Anyone who thinks technical chops and fashion sense are incompatible needs to meet our latest Geek of the Week, Kate Matsudaira, vice president of engineering for SEOmoz, the Seattle-based search-engine optimization software company. When not overseeing the company’s engineering or hunting for new hires, she’s dreaming up new ideas that mix fashion and tech.
She even has a geeky tattoo, as she explains below in one of her answers to our questionnaire.
Name: Kate Matsudaira
Job, hobby and/or other geeky pursuit: VP Engineering at SEOmoz
Coolest thing about what you do: Big data sets, distributed computing, machine learning — oh and eating pie (we have lots of treats at the SEOmoz office). Although now that I think about it none of those are very cool. I also love fashion, so it’s kinda fun to surprise people when I dress nicer than the average geek. But, I still love wearing sweatpants at home!
What does it mean to you to be a geek? Being a geek is about a constant drive to always be refining and improving; whether it’s optimizing your database schema or your daily exercise routine. Anyone can be one, but I think there’s something about spending your teenage years glued to a computer screen that encourages this aversion to the typical archetype.
Geekiest thing you’ve accomplished, built or worn: I have a tattoo made of math symbols. The only thing geekier would probably be have to be a tattoo of an actual equation.
Your best geek tip or trick for managing everyday work and life: Always be learning new things.
Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Sisko? Picard– a great, ethical leader. Watch “The Offspring” episode to see what I mean. Also, he’s pretty cute: http://picard.ytmnd.com/
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Time Machine – I put my foot in my mouth so often, I would love to be able to rewind. Turning on the “don’t send for 10 minutes” in my email was one of the best things I ever did. :)
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Dip into my bag of startup ideas. I’m constantly coming up with future projects I can’t wait to dive into. Current leading ideas involve lingerie and paperless office SaaS, more on that some other time.
I once waited in line for … The World of Warcraft expansion pack. It was well worth the wait (I had a level 80 Night Elf for those who are curious).
Your geek role model: Richard Feynman. He was smart, accomplished, and he knew how to laugh at himself.
Greatest Game In History: Go — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game)
Best Gadget Ever: I am pretty in love with my iPhone. Magical, as Apple would say.
First computer: An Apple Macintosh SE30
Current phone: iPhone
Favorite app: Words with Friends – seriously I love Scrabble.
Favorite hangout: My house. I really like being at home. :)
Favorite cause: Anything to do with animals– I’ve got 4 dogs, but I also love cats.
Most important technology of 2011: I’m pretty excited about some of the advances in big data processing. It is getting so much easier for anyone to have access and perform operations on big data sets and that is empowering a whole assortment of new applications.
Most important technology of 2015: An iPhone with Flash (just kidding). Related to the last question: dramatically less expensive cloud computing technology should make large, scalable projects affordable to all, but I’d also really like a hoverboard.
Some final words for your fellow geeks: For your career: Build your proficiency in open source technology and do lots of personal projects. In life: be honest, know your strengths, work with people who motivate you, and always try to have fun. Oh, and the love you take is equal to the love you make!
Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more. Do you or someone you know deserve this distinguished honor? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Geek of the Week photography by Annie Laurie Malarkey]