Meet the Team: Natalie Winger, Data Specialist

Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from VIA team members about things like a typical day at the office and favorite foods.

You are one of the first team members to join entirely remote during COVID-19. Can you tell us what that process was like?

It was of course a bit nerve-wracking and different than any other onboarding I’ve done before, but VIA was very organized about the entire process. My first 1-2 weeks were completely planned out with “Get to Know VIA” sessions, technical onboarding, first day lunch, and other events. I was pleasantly surprised that I never felt lost or didn’t know what I was supposed to do next or who to turn to for help. It has also been really nice to have many video calls because it has made it so much easier to get to know everyone when you can see their faces!

Have there been any funny “remote team” moments that stand out to you since joining the team?

My favorite was on my first day when Colin’s cat was climbing up the blinds behind him and playing. Colin just paused and asked “can you see my cat right now…?” and then laughed a little while proceeding to peel the cat off the curtains. It was a good moment to break from the more formal presentation and remember that everyone exists beyond the screen – and a lot of us have pets or family members or outside noises that we can’t control but are still a fun part of our lives.

What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

So far I have had such a variety of days that it’s hard to answer this question! Before standup, I usually check my Slack and continue/follow up on any work from the previous day. Then, the rest of the day I could spend cleaning and wrangling new data, prioritizing the next steps for the future of GDAC™ data, or summarizing and verifying partner data. 

I look forward to Demo days most because we get to see in detail what everyone else has been working on and it’s always impressive to see how all the details I’ve heard about in the days and weeks before all come together. I also look forward to All Hands meetings because it’s a chance to learn more about the vision for VIA, any new initiatives, and even company-wide training. Finally, on Fridays I often attend (virtual) Pub Club which has been an especially useful resource for me. Since I did remote onboarding, it’s been nice to get to know other people who I haven’t had a chance to work with yet or learn more about the people I see every day, but don’t get a chance to chat with.

What motivates you to come to the office (or work remotely) each day?

I love seeing the rest of the GDAC™ team in stand-up every morning and starting out the day with a quick chat or some stories between us! Beyond seeing other friendly faces at VIA, just thinking about the amount of transformer data that is available to us and the possible insights we can get from it is very motivating – you never know what you’ll find! I especially like that even people who are on other epics or who have worked in the GDAC™ epic in the past are still so interested in what new updates we’re making and are very supportive and invested in helping to make our team a success.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I am most proud of the first time I took the lead on bringing data from raw files to ready-to-use on the GDAC™ portal. Through many iterations of cleaning and wrangling, I gained an appreciation of all the steps that go into helping the partners gain value from their data. I also had many opportunities to discuss future ideas for wrangling, predictions, and process improvements, which was motivating to see the possibilities for the future of my work and of GDAC™.

If you were given an extra hour in your day, what would you spend it doing?

Hopefully exercising – I like to bike or walk around new areas of Montreal, or swim in the outdoor pool in the summer – but I also might spend more time on making a nice dinner or reading my book.

What is your go-to food?

Cucumbers and hummus is my #1 default snack.

What’s something everyone may not, but should, know about working at VIA?

I am continuously impressed by the speed at which changes are made at VIA. Challenging and important questions (from process changes to technical issues) are constantly being asked, and I find that multiple people often immediately chip in to help solve them. VIA is definitely a place where questions are highly encouraged, and the whole company is willing to jump in to help give you the tools and support you need to put your ideas into action right away.