November 24, 2021

Jeengster Spotlight: Yair Even-Zohar

In this edition of “Jeengster Spotlight”, we’re excited to introduce our Chief Data Scientist, Yair Even-Zohar!

Yair grew up in Herzliya, Israel and lives there today with his wife and two children. He lived in the USA for 12 years — 10 of them in Illinois and 2 in NYC. He got his BSc in Computer Science from Haifa University and then went straight on to get his PhD from the University of Illinois. During his PhD, he took a class about Machine Learning and fell in love with the field.

Yair joined Jeeng as the Chief Data Scientist in 2020.

Let’s learn a bit more about Yair!

1. What do you love most about your role at Jeeng?

There are two main things. The first is the geeks I work with. The second is that sometimes the task at hand is really difficult and it’s not known in advance if you’ll be successful. It’s a mystery, and it’s really fun to solve that mystery.

2. What advice do you have for someone also interested in that type of position?

Nobody knows everything, so when you’re working with smart people, listen to what they have to say. (Even when you disagree and it’s really annoying when they’re right.)

3. What are 4 tools you can’t live without?

Not sure if you’d consider all these things “tools” but I can’t live without:

  • A computer — my job is useless without one
  • A ventriloquist dummy 
  • An office (or an official meeting place)
  • A pub

4. What is your favorite quote, and why?

I have two: one for work and one for life. The one for work is “If you want to be smart, be smart about getting data” – Eric Brill. The one for life is “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” – Carl Jung.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

There are a couple of things I would tell my younger self: 1. It will be ok. (but I probably wouldn’t have listened to that…) and 2. Whenever you make a decision based on what you like, it’s usually the best path. Don’t make decisions based on money, fame or title. If you choose what you really like, those other things will come.

6. What superpower would you choose, and why?

Mind control, so I could truly make world peace.

7. What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

Chile! The people, the scenery, the wine — everything there is great, and everywhere you go is beautiful.

8. What’s the coolest thing about your job?

What we do is really cool. We predict the future according to the past. In that way, we are like futurologists.

9. What’s the nerdiest thing you do in your free time?

I play computer games — my favorite is Torch Light.

10. What are some of your hobbies?

A lot of circus stuff — Ventriloquism, clowning, juggling, unicycling, etc. I also practice Tantra.

11. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure & why?

Eating sufganiot (donuts).

12. What’s your favorite book?

The Lord of the Rings trilogy – I loved it far before the movies came out!

13. What animal best describes you, and why?

It’s funny you ask. For my birthday, my wife surprised me with an episode of “You Can’t Ask That” with all my friends answering questions about me, and one question was “What animal would Yair be?” One friend said I would be a turtle because I could take my home on my back. I don’t need much. But 3 other friends said that I would be some kind of parrot because “he doesn’t shut up and he wants to be pretty”. But personally, I would prefer to be a sloth. They are always smiling and just hanging out all the time.

14. What’s at the top of your bucket list?

Wow, so many things. 3 weeks hiking in Anapurna (Nepal), doing the Camino de Santiago, and to go to Antarctica… I’d also really like to do another ventriloquism performance at some point.

15. What’s a pet peeve that nobody knows about?

I’m not proud of this, but I once broke up with a girl because she walked up stairs like my grandmother. I couldn’t stand it.

16. What’s your biggest accomplishment from your time at Jeeng?

Launching MSP recommendations – It’s an algorithm that recommends content to users, and it’s doing better than ever before.

17. What’s something you want to do in the next year professionally that you haven’t been able to do before

I would love to be an advocate for science, math and data science and make it accessible to all members of Israeli society. I would like to volunteer as a mentor for underprivileged youth in Israel and teach them about those fields.

There you have it! We hope you enjoyed learning more about the people who power this company and have helped get us to where we are today: the only personalized Push & Email Messaging Platform built exclusively for publishers.

If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, drop us a note.

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