A year and a half ago, the idea of leaving the world of academia for “industry” (the word used by scholars for the private sector) seemed far fetched for Nicolas Simard. He spent the majority of his time solving various problems in pure mathematics and number theory at McGill University.
But, after submitting his thesis, Nicolas attended the Ivado internship fair to see what was out there. That was when he met a few of our leaders — Phil Mitsopoulos, Carolina Bessega and Jaime Camacaro and discovered Stradigi AI.
Here, Nicolas describes his role at Stradigi AI as a Research Scientist. The jump from the ivory tower to the skyscraper may be more rewarding than one might expect.
First — tell us about yourself. Where are you from?
I’m a native Montrealer. My roots and my family are all in Montreal, and I consider the city home through and through. I wanted to stay close to home for school, so I studied mathematics at Université de Montreal, before going to McGIll for my masters in pure math, and I eventually completed my PhD in the subject.
Clearly you have invested a lot of time in academics! What inspired you to transition from the educational world to business?
In school, I was doing problem solving with math every single day. But I was missing the satisfaction of having applied, real-world way to integrate it. I started doing research, and I became very interested in finding the best of both worlds: undertaking something that’s intellectually challenging every day, and directly applicable to real-life problems.
Tell us about your day-to-day: what makes you excited to come to work everyday?
The fact that we have created a platform to streamline the research we do into useful products for real-world scenarios is amazing. As researchers, we all have our own process when it comes to working with models; but when you create a platform, all of the work we do becomes accessible, clear, and clean. You can work within the same context as people who have different specialties, and make it all come together to create an industry-leading platform that could revolutionize businesses. That’s incredibly exciting to me.
What’s one word of advice you have for someone transitioning out of academia into industry?
Well, I always tell people: it’s close to academia… but there are deadlines!Working with long-term and short-term goals and constantly assessing your progress is so rewarding because you are constantly improving your knowledge and expertise, and the sense of achievement from solving concrete problems is incredible. Even more, many of the goals we achieve are collective — and that sense of teamwork is very rewarding.