SoundHound Inc. engineer, Olivia Bettaglio
Feb 18, 2020

Engineers Week 2020: Spotlight on Olivia Bettaglio

We are celebrating Engineers Week by showcasing a few of the talented engineers at SoundHound Inc., and by spotlighting their contributions to our mission—to create a world where people interact naturally with the things around them through voice AI.

As a member of the data engineering team, Olivia Bettaglio uses her engineering prowess to leverage large amounts of data to help inform responses to voice queries. One of the questions she often asks to help guide her work is “What would a user of a voice assistant ask next?”

We asked Olivia about her unique path to an engineering role and what drives her. In addition to dedicating her time to the logging and usage of data, Olivia is passionate about mentoring other women in tech. And she’ll always choose dogs over cats and books over TV.

More about Olivia in her own words:

Q: What inspired you to take on a role in engineering?

A: I actually studied Biopsychology in school. After college I attended a software developer bootcamp at Hackbright Academy. All along the way, I kept asking myself, “Is this still interesting to me?” and as long as the answer was “Yes,” I knew I should continue. Even as I’ve shifted to an engineering role, my Biopsychology degree still informs my thinking. For me, data statistics helps me make the connection between how the human brain works and how humans interact with each other and with machines.

Our Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology helps us understand how humans interact with machines. I look for patterns in those interactions to discover how people ask for information. Interestingly, when we study queries from all over the world, we find there are a lot of similarities. I guess the conclusion is that as humans, we are more alike than we are different.

Q: What led you to SoundHound Inc.?

A: Right out of bootcamp, I started researching tech companies. I read an article about innovative Voice AI startups and SoundHound stood out. It seemed to have a promising future and I knew that from a cognitive standpoint voice AI will gain adoption and importance.

Typing is primitive. The world I’d like to live in would support a mind meld between humans and machines. I’m excited to see how people will end up using voice for things like searching the internet for answers.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I really enjoy the variety in my work. I compile data for different teams — it’s a matter of who wants to use the data. My manager and upper management also value employees’ interests and passions. I get to do good work and feel truly satisfied.

Everyday I deal with large stacks of data. Recently, I branched out from data engineering to revamp our internal query pipeline powered by Kafka to improve how we monitor and retrieve data. It’s made my life easier and is an accomplishment I’m proud of.

Q: What inspires you about your work?

A: I have to say the culture. When someone new joins the group and expresses interest in a new interest, we’ll all get together after work to try it out. We get together for soccer every Wednesday, that’s one of my favorites, and we have lunch and go to Happy Hour together. I like my colleagues so much that I am currently living in a house with four of them.

Q: What hobbies do you enjoy after work?

A: I love to dance — salsa and partner dancing — and more recently Hip Hop. I even taught a salsa class here at SoundHound once.

Q: If you could have one engineering superpower what would it be and why?

A: I want it all. I want to be omnipotent and be able to instantly know exactly what an error message means and be able to easily fix it.

Q: What is one thing you’d like to tell other women interested in STEM?

A: There are many non-traditional paths to engineering. I want to be a mentor to others taking a non-traditional path and encourage other women to do be mentors too,

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) has sponsored Eweek for the last 66 years. We support their mission of motivating youth to pursue engineering careers.

Learn more about Houndify, our independent Voice AI platform here. We’re building amazing things together. Come join us. Check out our careers page for a list of current openings.

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