Hi, my name is Pantea, and I’ve been an engineering manager at BenchSci for the past six months. I love working here! I get to work with machine learning, which is my first passion, and the way we’re applying it—to help scientists accelerate biomedical research and drug development—is both challenging and incredibly meaningful. Not only that, the unique culture and amazing people I work with make me feel like I’m truly a part of the BenchSci family. 

Here’s what a typical day in my life as a BenchSci engineering manager looks like.

7:30 AM - 9:00 AM: Starting the day

I usually wake up around 7:30 AM, depending on whether I have any early meetings or not. My team spans North America’s west coast to the U.K., and I’m in Vancouver, B.C., so sometimes I have to be up for a meeting at 7:00 or 8:00 AM my time. Because we’re spread across several timezones, we have “core hours” intended to maximize the overlap of work hours across geographies. Core hours are great because they help us accommodate meetings and facilitate timely communication while still allowing for flexibility, though it does sometimes mean an early morning.

I definitely need to start my day with breakfast! My brain is just dead until I’ve had something to eat in the morning. After that, I try to take some deep breaths—maybe even do some stretching—and mentally prepare myself for work. Then, I head to my living room and have a seat at my desk.

9:00 AM - 2:00 PM: A typical morning

The first thing I do—before I get pulled into meetings and time starts getting away from me—is check Slack and my email. Because of the time difference, many of my colleagues have already been working for a few hours by the time I get started, so I do my best to respond to more urgent messages in a timely manner.

From 9:00 AM onwards, I’m mostly in meetings, starting with my team’s daily stand-up. This is where my team and I discuss the day’s workload and call out any roadblocks that need to be addressed. 

As a manager, I’m responsible for planning long-term projects and ensuring my team has the guidance and resources they need to complete those projects. I do sometimes miss actually coding myself, but it’s very rewarding to see the end results of what we are able to accomplish as a team. I also enjoy coaching engineers to help them reach their full potential. The best part of being at BenchSci is all of the incredibly smart people I get to work with.

Given that BenchSci is remote-first, we try to do much of our work asynchronously and offline, but sometimes there’s no substitute for face-to-face collaboration. Other meetings I need to attend throughout the day might include planning meetings, ad hoc meetings for purposes such as reviewing processes or prepping for events, one-on-ones with various members of my team, or meetings to discuss how we want to approach upcoming projects. On occasion, I also sit in on meetings with various CFTs (cross-functional teams) to facilitate collaboration, transparency, and alignment between ML and other teams. 

I must admit I’m not great at taking breaks during the morning. Once I get going, it’s hard to stop! I am an active participant in the majority of my meetings, so I don’t want to be eating while I’m speaking. However, I try to make sure to take 30 minutes for lunch. 

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM: A typical afternoon

I usually continue with meetings until around 2:00 PM Pacific, which is 5:00 PM Eastern. Most of my colleagues have signed off for the day by this point, which means I have some focus time to complete my own tasks! This is when I catch up on all the action items that came up during the day—reviewing any documents that need to be reviewed and answering any questions that need to be answered.

I should probably mention that I’m a coffee addict—I have multiple cups of coffee every day! 

5:00 PM: End of the day

I always finish what needs to be finished. I don’t like leaving something unfinished for the next day, because the next day the wild ride just starts all over again. And then, I'm happy with that.

When I’m done for the day, I walk away from my desk, and I try not to check anything until the next workday. My office is my living room, which, unfortunately, means it doesn't really have a door that I can close—so I just close my laptop instead! 

In the evenings, I like to go for walks by the seawall—weather permitting—and then catch something on Netflix. This week I’m going through an Almodovar retrospective, watching one of his movies almost every night! 

Sometimes, during my downtime, I like to find relevant articles to advance my personal education, such as anything machine learning-related that I might find interesting. Continuous learning is an important part of my job, and BenchSci is great at encouraging this—providing us with lots of resources to help us grow. I also enjoy rock climbing and snowboarding, though I haven’t had much opportunity to do either during the pandemic.

I’m super excited for when it is safe for us all to start getting together in person for homecomings and such. I'm really hoping we can do that as soon as possible—I really want to see the people I work with in person!  

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Written By:
Pantea Jabbari