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Inspiring Stories: Maria Ovchinnikova

As a society, we tend to focus on titles and roles, and we forget that behind each title there is a person who has a story to tell. And truly every person’s story is unique.
In honor of International Women's day, we interview inspiring women from the community on the story of how they got into Tech, and where they are today.

In this post, I interview Maria Ovchinnikova who is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Maria Ovchinnikova

Meet Maria Ovchinnikova

My name is Maria Ovchinnikova and I am a geek who works as a Data Scientist. I have a very strong passion for technologies such as Machine Learning and Deep Learning, Computer Vision, NLP, and IoT. I love working with software and hardware and I find it very fulfilling seeing my work being used. I am also the Founder of WomenHackCPH and an Ambassador for Women in AI.

When did you become interested in technology and what evoked this interest?
I was kind of always shy when it came to tech, and when I was younger I really thought it was a “guy thing” to work with. Somehow through my studies and professional experiences, I started learning more about it and experimenting with software and hardware. Today I am a total tech nerd. It took some time to build confidence around the subject, but once you make the first steps it is almost impossible to stop.   

What education do you have?
I am a Physicist with a Masters's degree from the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Describe your way towards your first job in tech; how did you land this job?
I was not looking for a job but for a topic to work on my Master Thesis. I was looking for a project that was not pure research, but which would yield results applicable to real life. During a speed dating event at the university, I got in contact with my future employer. They had some interesting data sets that I would love to get my hands on. Deciding to work on my Master Thesis project with a company landed me my first full-time job.

Maria Ovchinnikova

Do you have any role models that influenced you?
It is women like actresses, journalists, scientists and average women who are active and passionate about what they do and they are trying to make the world a better place. They are my superheroes.

Who were/are the biggest supporters in your career?
My biggest supporters by far were and are my professors from the Universities I have studied at. 

Tell us more about your current job – e.g. what do you like most about your role?
My role? I have a very diverse interest in different areas, but what I like about being a data scientist is that there is that time when you start working on a solution with your data and you completely zone out. Nothing can stop you and you are fully dedicated to your project. That “in the zone” moment is what I love about working as a data scientist.

What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is like just another employee's day. Once in awhile the routine will be disturbed and those are the days I live for 😊 the chaotic and unusual days.

Hackathon on IWD Day

What do you do in your free time?
Free time? What free time? Besides work, I'm busy with WomenHackCPH initiatives, attending seminars and different events, and travel. When I am finally at home I usually spend time with my zoo (cat, dog, and husband 😊).

In your opinion, do you think that it’s more challenging for women to work in tech?
It is not more challenging for women to work in tech today than it was back in the day, but it is still challenging.

What advice would you give to women and girls who dream about a career in tech but feel insecure about their competencies?
Try it! You have absolutely nothing to lose.

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