October 12

Ala Shiban – Machine Learning Engineer Turned Product Manager #99

Machine Learning, Product Management, Software Engineering, Startup

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Biography

Ala Shiban is currently the Director of Product at Tube Science. He started his career as a machine learning engineer and pivoted to product manager after a few years.

Ala got a bachelor’s and master’s of computer science from the University of Haifa and has held down a variety of roles across a variety of domains in tech. Along his journey, Ala has worked in domains like cancer detection using nano-sensors, developer tools and online gaming. He has held titles like software engineer, research engineer, teaching assistant, product manager, and director. 

Ala has worked for companies large and small, including Microsoft and Riot Games.  As if that isn’t enough, he has also co-founded a company, started a non-profit and also started a magazine focused on hardware. 

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Quotes

“For me computer science isn’t about programming. At least this is what I found out early on. I call it computational thinking. The mathematical side and the algorithmic side of computer science is the one I find way more important than how you program.”

“We founded this website that one of the largest independent gaming websites online and that was an unbelievable experience. I went on to create HardwareHell, which was the hardware spinoff of it.”

“We have engineers that are brilliant. If you put smart and brilliant people together to solve a technical problem, they will solve it. The minute you get them together as groups or as larger organizations, it becomes harder. Tech is easy, the people are hard.”

“I can show a human being, a kid, photos of cats and dogs. And within 20 photos of each, they can probably tell the difference. We need to feed an algorithm today, the most advanced algorithm, thousands or millions photos of each so that they can actually differentiate. So there’s clearly still a gap there, and I find that fascinating.”

—Ala Shiban

Key Milestones

  1. What inspired Ala to go into tech and to pursue a masters degree in computer science?
  2. While you were at university, Ala was also quite busy with work as he started a magazine! How was he able to balance work and school life?
  3. Ala spent some time doing cancer research as an engineer. What inspired him to get into that field and what was it like working as a research engineer?
  4. After working as a research engineer, Ala decided to leave software engineering for product management. What was going through his mind at this time?
  5. What are some of the key skills to be successful as a product manager?
  6. Some key lessons learned from working at companies like Microsoft and Riot Games?

Additional Resources

Learn Python online with Visual Python! – https://visualpython.dev/

Connect with Ala Shiban
LinkedIn
Twitter

Connect with Grant Ingersoll
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