office and business working background

    Petter Wiberg (he/him)

    Managing Director

    I use my math and computer science background in the financial industry.
  • Katie Mack headshot

    Katie Mack (she/her)

    Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication

    I study of the fundamental physics of the universe.
  • Ksenia Nadkina headshot

    Ksenia Nadkina (she/her)

    Software Developer

    I create code for different types of software.
  • Sergio Eduardo de Ilzarbe headshot

    Sergio Eduardo de Ilzarbe

    Chartered Financial Analyst

    I help small companies grow their business and succeed in the marketplace.
  • Peter Vlasveld headshot

    Peter Vlasveld

    Intermediate Software Developer

    I write backend code for web apps that help in Cyclica's drug discovery efforts.
  • Sara Knox headshot

    Sara Knox (she/her)

    Assistant Professor (biometeorology)

    I study ways to restore and protect ecosystems to help fight climate change.
  • Benjamin Pauquet designing a part for the lunar lander on his computer

    Benjamin Pauquet (video)

    Mechanical and Materials Engineer

    I design parts for off-road and off-planet vehicles.
  • Evaline Warmels with lunar rover in background.

    Evaline Warmels (Video)

    Mechatronical Engineer

    As an electrical engineer at Canadensys, I help build robots (lunar landers) that will explore the surface of the moon.
  • Benjamin Pauquet with lunar rover in testing room.

    Benjamin Pauquet (he/him)

    Mechanical and Materials Engineer

    I design parts for off-road and off-planet vehicles.
  • ulie Hlavacek-Larrond headshot

    Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo (she/her)

    Astrophysicist and Associate professor

    I study black holes, which I think are the most fascinating objects in the Universe!
  • Justin Rotman headshot

    Justin Rotman

    Founder & CEO

    I help to determine business strategy and lead our team to serve our customers and build our product.
  • Madu Kingsley headshot

    Madu Kingsley

    Manager, Digital Platform

    I manage a diverse team of cross-functional software developers.
  • Jim Wei tenant un drone

    Jim Wei

    Associate GIS Analyst

    I use online mapping software and programming skills to help solve real-world problems in the environmental and health industries.
  • Allison Guitor in her lab at McMaster University.

    Allison Guitor

    Researcher - Antibiotic Resistance

    I study antibiotic resistance, which is what makes bacteria able to live in the presence of antibiotics.
  • Portrait de Isha Berry

    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Portrait de Nishant Pillai

    Nishant Pillai

    Cybersecurity Director

    I help organizations protect their computer and networking systems from potential hackers and cyberattacks.
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Peter Visscher devant un tableau blanc

    Peter Visscher

    Robotic Vehicle Development, General Manager

    I work with my team to develop extreme robotic vehicles designed to operate off-road and off-planet.