Data scientist by day, and non-profit executive by night, Haroon Choudery, explains why it’s so important to democratize...
Meet Ching Yu, who was the 12th employee when she joined Komodo Health nearly five years ago. She recalls her early fascination with programming, and how she brought that love of problem solving to Komodo Health. Along with her affinity for puzzles and “twinning,” she explains why our mission resonates so deeply for her.
You’ve worked nearly five years at Komodo Health. Tell us about your professional journey.
After graduating from Mills College in Oakland with a computer science major and psychology minor, I wanted to launch my career in health tech, but I had no industry experience. I knew an engineer at Komodo, and they referred me as an intern. I joined Komodo Health for a three month internship to build an internal administrative dashboard for our flagship product, Aperture. After three months, I was excited to be hired full time and join the Komodo family.
You’re now a senior full stack engineer. How do you describe your position?
As a senior full stack engineer here at Komodo, I have had so many opportunities to learn different skills. In Aperture, I worked on valuable front-end features such as map components and visualizations. In Pulse, I focused on the back-end, building APIs, data pipelines, and database designs. At the end of the day, I was able to learn how to deploy these technologies and bring our products to life for our customers. I love figuring out solutions to hard problems.
Wow! Have you always been a problem solver?
I like folding origami and solving puzzles. I like challenging myself because it puts me outside my comfort zone and that’s how I grow. So I put myself into situations where I’m really not comfortable and feel anxious in order to learn more.
What led you to engineering?
I became fascinated with computers when I was very young. I would borrow my brother’s computer to play on the Neopets website, where I created a virtual shop webpage. At the time, I could customize my shop by adding music and pretty backgrounds, which I loved.
You’ll be speaking at your alma mater to graduating seniors. What’s your advice for graduates looking for a new job?
Network! Find the industry that interests you, and then go to networking events, talk to people and see what it’s like to work in that industry. It’ll give you a lot of insights into your job trajectory and how you might be able to get started.
I came from a small, liberal arts college and I wasn’t connected with health tech -- but I wanted to learn more. Honestly, once you connect, people will root for you! They will help and give you resources to pursue. That’s super valuable.
Who has been a champion for you at Komodo Health?
There have been many, but a senior engineer named Seema Talele is the first female tech lead I ever met, and she’s been a tremendous mentor for me. We often have side conversations in the office and I talk to her about my insecurities, or how I should consider thinking about my next stages of growth. Should I be a tech lead? A manager? Should I focus more on my skill sets? She shares her experiences and gives advice, and I really appreciate that. It makes me feel like it’s okay to have all these questions, and it makes me want to try harder.
What’s your favorite Komodo Health tradition?
I love the running joke about twinning! Twinning is when you and a colleague share birthdays or wear the same outfits, and it happens all the time at Komodo! I accidentally twinned with Jean Barmash after we watched Cirque du Soleil at Komodo Week in Las Vegas. It was hot at the show, and we both took off our Komodo sweatshirts and tied them around our shoulders. When we realized how it looked, we had to get a picture of us twinning.
But I also love how everyone at Komodo gets into karaoke, and I love going out to lunch with coworkers. It’s so important to connect and empathize with each other.
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I can count in binary! It was extra credit in college. I can count to 31. It becomes muscle memory, much like playing a musical instrument. You almost don’t know what note you’re playing, but your fingers make the music.
If you hadn’t chosen health tech engineering, what would you be doing professionally?
Something creative. Although not my career path, art and music are still part of my life. I learned flute and piano when I was younger, but I stopped practicing as I integrated my creativity into my engineering passion. Recently I started playing piano again, and that’s been so fulfilling. I find the arts and music incredibly inspirational -- they have the power to really touch people and make a difference in peoples’ lives. They’ve made a difference in mine.
What’s something you want people to know about you?
One of the reasons I came to Komodo is because my family has a history of breast cancer. Even my dog, Honey, had breast cancer. So when I see our mission in action -- when we are closing gaps in care for patients with incredibly challenging diseases like cholangiocarcinoma and breast cancer -- I feel like I’m contributing. Our work to reduce disease burden impacts everyone: patients, you and me.
Interested in joining the Komodo Health team? We’re hiring!
Our dragons are a diverse bunch! Co-workers hail from places as far-flung as Belfast and Mumbai to the American heartland. The uniqueness and diversity reflected in our people makes Komodo a stronger team, and we are all united around one common mission: to reduce the global burden of disease.
Our “Meet a Dragon,” series will introduce you to our brilliant, intellectually curious, humble, hard-working, and passionate “dragons” who embody our core values.