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AsKin Questions to John Orozco, Data & AI Technical Principal

AsKinQuestions Background

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

AsKin Questions is a series that brings the day-to-day experiences of working at Kin + Carta to light, all through the eyes of our Kin. And today, we’re speaking with John Orozco, Technical Principal in our Data & AI Practice.

AsKinQuestions Background

What does a technical principal do?

As technical principals, we pool our skills and capabilities on complex and challenging projects which we deliver for our clients. We use our knowledge and experience leveraging the best third-party or open-source platforms and tools to gather together all the different techniques and a good working team to achieve the expectations of our customers and their consumers. It’s through this that together we deliver the best solutions. In my role I like to work in an agile method, which means I'm not only supporting my team and stakeholders, but I'm also actively creating the best and most efficient experience.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I get to use my skills and capabilities to produce high-quality applications and practices — drawing on best use cases and always trying to deliver more than what our customers expect from my role as a consultant. An example of this is “Rescue Doodles”, an award-winning project where we used AI to analyze kids' drawings and recommend adoptable pets. I like how in my role I am never limited to expected tasks. I’m always delivering more.

How did you get started in data and AI?

I began working in tech 20 years ago. I worked first as a data analyst, looking at data from Oracle and SQL databases and reporting services, with the intention of helping users better use advanced functions from tools like Excel. After that came Power BI, and I evolved by working through different stages of analytics while also continuing with my studies and certifications. While doing all this, I started working as a consultant for the first time which allowed me to learn about different industries and begin to understand and solve for the business needs that executives are prioritizing. This is very important to learn, and for me personally as a consultant, it’s helped me gain knowledge on what leaders want and how they prefer solutions to be shared with them.

Around 7 years ago, I started working with advanced analytics and completed a postgraduate course on machine learning and artificial intelligence at Johns Hopkins. In 2021 I received my Masters Degree in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence from the European University of Madrid. Throughout all of these years, I’ve been constantly learning. I like this about the field, as I get to consistently find and work with thousands of tools that are literally changing day by day. And most importantly, throughout all of this learning, I’ve seen our data science work become more efficient through the evolving of services and tools from cloud providers like GCP, Azure and AWS. Continuous learning and certifications hold immense significance for me. They've empowered me to create and envision thousands of solutions for my clients.

What does the future of data and AI look like?

In the last few months, people have been receiving a lot of news about AI, especially large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and Bard. Up until today several AI solutions have been used behind the scenes for things like grammar correctors, email editors, photo enhancers, etc. This technology was created decades ago, but now it’s open to the public and mostly free to use.

AI tools have never been so easily accessible. Now, everyone can use these — for good or bad. I’ve heard use cases of people automating tasks or generating new lines of business with Generative AI. Some people are using this knowledge to create solutions, apps, or even startups. This change is going to impact every profession and every industry.

What projects are you working on?

This year I worked on a project related to Computer Vision models for a client in the agriculture industry. I trained and implemented a solution that uses AI to analyze images, detect and predict objects and extract values (statistics) from big volumes of data. These images are gathered by users or drones. We worked in teams to develop a powerful mobile application capable of delivering accurate results in seconds, even while offline.

What do you enjoy about working on your team?

I like the cross-functional integration within our team, which brings together professionals from various roles and practices — from engineering, to strategy, to product management, and delivery. We all integrate well across big projects because we have a very good support system and strategies to create connections.

What’s your favorite part of working at Kin + Carta?

My favorite part of working here is the respect I receive and the mentoring available through our People Leadership program. While we assume that every company respects individuals' free time, that’s not always the case. Often, it can depend on if a business can achieve its goals or deadlines or if someone is willing to work extra hours. At Kin + Carta, however, leaders respect family and personal time, and support us to deliver, work towards, and accomplish our goals. Another thing I appreciate about the company is their commitment to inclusion.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in many places, however my main inspiration has been my son, who tells me that I am a superhero to him. This is why I am so focused on improving myself and helping others, as I hope I am leading by example and that he will do the same when he grows up.

I also very much like music, specifically classical and meditation as well as other types like rock and pop. It all depends on my mood! I like to work with music in the background as it helps me concentrate and focus on my work, while also finding inspiration. And beyond music, in my free time I find additional inspiration from reading blogs and scientific articles. It's in these outlets where I can learn from many fields of knowledge, not just AI.

How do you contribute to Kin + Carta’s purpose — building a world that works better for everyone?

Everyday I try to learn something new from my peers and my Practice. It’s a commitment I make to improve myself. There is always a new methodology or a new tool to try, and it’s always good to test that knowledge by creating useful solutions. In my free time, I try to ideate and create different ways to use my experience to develop new things that can help people beyond the scoped projects. This is how I commit to building a world that works better for everyone.

Beyond this, I feel so identified with Kin + Carta and its motto that I have been more open to sharing my voice externally. I consider myself a tech-savvy person with a lot to teach, however I have historically not been very active on social media due to data collection practices. I’ve typically limited my exposure to the public — only sharing my achievements through direct contact. However, my perspective has changed since working at Kin + Carta, and I am now working on new articles that will be published soon. I have never been more confident or excited to share my knowledge and experience with the world. It’s through this that I see an opportunity to use my voice and my work to create a more equitable and fair future.

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