Meeting… Katerina Iliakopoulou, Lead Software Engineer

Illustration by Claire Merchlinsky

“Meeting…” is an ongoing series from NYT Open that features New York Times employees from different corners of the company. In this installment, we meet Katerina Iliakopoulou, a lead software engineer.

What is your name?
Katerina Iliakopoulou

What are your pronouns?

What is your job?
Lead Software Engineer

What does that mean?
I help build products that enable the newsroom to reach our readers.

How long have you been at The Times?
Four years.

Most Times employees are working remotely right now. Where are you working from these days?
I’m working from my apartment in Astoria, Queens.

How do you start your day?
I usually try to go out for a run for 30 minutes. I’m lucky to live right next to the waterfront, which means I get to enjoy the skyline views. Also, there are very few people outside early in the day.

When I get back home, I get ready, make coffee and start working by checking email and Slack.

What is something you’ve worked on recently?
I’m working on understanding how New York Times content ranks on Google Search and collaborating with the newsroom to develop the tools that help them optimize for off-platform performance.

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on at The Times that you’re especially proud of.
That would be the work I did as the tech lead of the messaging group to scale our in-house messaging platform that sends newsroom-produced newsletters and push notifications. I led my team to redesign the platform architecture so that it can still send newsletters and push alerts to an increasingly growing audience, while also improving their delivery speed. I presented this work at O’Reilly’s Software Architecture conference in New York at the beginning of 2020.

What was your first job?
I worked as a research assistant in the Centre for Research & Technology — Hellas (CERTH) in Greece on a European-funded project for viral news detection. During this project I had the opportunity to work with journalists from different news organizations, such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle, to develop a tool that helps reporters find breaking stories from social media posts.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I dance tango!

What is your secret to career success?
Work hard and help others as you would hope they help you.

What is your superpower?
If I’m tired, I can fall asleep anywhere regardless of what’s happening around me. I have fallen asleep in clubs, loud bars, parties, on the beach, you name it.

What are you inspired by?
My fiancé. He is brilliant and a constant inspiration for me to do more and aim higher.

Name one thing you’re excited about right now.
I have been focusing a lot on my yoga practice, so I’m excited to start reaching some new levels, such as being able to do a handstand.

What is your best advice for someone starting to work in your field?
Be intentional in your work. Know how you want to grow in your career and look out for opportunities that will help you build those skills. At the same time, be open to working on things you didn’t plan to. You might be surprised.

Meeting… Katerina Iliakopoulou, Lead Software Engineer was originally published in NYT Open on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: New York Times