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  • Lara Winkless

Introducing Lara, the Social Science Research Assistant at Kai Analytics


A photo of Lara Winkless, a woman with black hair and brown eyes wearing a striped shirt.

Joining Kai Analytics in the December of 2022, Lara’s role as the new social science research assistant involves supporting the analytical side of the research process, editing content and proposals, and delving into data-oriented processes. She is fluent in French and Bulgarian and spends her spare time training martial arts and hiking.



 

What is your background and what interested you about this position?

As a graduate from UBC (University of British Columbia), I specialized in Mathematics and Psychology, and through those fields I gained experience in software development and statistics as well. Although it’s uncommon for one’s occupation to have a one-to-one correspondence with one’s education, it feels like this role is exactly what I was preparing for all those years in university and during past internships. Hence, I was interested in the position because of the way it integrates social and quantitative disciplines. I’ve always been a firm believer that quantitative modeling has great potential to fine-tune institutional and societally impactful decision-making by concretizing abstract processes, and Kai Analytics is furthering precisely that cause.


What has working for Kai Analytics been like so far?

Since my experience thus far has been with very large companies, working at Kai Analytics has been a change of pace. Something that struck me right away was the nature of communication, specifically with our CEO, Kevin. Typically, the concept of CEO brings to mind notions of a distant figure whose name isn’t always known, and is certainly almost never encountered. These are the notions I adapted to in the companies I previously worked for, but at Kai Analytics, everyone is in constant communication with Kevin. The size of the company also creates exposure to every project, without restriction to a particular scope, so it’s easy to see the big picture of what Kai Analytics is working towards.


I was interested in the position because of the way it integrates social and quantitative disciplines. I’ve always been a firm believer that quantitative modeling has great potential to fine-tune institutional and societally impactful decision-making by concretizing abstract processes, and Kai Analytics is furthering precisely that cause.

How did you find out about Kai Analytics and what made you excited to work here?

I found Kai Analytics on a job site, and though I usually scroll a bit distractedly after a long day of job searching, it stood out to me immediately. I’ve been interested in natural language processing and quantifying abstract social science concepts for a long time, and naturally, my excitement sparked when I saw there was a company providing insights using these same techniques to large scale institutions. From my first impressions, I was especially struck by the work done for the UN, being a globally overarching organization, on disaster risk reduction.


Tell me a little bit about your role and what you are working on right now.

Every day is different for me at Kai Analytics. As the social science research assistant, my tasks span a wide range of functions, from the initial steps of the procedure, such as building surveys, to the final delivery of the analyzed data. I greatly appreciate this variety for several reasons: it allows me to fulfill my need for constant novelty and stimulation, and gives me the opportunity to learn continuously. Naturally, one cannot have experience in every tool, so certain projects I work on involve a learning curve, but this is one of my favorite aspects of the process – diving headfirst into the unknown and coming out with a whole new set of skills. The variety is no less pervasive for cognitive processes as it is for tools. Without getting too technical, every day extends a neural network.


If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would choose the ability to acquire any knowledge instantaneously; this would be useful for a mundane situation, such as figuring out how to get to a certain location, or for something more overarching, such as how to find a cure for a mental or physical disorder. In an era where information is plentiful and exponentially increasing, I think this superpower would solve humanity’s ultimate conundrum of having a limited consciousness and struggling to find the truth.




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