Irina close up a day in the life

Irina Pushkina on unleashing the power of tech, innovation, and dreams

For this edition, we sat down with Irina Pushkina, the Technology Innovation Lead at Schuberg Philis. Her specialties include creating value from visions, solving complex problems, and dreaming both at work and at home. Originally from Uzbekistan, she lives in Heemstede with her partner and two sons.

Working life

What’s your role at Schuberg Philis and how did you get there?
My role is Technology Innovation Lead, the mastermind behind the curtain. I am a part of the future-forward innovation engine Lab271, where we cook up ideas and turn them into reality. How did I land here? That was quite a journey. I started with a background in computational high-energy physics with a specialization in Monte Carlo simulations, got my PhD in Japan, and did a postdoc in quantum gravity at Utrecht University. Then, one day, I decided to venture out of academia and dive into the industry. I embraced the full software development life cycle and discovered the complicated love of business and IT at R&D companies. That's when Schuberg Philis spotted my potential and invited me for a chat. That first interview didn’t quite go as planned. They thought I’d find their role boring because I had a flurry of technical questions. Little did they know, I had a burning desire to contribute my competencies and experiences to shape their future. So, we had more discussions, all the way up to the top brass, and here I am. They created a brand-new role just for me at Schuberg Philis. It felt like a match made in tech heaven!

What’s a typical day like?
My day starts bright and early at 7 o’clock with a quick glance through emails, Slack messages, and newsletters vying for attention. It’s a mad dash of networking and conversations throughout the day. I delve into ongoing projects, trying to keep my finger on the pulse of the company. My goal? To discover where I can sprinkle my innovation magic and where Lab271 can be a facilitator of change. You see, Schuberg Philis lets me take the driver’s seat, but there are so many exhilarating roads to explore that it's easy to get carried away. It’s akin to letting a child loose in a candy store, craving a taste of every sweet treat. I am still learning to rein myself in and focus on one project at a time. This year, I’ve laser-focused my efforts on my personal ambition, aligning all my activities with that goal.

Which project are your ambitions currently pinned on?
In the magical realm of Lab271, we have this extraordinary multitouch table that boasts mind-blowing object recognition technology. It’s not just a fancy gadget; it’s a gateway to visually unravel complex problems. But here’s the kicker: we're exploring how to fuse this technology with powerful simulation techniques for predictive analytics. Picture that: we want to involve our customers in the process. It’s no longer about me tinkering away alone; it's about collaborating with the customers themselves. We’re on a quest to create a tangible proof of value and usefulness to the world. We’re bridging the gap between playfulness and tangible results, and it is a thrilling journey!

You have two Masters and a PhD in theoretical physics. Did your academic background prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
Absolutely. Regardless of what you study, academia molds your mind into a problem-solving machine. It teaches you to dissect complex problems from various angles, try different tactics, and find elegant solutions. My lucky stars guided me toward computational physics, where I discovered the power of supercomputers in tackling the problems that resisted analytical solutions. Even as I ventured into the industry, I held tight onto my love for software engineering. There’s a common thread weaving through my journey – it’s the thrill of solving problems. And let’s not forget that after artificial intelligence, quantum computing could be the next big thing.

Company culture

The Schuberg Philis Careers website invites open applications, admitting that sometimes the company doesn’t know they need a particular colleague yet. Was your experience similar?
You know, recruiters often stumble upon hidden gems during the hiring process. My interview at Schuberg Philis was an interesting ride. They didn’t just listen to my answers; they paid attention to the questions I asked. It was like they had a secret radar for curiosity. And whenever I dug deeper, seeking answers and insights, they magically summoned the right people to provide me with the knowledge I sought. It was an exhilarating feeling, knowing that they genuinely cared about people, finding the perfect fit and unleashing their full potential. It ignited a spark within me because what I bring to the table is something I feel is still fresh, untapped, and unexplored. It was like finding myself in the happiest place I could ever imagine. Would my skills and passions align with the company’s ambitions in perfect harmony? Time would show.

Do you feel that Lab271 offers a place to translate your theoretical knowledge into practical relevance?
Labs is where dreams take flight. It’s not just about dreaming big; it’s about transforming those ideas into tangible solutions. We keep a watchful eye on the ever-evolving technical market and the needs of our colleagues as well as draw inspiration from other companies’ experiences. We infuse our energy, ideas, and dreams into our vision for the upcoming year. But here’s the juicy part: we offer them to anyone who knocks at our door. Together, we expand the business proposition for our customers. It’s a delightful blend of creativity, technology, and business. And we do have our challenges and we do learn from them.

Passion project

Are you similarly visionary in non-working life?
At home, I don’t craft KPIs. It’s a place of serenity – well, as serene as it can be with two energetic boys running around! My children shatter any semblance of structure in my daily life. But amidst the chaos, we find moments to bond over our shared passion: watches. There’s something enchanting about exploring their intricate movements. I’ve even taken them apart, but I must confess, reassembling them remains a mystery to me. It's my elusive dream, my ultimate challenge: putting together a watch from scratch.

Deconstructing time sounds like a fitting hobby for a quantum physicist. How many watches do you have?
Ah, it’s an ever-growing horological family! But here’s the twist: it’s not about their price tag. It’s about the stories they hold, the history they whisper. Some watches may cost a mere 20 bucks, but they carry the weight of time’s breakthrough, exhibiting technical beauty that eventually became mainstream. I’m drawn to these fascinating pieces. It’s not just a hobby; it’s my grandest pursuit. And mark my words, one day, I shall craft a watch for my son. He’s just five years old, but I already see the glimmer of fascination in his eyes when he hears the rhythmic tick of the mechanical heart. It’s a special connection.

Curious to know more about how more colleagues spend their days? See the whole series here.