Natalia Cassagnes
Project Officer ‘’Smart ICT and Technical Standardization’’ – Big data and Artificial Intelligence
I was born in Russia and received my first Master’s degree in mathematical linguistics from St.Petersbourg State University. Mathematical linguistics provides tools for natural language processing and thus it is closely related to AI. This is one part of my background that brought me where I am today. Since graduation, I have been working in Europe, in research laboratory and in the private sector, where I grew to occupy the role of project manager for research projects in a Luxembourg-based IT company. It is in this capacity that I enrolled in the university certificate « Smart ICT for Business Innovation » program put in place by ILNAS and the University of Luxembourg. This is how I discovered technical standardization, forming also the second main building block of what I currently do. For almost 4 years now, I have been working at the GIE ANEC, an economic interest group based in Luxembourg, as a project officer for Smart ICT and technical standardization in order to develop and promote standardization activities in the area of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. In this frame, I follow actively the development of standardization for AI, provide dissemination of relevant information to the national market (through trainings, presentations, articles, news, white papers, etc.), and support standardization activities at national level by organizing work meetings with national experts. From being a simple standardization expert, I’ve become the President of the Luxembourg National Mirror Committee for the international technical standardization sub-committee ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42 Artificial Intelligence. In this capacity, I have the honor to represent Luxembourg at certain European and international technical standardization meetings.
Tell us about your career path.
Why did you choose a STEM profession?
Was your interest in STEM encouraged?

My career path started with my Master’s in mathematical linguistics. It is a fascinating field that requires both language proficiency and solid mathematics skills. I have always loved both, so it was a perfect choice for me. But mathematics could be applied in a variety of domains. I chose linguistics but it could have been another scientific field. I had the support to choose what was best for me.

How was your educational/university experience? Do you have any memorable experiences to share?

As I said, the field of mathematical linguistics is rather special, combining both linguistics and mathematics studies. This combination is rather unique and it made my class feel special. Sometimes it was a good feeling, sometimes it felt like we didn’t belong anywhere. But in the end, it is this uncertainty that gave us a way to choose who we really want to be.

Where do you work?
What would you do during a typical day at work? What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work in the GIE ANEC, the Agence pour la normalisation et l’économie de la connaissance, in Luxembourg. I develop and promote standardization activities in the area of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. Standardization is a great source of information about technology. When working on the contents of an international standard, one exchanges with professionals from all over the world, which makes the learning experience rich and multifaceted. And, promoting standardization in Luxembourg allows me to discover the local AI ecosystem, its specificities and share my knowledge about standards with the market. After all, it is through the exchanges with peers that we learn and grow.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future?

I believe Artificial Intelligence could help build many useful applications. But it has to be trustworthy and used in a responsible way. I believe standards could help with both. Standards reflect the good practices of using and developing AI but also may support the compliance with legal framework as it frequently happens in Europe. This is what motivates me to keep working in this field and encourage other AI professionals to join the efforts.

What do you like to do outside of work? What are your passions and hobbies?

I like playing the piano and enjoy swimming.

What advice would you give to other young girls and women who plan to pursue a STEM career?

Pursue your dreams and passions! A STEM career is as good for women as it is for men. After all, the first computer scientists were mostly women 😉