Gina Chiquillo is Cosmo Tech’s Chief Software Architect. She answered our questions from her office in Cosmo Tech’s Lyon headquarters.
You came to Cosmo Tech before there was a Cosmo Tech – can you tell us how your Cosmo Tech story began?
My Cosmo Tech story started when I was working at the IXXI Lab here in Lyon on a CNRS research team as part of the Morphex project. We were researchers who had arrived from all over the world – I myself had just arrived from Colombia at the time – and we were creating a platform to model biological systems. I had worked for two years on developing a 3D model for vegetable and animal cells using a gene regulatory network model on what was then an early version of the Cosmo Tech platform. One day it occurred to us that the methodology we were using to model the complexity of biological systems could also be applied to any complex system, including industrial systems. Thus, the idea of Cosmo Tech the business was born!
What is a typical day like for you and the architecture team?
There is no such thing as a typical day for me but, if I had to try and define one, I would have to say that the only constants are adaptation, uncertainty, and change! My calendar is full at least a month in advance but, because a startup is a very dynamic environment, my first task each morning is to adapt what I have planned to the pressing concerns of the moment. While it’s comforting to have a fixed plan, priorities can shift quickly and I am always ready to adapt.
My day-to-day focus is on developing designs for what amount to ‘buildings’ or even whole ‘cities’ of software, communicating these design ideas to stakeholders, and then helping them to make that design into a reality. Achieving this means being creative, generating multiple solutions to design problems, and pitching these internally to the team at Cosmo Tech before presenting them to clients. The architecture team I lead is capable of generating solutions at all different scales but it always starts with the same focus on creative problem solving.
If you were to watch me working in the office you would quickly realise that I am a very visual person. I’m constantly drawing on paper, building physics models of the solutions we are working on, and writing all over the whiteboards in the office to ensure that what my team and I have imagined can be transformed into a reality. No surface is safe from the architecture team and you’ll find me sketching out solutions on everything from scrap paper to the glass walls of conference rooms!
Another big part of my job is coordination. I am often the central coordination point for Cosmo Tech projects, responding to client demands, architecture team designs, project manager plans, and budgets from the finance and administration team. This means that I spend a lot of my day communicating and connecting with my team, other Cosmo Tech teams, and the teams of our clients. There are a lot of meetings to fit into my weekly schedule but it’s worth it to keep people and projects aligned.
I think one of the things I like best about working in architecture is that really encourages you to become a “Jack of all trades”. I like that I could be working on a budget for a billion dollar project in the morning and then sketching solutions on a conference room wall in the afternoon.
What are you most excited about shipping at Cosmo Tech in the coming months?
Right now we are close to releasing a new feature on our platform that includes the integration of some new technologies including Apache Spark. I’m very excited about delivering this new feature. What’s more, as our platform continues to grow in functionality and power, I’m excited at the opportunities to talk more about what the platform can do in the months ahead, and also excited about the possibilities that our platform opens up for new clients, new use cases, and the new challenges this will create for the architecture team.