Q&A with Laura Yecies, CEO of Neuro-Technology Company SyncThink
If you’re looking to join a company where you can use your tech skills and make a huge impact on brain health, take a look at SyncThink. The neuro-technology and brain health analytics company, founded in 2009 and based in Palo Alto, CA., develops eye-tracking technology analytics that give medical professionals objective metrics. SyncThink’s first product, EYE-SYNC, uses eye tracking to evaluate for eye tracking impairments.
SyncThink CEO Laura Yecies says research shows that precisely analyzing eye tracking provides a measure of both our attention and orientation – mental states that are impaired in a variety of ways. They believe their eye-tracking solution will have an impact beyond just injury. We asked her what kind of experience and expertise it takes to work in this field.
Are there challenges in finding experienced tech talent?
The war for technical talent is fierce in the Bay Area in particular, and especially for startups competing with the FAANG companies. Going head to head with these companies over the same candidates generally doesn’t work.
Where and how do you search for and recruit candidates?
As a startup we have the advantage of being able to offer candidates an incredibly tangible impact on our mission and in the case of SyncThink where we are working on a problem they can identify with – concussion and brain health in general – they get excited. Fortunately I have a broad network of technical talent from my many years of leading technology teams here in the Bay Area and of course asking that network to connect us with others if they themselves aren’t a fit. “A” Players tend to work with and know other “A” players so we have access to a great talent base. That being said, it’s important to reach and connect with new people – we welcome candidates from non-traditional programs and experiences.
Do potential candidates need to have a background or education in computer science or coding or just a passion for it and the ability to learn?
We don’t require a specific degree in computer science – I’ve worked with many talented coders who don’t, but they need hands on experience and a track record or examples of projects they have completed. Ability to learn and flexibility is critical but as a start up we need them to be able to be productive quickly.
What tech tools should candidates be familiar with? (Agile, AWS, DevOps, full stack development, etc)
The technical skills we require are specific to the role – of course familiarity with modern frameworks and processes such as agile but we look for Java, Unity, Android, noSql database and of course AWS/Azure.
What’s your interview process like?
We do 3 rounds – an introductory call to confirm skill set and interest fit with our CTO, then a technical deep dive with our lead developer and finally another in-depth interview with our CTO and myself.
Any tips on how to nail your cover letter?
The cover letter is the opportunity to show the specific fit – how your particular experiences or a subset of those experiences fits with the company job requirements.
What are your pet peeves – anything people should or shouldn’t do on their resume?
Most important is to give specific examples of what you accomplished and the impact. Many resumes are too general.
AI seems to be a rapidly growing component on new products and devices, what kinds of training or experience should a candidate have?
There are several open source toolkits with excellent training materials available – Caffe, CNTK, H2O for example would be good to gain familiarity with.
Any advice for candidates looking to get into your field?
Of course, having top technical skills and staying current but for our field, in particular, education and learning about neuroscience and eye tracking are important.