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Giulia Cassarà – Meet the Mentor

I’m a Silicon Valley Tech entrepreneur, researcher, and Ph.D. student in Data Science. I use my research and entrepreneurship skills every day across different situations.
Giulia Cassara

Researcher, Intel

Why did you decide to become a mentor?
Leadership is a skill that requires practice, and the best way is through mentorship. Mentorship is a reciprocal, interdependent relationship. As a mentor, I teach and learn from the mentee and vice versa. In my role as CTO, I lead the company’s technical initiatives, and in my role as a Ph.D. student, I tutor many people and assist with thesis work. Moreover, I enjoy helping people in my community and being valuable to them. Knowing I have made a difference in someone’s life makes me feel fulfilled.

How did you get your career start?
At the beginning of my bachelor’s studies in Computer Science and Engineering, I had a close friend who managed a team for a large company. He noticed my potential and taught me helpful stuff and the necessary mindset to solve any problem. He also encouraged me to explore other topics like psychology, management, and business because I had that attitude. It was the best advice ever! The proper guidance of a mentor can change your perspective on things and yourself. After several years I founded a company with my life partner while doing my master’s degree and Ph.D. later. Usually, everyone puts themself some limits, but I am from another opinion. You should do what you want, not what other expects you to do.

What do mentees usually come to you for?
Many mentees need help with some technical problems in their daily jobs. They feel overwhelmed by the abundance of online data science material and need a reasonable learning path based on their background. Usually, mentees ask me to help them change careers and give guidance on the required data science and machine learning skills needed for a particular position. Some want help building a portfolio of activities, and I give them practical strategies to stand out against the crowd. I actively listen to their problems and comfort them when they feel insecure. It is necessary to keep the causes of stress in check, adapt to the situation, and move forward. Mentorship is a two-way relationship; I expect the mentee to be active and sincere with feedback. Initially, I ask questions about my mentees’ lifestyles and how much effort they want to put into achieving their goals. Then, based on their background and long and short-term goals, I create a strategic roadmap of actions and skills necessary to develop to achieve these goals. Mentees can always expect a strategic friend that makes everything required to help them reach their goals.

What’s been your favourite mentorship success story so far?
My first mentee came to me desperately when his job demanded a time series classifier. The data was messy and hence difficult to handle by standard procedures. It was challenging, but he was willing and determined, so we could successfully deliver the task. Then, I helped him feel more confident about his technical skills by giving him a learning path best suited for this background and the amount of time he was willing to put in. He ended his mentorship feeling grateful and ready to move forward in his career.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?
Unlike lecturing, much of what happens in mentorship meetings is open dialogue. Because of that, I get my perspectives regularly opened and sometimes challenged. It is an excellent opportunity to strengthen and deepen my relationships and keep my existing skills strong. As I previously said before, mentorship is a two-way form of relationship. Hearing what my mentees say and their perspectives help me grow and develop my own. Some of the people I mentor are in high management positions, and because of that, I hear and learn about their experiences, and I can use them to build my leadership perspective. Finally, it feels so good to help individuals find solutions and get where they want to go!

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