Sabrina E. Bouker, Computer sciences lecturer, Author
👩🏻💻 Job: Preparing and giving lectures in Artificial intelligence, Knowledge Management, Functional programming and research
🇬🇧 Algerian living in UK, Watford
👶🏻 A girl (18 months) and a boy (3 months)
📝 Content she develops: - Blog - Book “Mon bebe fait ses nuits dès l’âge de 7 semaines”(My baby sleeps at the age of 7 weeks)
🐥 Social media: - Instagram - Author Facebook Page : Sabrina E.Bouker
Resources she enjoys
- Impact theory podcast: Interview series that explores the mindsets of the world’s highest achievers to learn their secrets of success.
- The school of greatness: The goal of the School of Greatness is to share inspiring stories from the most brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities.
Career & parenting: being a fulfilled teacher, write a book, host a podcast about AI
Teaching: feeling of purpose in life
✦ You’ve been a Computer Science lecturer for the past twelve years (Artificial Intelligence, Functional Programming, Knowledge Management). What do you like the most about your job?
There are two aspects that I like the most about my job. Firstly, teaching as a profession is very rewarding. When I see how I have influenced my former students, how they are doing well today in life, especially those who reach to me and tell me that I had an impact on them. That makes me extremely happy and gives me a feeling of purpose in life.
Because you know even if you teach technical courses, your personality, your way of interacting can have a lot of impact on young students.
The second aspect is that I like computer sciences, specially artificial intelligence. Obviously, it’s a fascinating field, especially the part that studies and tries to simulate the human brain.
✦ What are the challenges you’re facing with AI?
Staying up to date is one of the challenges to be in Tech, especially in Artificial Intelligence where research and academia has big competitors: the giants of Silicon Valley. This is definitely a challenge to be able to teach students the latest discoveries in the fields.
I would also say that, keeping up with the new generation and trying to give an interesting course is also a challenge. As they spend more and more of their time on social media or on Youtube, they can be easily bored or distracted.
So a few years ago, I experimented with one of my classes to give the lectures on Youtube. They voted whether they prefer the course’ pdf or on Youtube. They chose the second, and it worked. They were happy to find their course on Youtube wherever they needed it. The only rule was that I uploaded the course once the real course was done… Otherwise I would have found an empty amphitheatre :-).
✦ What is the favorite subject you like to approach?
My favourite subject would be learning and predicting which involves machine learning, Deep learning but also human learning and thinking as well, and how we can as scientists simulate the human brain in his learning mechanisms, intelligence and why not emotions.
Motherhood & a fulfilled career
✦ As a mother, have you changed the way you interact with your students?
Oh yes, I never thought about that before, it’s funny how maternity can change your perspective on the people who are surrounding you.
I’m still in contact with a lot of my students after they graduated and started their career. Before I used to consider them as my younger sisters or brothers, especially when they approached me for advice. But now, I think of them as my kids and always wonder if my daughter and now my son, will be like one of them at their age. Oh yeah, when you become a mother you’ll tend to mother everyone :-).
✦ We often say that maternity is a Revolution. Did it impact the way you overlook your career, your job?
I have chosen to stay at home at least the first three years of my kids life because at the opposite of a young woman who might have her family at the beginning of her career, I had already a very fulfilled career when I started mine.
In fact, I have been a software developer, an IT Administrator, Business manager and IT consultant and finally a lecturer. I think because of that I feel less pressure about the impact of having kids. But I can definitely understand that it might be more difficult for a woman who is at the beginning of her career to balance her personal and professional life.
A book about baby’s sleep based on a scientific method
✦ You wrote a book about baby’s sleep (literally “My baby sleeps at the age of 7 weeks”). You said that your book is based on a scientific method, could you explain, please?
Yes indeed, as a scientist but also as a mother I had to study and understand all the existing theories on parenting styles and their respective results. I have combined different strategies from multiple parenting styles and proposed a unique way to take care of a newborn based on its specific needs.
All the facts about sleep, feeding and routine exposed in the book are backed scientifically, I have in fact referenced all the studies and researches that I used in the book.
For example, the routine “Feeding, Play, Sleep” has been experimented with more than 500 newborn, and it got results in more than 90% of them. Also, the choice of 3 hours routine is based on a scientific study done first in the forties and repeated recently.
✦ It seems like since your daughter arrived you have engaged in many projects (writing a book, launching an AI podcast). Was maternity a booster for these side-projects?
I have always wanted to be an author since I was thirteen and met Jo Marsh of “little women” :-)…
I ended up studying computer sciences because I was intrigued how those boxes can talk and answer human requests (This is what I thought when I saw on TV engineers using MS-DOS black interface). But deep inside I always wanted to write books.
So when I was pregnant with my daughter, I started a book about womanhood, mainly an essay about love and happiness. But I found myself divided by reading parenting books in the morning and reading books about self-development and womanhood in the evening. I was at 20% of my book when I decided to focus only on the most important thing for me at that moment which was parenting.
I started studying and taking notes, comparing results of different methods, and a few months later I had in hand enough material to write books about the subject. So when my daughter was three months and I had witnessed personally that having a baby can easily be managed as long as we have the right information to guide us, I decided to write my book, for me first and for all the women that would like to enjoy their maternity. A second part of the book that I wrote and didn’t publish yet is about the tumults of pregnancy.
So yes, definitely maternity gave me the real boost to finally write that book :-)
Side-projects: Taking care of our mind and cognitive’ capacities while taking care of our baby
✦ You created FreeMindSchool, a podcast about AI. What was your motivation creating it?
Thank you for this question, as it makes me think deeply about my real motivations behind my podcast. Well currently, I’m not working, I’m a stay home mum :-), I have decided to stay for at least three or four years with my kids.
So I started the podcast mainly for three reasons: firstly for me it’s a way to stay up to date with the latest advances in the field of AI. That will eventually help me a lot when I’ll be back to work.
Secondly, as I explained earlier I’m a lecturer. I used to teach my students, to influence them. I had my voice out there helping them understand the subject. The podcast is my current voice to reach out and help those interested in the domain.
Finally, the podcast along with my books represent my “Me“ projects or “my self-love” technique because you know maternity could be so rewarding but so overwhelming at the same time. I think it’s extremely important for a stayed home mother to take care of herself and her mind and cognitive’ capacities while she’s taking care of her baby.
How do you organise to handle your work / life / side-projects balance ? :)
That’s a big question :-), Currently I’m not working, but being a mother of two is a 24h job! I wish I had found the magic formula to extend the hours and be able to do what I aim for during the day but no! So, what I do is to try to schedule my different activities around my babies’ routines, which is the main idea behind my book. I have worked on that since their early days, so now I can more or less predict when they have a nap, it allows me to plan ahead different activities.
A trick that I use is to consciously prioritize my kids’ needs.
Which means when I’m about to start writing, reading or any other “professional” activity, I’m always consciously aware that it’s ok if I have to stop because some unexpected event with my kids happens, one of them woke up early from a nap for example.
When your brain knows that it’s ok to switch to something else when necessary, you are less frustrated.
I would advise young mothers working in tech to take the time and to slow down a bit and appreciate those precious early years with their baby. Indeed, as a working mum, you may feel less competitive because of your new obligations, but the little angel will grow up quickly, and you’ll have a plenty of other opportunities to perform in your career.