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Hi. I’m Jennie.

Greetings from San Francisco!

I write code and tinker with things.

At the moment, I’m a systems engineer at a super-awesome startup. I’ve been on a journey back to my roots, moving deeper into the fascinating innards of complex systems after spending the best part of a year thinking about data and people. Before that, I dealt with systems of a different kind as a product manager at Google, where I juggled people, decisions and deadlines and occasionally travelled the world. I shipped Google Play Games at Google I/O in 2013, focused on developer experience. After leaving Google, I spent some time working on personal gaming, data and hardware projects.

Before I moved to Silicon Valley from my tea-drinking homeland, I founded a startup in Edinburgh aimed at understanding the world’s emotions, based on my PhD research into natural language processing technology. Funded by 4iP, our most successful product was FestBuzz which catalogued the crowd’s opinion of Edinburgh Festival shows using Twitter and a dash of magic.

I’m an unabashed nerd with a handful of computer science degrees, specialising in machine learning and data. My undergrad thesis tried to solve the unsolvable (a reinforcement learning approach to playing Go); my master’s thesis tried to solve the already-pretty-much-solved (bayesian junk mail filtering), and my PhD thesis.. well, you just read above where that ended up.

One of my nerdy flags is that of a long-term gamer. Games got me into programming back when I was a six-year-old armed with curiosity and free time. Since then, I’ve gotten a lot older, worked in several roles in the games industry, and had a wonderful year playing Halo 2 competitively. I helped ship City of Villains and Guild Wars: Factions while on the NCSoft community team, then switched to WoW and helped run a world-first guild, planning and writing raid strategies. I’m also a veteran GDC volunteer, GDC Next volunteer lead, and ran the IGDA Summit volunteer program in 2013.

My interests include fitness and learning. I am a somewhat active Crossfitter and impulsively run obstacle races for fun. I’ve also been dabbling in improv comedy for the last 10 years, most recently as a student at BATS Improv. In fall 2013 I completed Stanford’s Public Speaking course and I’ve taken a bunch of classes both at and outside Google, including Berkeley Haas PM Business Training, which was essentially a mini-MBA. I actively mentor beginning programmers, usually in Python development, designing and teaching the inaugural part-time Hackbright back-end Python class.

In my copious spare time I hang out with my dog, organise women in technology events, attend hackathons and drink excellent tea.

Sound at all interesting? Let’s chat. (My email address is mail@ this domain.)

(The TED talk was “Improvising Happiness”, a 3 minute TEDU spot at TEDGlobal 2011. How can improv make you happier? I’ll tell you over a brew.)

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Jennie Lees, 2013