“To uncover a sense of order behind complex data is intriguing.”

In our ‘PAIR Faces’ interview series, we ask colleagues about their role at PAIR Finance and get to know them personally. This time we spoke to Connor Kendel, Senior Data Scientist at PAIR Finance.  

First of all, we would like to know a little about you and your background. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in a small city at the mouth of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. Here I spent most of my time outdoors at the beach, sailing or at the ice rink. After graduating high school I went on to study economics and earn a bachelor and masters degree with a specialization in econometrics. Following this, and in the midst of realizing my one true passion for good beer, pretzels and bread-like goods, it became apparent to me I needed to move to Germany to start my professional career. As a product of this I have been in Berlin since 2019.

How did you join us and what has your career been like since then?

Leading up to my joining of PAIR Finance, I had several interesting rounds of discussion with our CTO Dmitry. We talked about projects I had completed in university, I did some [beginner] coding, and discussed whether I could make a meaningful contribution to the team. The rest is history!

My career since joining has always been an exciting one. It has included lots of variability in work topics and responsibilities, and adapting to the needs of the company as it grew from Start Up to Scale Up and beyond. It’s been a rollercoaster (in a good way) of a role, and I’ve worn many hats, doing as best as I could to learn and execute the principles of data engineering, software development, deployment and of course machine learning / data science.

What do you do as a Senior Data Scientist at PAIR Finance?

My role as a Senior Data Scientist at PAIR Finance has mainly focused on [Deep] Reinforcement Learning, with a more recent shift to Large Language Models. The high-level goal is usually to implement a model or methodology which will increase the speed of finding a solution for consumers and the amount of recovery for our clients. The lifecycle of one of my projects would roughly follow these steps: classification of the problem scope, identify a metric to influence, pick out a suitable methodology and research its use, train this model and evaluate results, deploy model in production by coding it into our API and putting it in the cloud, monitor A/B Experiment results.

What do you find fascinating about Machine Learning?

I find the fact that it is possible to uncover a sense of order behind absolutely chaotic and complex data incredibly intriguing as well as satisfying. You take mountains of seemingly unrelated information which are on a non-humanly fathomable scale and pull out a set of rules or trends which describe the underlying behaviour of a complex system. Its kind of being like a fortune teller or psychic, except its grounded in scientific rigour.

What is a common misconception about AI?

I think a lot of people believe that AI is some all-encompassing super-tool that you can just turn on or off and easily put into use from one day to the next. The fact of the matter is, in my experience, that there is usually a team of skilled practitioners that are doing an incredible amount of work in order to utilise such systems.

What do you like most about PAIR Finance?

What I like about PAIR Finance is the autonomous but result oriented working culture. The important thing is working toward a good end-result and not always how it’s done. I believe that we all like to have a good time and enjoy what we’re doing, so there’s never a dull day in the office. 

And what is your life like outside the office?

Outside of the office I like to be outdoors and active with friends or maybe going on a bike-tour or sailing. In winter my life basically consists of [Ice] Hockey, where I play multiple times a week as well as volunteer at a local organization for youth in sports. If I must be indoors then I am probably staring at my houseplants waiting or wondering why its not growing a new leaf at this very second.

Where can you be found in Berlin?

Eisbahn Lankwitz or a certain tasty taqueria in Prenzlauer Berg.

Describe PAIR Finance in three words.

Friendly Focused Folks

Ready to change the world of finance with us?

Would you like to work together with Connor on the future of the world of finance? Then we are very much looking forward to getting to know you. Find our job openings here.