Meet our sixth highlighted woman in STEM, Cecile Ramombordes. She’s yet another inspiring female taking STEM by storm in the workforce. Cecile works at Monster Worldwide, Inc.
as a “Knowledge Engineer.”
Learn a little more about Cecile's background, in her own words:
“I was born in France, into a family interested in science, more specifically both of my parents were chemists. I was raised according to the principle that I had to make a difference in people’s lives. An early interest in people’s motives for doing what they do led me to study Clinical Psychology.
After university, I started my career as a Human Resources specialist in the automotive industry, working mainly as a recruiter and then moving on to HR Business Partner at Toyota European HQ, far away from STEM positions!
Then, my family moved to the Silicon Valley where many tech companies localize their products for international markets, and where my native language, French, became one of my assets for the job market. My first step as QA tester/language engineer contractor was at a well-renowned company in Cupertino where I learned all about QA testing processes and the important role of natural language online.
Then, two years ago, I had the opportunity to join Monster as a Knowledge Engineer, in charge of the French Knowledge Base, a position for which a combination of technical and linguistic skills is required. I have now gained enough knowledge and expertise to have the honor of being appointed by the European Commission as a member of the European Skills/Competencies, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) maintenance committee, which consists of 22 experts and professionals in classifications systems and terminology related to labor, training and education markets.”
Note: Cecile is our sixth woman in STEM highlight within our Women in STEM series. You can find the other highlighted woman in STEM profiles here: Data Analytics, Food Sciences, Veterinaran and Electrical Engineer.
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Read on to discover a Q&A session with Cecile to learn more about how she entered the world of STEM, exactly what a Knowledge Engineer does and how you can get there, too. And, learn a little more about the path she took to get there.
1. What’s your education background?
Master’s degree in psychology and education sciences.
2. Did you apply for and/or obtain any scholarships?
My family didn’t meet the financial requirements for me to be granted with a scholarship.
3. Did you have any internships? If so, what did you learn from them?
As part of my internship during my last year at university, I had to take personality and intelligence tests. The results led to the conclusion that I had an engineer mindset, that I should have pursued a career in STEM...which after twists and turns, I have now…and they were right, I enjoy it!
4. How would you describe your current job in layman’s terms? What does a typical work day look like for you?
“Knowledge engineers integrate structured knowledge into computer systems (knowledge bases) in order to solve complex problems normally requiring a high level of human expertise or artificial intelligence methods,” according to the European Skills/Competencies, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) description.
In our current information society, one example of a challenging, highly complex system is Natural Language, which comes easily to us humans, but is very difficult for computers to understand because of its flexibility as well as its lexical and structural ambiguities.
A single idea can be expressed in many different ways; the same word or combination of words can mean different things. But, how is a computer to deal with polysemy, differentiate denotation from connotation and implication, identify metaphors, metonyms, homophones, homographs and so on, while not having the disambiguation skills our use of contextual information and our own experience of the world give us?
• "You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen; it said, 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice." (English comedian Tim Vine)
• The fisherman went to the bank.
The job market is one area that is heavily reliant on understanding natural language. Employers post jobs online, and seekers post their resumes online, and there are millions of resumes and millions of jobs out there. Monster’s goal is to help both seekers and employers quickly sort through all those millions, to help workers find the jobs that suit them best, and to help employers find the best-suited candidates.
As a French Knowledge Engineer in this endeavor, my role is to facilitate the online communication by identifying the qualifications, skills and abilities that are being discussed regardless of the particular language the seeker or employer might have chosen to express them. In other words, using a variety of tools, programming methods, my linguistic expertise and life experience, we move away from form into substance.
If I was both a language and HR specialist when I started, I had to learn everything from the technical standpoint (proprietary programming language, data analysis, structure and extraction tools – SQL-, text annotation, regular expressions and so on…) so I can support my colleague developers in their endeavors to improve our products, mainly using artificial intelligence, big data analysis and language processing tools and techniques.
5. What do you love most about your job?
Ultimately, the feeling of achievement knowing that my work helps people find jobs that suit them by using a unique combination of language and technical skills, which is both personally and intellectually challenging and nourishing.
6. What advice do you have for students going into STEM fields?
Work hard and use your full intellectual and emotional potential, your understanding of the world and your way of solving its challenges is valuable.
7. What specific advice do you have for females going into the field?
To paraphrase the famous song, this has been a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl. Being that woman is one of our assets. We have to play to our strengths, be open-minded and whether we prefer to broaden or deepen our knowledge, continuously learn.
8. What qualities should students thinking about pursuing a STEM career have in order to be successful?
Some challenges are stubborn and what we know today is only the foundation of tomorrow’s scientific truth so in my opinion, to pursue a STEM career, perseverance and open-mindedness are keys to success.
9. What’s it like being a successful woman in a male-dominated field? Any advice?
Both in my office and in the experts group I am part of, there is gender equality, so I consider myself lucky and wish it will soon become a standard across all industries, in particulars in the STEM field where the gender disparity is huge.
10. What do you think the solution is to get more females in STEM fields?
I think a shift in the perspective and in the way advocacy is implemented are both necessary. The first step would be to offer more scholarships supporting women who pursue degrees in STEM.
Then, when the gender gap starts to diminish, role models should be advertised not only as women in STEM but more importantly as successful professionals/experts/managers in STEM with no mention of gender as if it were a given and considered the normal, or usual, state of affairs.
If you have a question for our featured woman in STEM, Cecile Ramombordes, send an email to ask Cecile your question today.
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