team members

Team Spotlight: Introducing Global Product Manager Heidi Smith

Q&A Session by Sabrina Strauss, Office Manager

In this feature, we interview team members to learn more about their passions and their interest in water.

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Heidi, a 17-year software product veteran, has worked in the clean-tech space since 2007 in a range of capacities including product development, process management, team management, and software engineering. Recently she served as Director of Engineering at Geli, which optimizes and controls energy storage systems. Prior to Geli, she was the first employee, then CTO and Head of Product of Carbonflow, a carbon credit software company. Heidi graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt University where she double majored in Mathematics and German.

Q: What is your professional background?

A: I’ve been working in software companies for over 15 years. I started out as a Programmer/Software Engineer and worked in a variety of industries: e-commerce, HR software and financial software. About 10 years ago, I made a conscious decision to focus more on environmental software. At that time, I joined a company called Carbonflow, and I was their first employee, and later CTO. I was with the company for about 6 years, and they created carbon credits-related software, following the UN’s Kyoto Protocol. I did a bit of everything: software engineering, and team & product management. We also had mainly international clients, and I enjoyed working with them. After Carbonflow, I did some consulting for a variety of smaller environmental service companies and other companies. Directly before Valor, I worked on  energy storage software at Geli. At Geli, I started in software engineering, but became an Engineering Manager later.

Q: Why did you decide to transition full time into Product Management?

A: Product Management is something I did in all the different companies I have worked at, but in a more limited respect. Even while on the software side, I was always interested in how a user is going to use the software: is this a good experience for the user, and what is it that they are trying to solve. Therefore, I always ended up interfacing between what the customers wanted and what the engineers were building. Since I was doing it part-time anyway, it seemed like a natural thing to transition into the PM profession.

Q: Why did you decide to apply at Valor Water Analytics?

A: I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next in my professional life. I had known Janani for about 6 years at that point, and she introduced me to Christine about one year before I joined. I talked to Christine about Valor, and I really loved her vision and her no-nonsense, very decisive approach to running a company. And I found a lot of her ideas very refreshing. So I kept in touch with both Christine and Janani over the course of last year, and at some point Janani approached me about the Product Management position opening. I had been wavering between Engineering and Product Management positions. When Janani talked to me about what Xylem was doing and the opportunity of integration of all these different software companies focused on water solutions, I wanted to be part of it. I really liked the idea of doing Product Management in a period where Valor is still trying to work out how they are going to work together with the other companies and what their products are going to look like.


Team Spotlight: Introducing Lead Data Scientist, Dr. Bahman Roostaei

Q&A Session by Sabrina Strauss, Office Manager

In this feature, we interview team members to learn more about their passions and their interest in water.

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Bahman Roostaei comes from 17 years of theoretical Physics research in statistical patterns of random and quantum systems. Besides a PhD in Physics he has also an MSc degree in Data Science with focus on machine learning and advanced statistics. His main focus has been on developing software for analysis of sequential data such as water, energy consumption or RNA sequences. Bahman is passionate about environment and curious to how to monitor environmental elements using complex data. He also enjoys hiking, Persian Calligraphy and cooking in his spare time.

Q: How did you get into Data Science?

A: My background is in science, I am a Physicist. The tools and methods of prediction based on observation are the basics of what I used to do in Physics. Data Science is not much different. It just uses different types of algorithms and laws, but it is still the same for observations and predictions.

At some point I decided to change from academic research to Data Science, to come to the Bay Area and to pursue work in the private sector. At the point I made the transition, I learned about huge developments in Data Science. There used to be very little interesting activity in data science. From the time that Amazon Web Services came up and the cloud technology started to develop, big data started to become a big deal.Methods and algorithms were already out there, but they weren’t used much,  the technology for it was not advanced yet.

When I learned about AWS and learned how it is now easy and possible to use data science, I became interested I pursuing this field for my career. This was about 5 years ago.

Q: Why did you decide to apply for the Data Science position at Valor Water Analytics?

A: My first job in the Bay Area was a company that worked with meter technology and meter data, mainly electronic meter data. They measured house electricity consumption and focused on conservation of energy. I also have a personal interest in environmental data, including weather, energy, and pollution problems. I was looking for an environmental related job, but then I realized that there is also water meter technology that uses data science. That is why I applied at Valor Water Analytics.