Get to Know Anita Lillie, Senior Data Scientist at Practice Fusion
One of our data science panelists says she loves combining her creativity with nerdy technical skills.
By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)
Today we’re introducing you to another one of our amazing speakers at the How To Conference. Anita Lillie will be joining other data scientists on October 1 to be part of our panel titled, “How to Take Data Science in the Real World in Your Business.”
Here’s some more about Anita’s background: Anita Lillie is a data interface designer, developer, and visualization specialist. For over 12 years, Anita has worked to create visualizations that make data clear and actionable in a wide range of fields, including genetics (Stanford), music (MIT), mobile (Nokia Research), social networks (LinkedIn), and healthcare (Practice Fusion), and most recently as a consultant to some awesome data startups. Anita has a B.S. in Mathematical and Computational Science from Stanford and a Masters from the MIT Media Lab.
Anita currently works on the data science team at Practice Fusion, a health technology startup in San Francisco. When she isn’t working, Anita is usually on a bike trail near Skyline, climbing rocks or eating dessert.
Women 2.0: How do you typically spend the first hour of your day?
Anita Lillie:A hearty breakfast of course! And a tiny bit of caffeine. My morning routine is truly a “routine.” I do the exact same things every morning at the same time: tea and yogurt and fruit, quick email scan, shower and leave. I know that might sound like the military… but I have a train to catch!
The moment I leave the house I’m walking and riding the train for the next 1.5 hours, and I use this time to think, reflect and set my priorities for the day.
Women 2.0: Who was an early role model who inspired your career in tech?
Anita Lillie: Honestly, I can’t name just one. I’ve been inspired by all the people around me, from my parents to my teachers to my peers and colleagues. There is a piece of every person around me who inspires me to be, or not to be, like that person. I just have to be mindful of what I think that piece is, and how I want to incorporate it into my life.
Women 2.0: What do you love about your job?
Anita Lillie: I feel fortunate to have found something that I am both good at and I enjoy. It’s the kind of job that I would hire myself for.
Day to day, my greatest joys come from working with smart, amazingly fun people and getting to combine creativity with nerdy technical skills.
Women 2.0: What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
Anita Lillie: (Couldn’t pick just one…)
Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable.
Ask questions without worrying what other people think of them.
Early on, say ‘Yes’ a lot. You’ll get to practice saying ‘No’ a lot later.
Women 2.0: What are a few apps or tools you couldn’t live or work without?
Anita Lillie: Tableau, Illustrator, Evernote, Hipchat or Slack, iTerm, Sublime.
Women 2.0: What did you learn from your greatest failure? (And if you’d like to share what it was, we’d love to hear it!)
Anita Lillie:I see my life as a series of failures, and I think that’s a good thing. My career (and life) has been a constant process of trying and failing, and trying and succeeding, to find a path that works for me. I enjoy this process very much and see failure as a way of learning about myself and the world.
When I try to think of what my “greatest failure” has been, I immediately think of the time early in my career (about a year out of college) when I didn’t try very hard to make my job worthwhile for myself. However, I know that I took that time because I was burned out from years of school and doing what others expected of me, so I really needed a break. In retrospect, this was a turning point for me in that I started doing what *I* expected of myself. It also taught me the value in taking the time to rest in any transition, in order to spur more growth later.