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Julie Buard: Bringing out the human touch in data science

Julie Buard
Grid Services product owner
GE’s Grid Solutions

Julie Buard: Bringing out the human touch in data science

Julie Buard always had a knack for mathematics and physics, but it was the human aspects of STEM that fully engaged her and sent her on a path to machine learning and energy.

Today, Julie, in her role as Grid Services product owner, works on EnergyAPM, data analytics software - specifically designed for Power Transmission and Distribution asset performance management. Originally from Paris, she currently resides in North America for the past seven years, earning a master’s degree in civil systems from the University of California at Berkeley, working in data science and then moving to the energy sector.

“This is what I was passionate about!” said Julie, who moved from California to New York and Minnesota before relocating to Montreal, Canada, two years ago. “Given the increasing penetration of renewable energy, this is an exciting time.”

I also like the fact that this is, in the end, still a very human-centered field. Even if you design the best solution on paper or an efficient optimization algorithm, in the end, this is your end-user that will take the final decision. This is why, behind each digital solution, there is human expertise, behavioral modeling and communication putting it at the core of the design process is what will truly drive long-term value generation!”

Bringing diversity to STEM

Although we are not there yet, Julie believes it is becoming easier for women to enter the STEM fields as more countries and companies put Inclusion, Diversity & Equality (ID&E) as part of their objectives. “Women bring a lot to the STEM field and are key to the ability of a company to provide the best solutions by allowing a diversity of ideas to come up with an optimized design,” she said. “For a young lady ready to embrace the engineering career, I would advise her not to be afraid to be herself! Do not hide the richness in you that makes you more than just a good coder or engineer! This is the diversity that makes our contribution to engineering rich!”

When given the opportunity, Julie has spoken on this topic, participating in panels such as Women in eDiscovery in Washington, DC, and the Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference, most recently in Massachusetts. She also has done tutoring in French, English and Spanish at local high schools and participates in local chapters of associations like Women Who Code and Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE).

And getting back to the humans …

Julie says the favorite part of her job is the diversity of people she works with and has been able to meet along the way. “From Berkeley to New York to Minneapolis and now Montreal, I am always impressed by the people you can meet, the local life you discover and the positive energy you find in each of these different places,” she said. Her travels have taken her to a meeting with the former President of Estonia at the United Nations. And she’s met people through the #GEwereduce Instagram campaign.
“With EnergyAPM, we have a rich work environment where collective design thinking helps to create a robust product,” she said. “And the team being international is wonderful. I like to work with people from diverse cultures, climates, time zones and customer expectations.”