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Meet Kai Wen Zhang: The Fast Interview

Kai Wen Zhang, Senior Front End Engineer at Fast

Kai Wen Zhang

Role: Senior Front End Engineer

Team: Engineering

Talk about your background leading up to Fast.

I dual majored in computer science and business administration. My interest when I was young was machine learning and its applications. After I graduated, however, I realized that working with technology is more than just about catching the bleeding edge. It is also about building usable software for everyday mortals to use. So I turned my attention to frontend application development on mobile with React Native. From there, I have learned the way to work with mobile, React web, GraphQL, and, slowly, the entire frontend system. It has been a long journey since, but I still only know one fraction of application development. There is still so much to learn and so much to grow. And then I heard about Fast in May. I left Credit Karma and took a leap of faith.

Why did you join Fast?

I was truly excited when I had the opportunity to design and build sDash architecture. The engineering challenge is exciting but difficult. I also had to step up my leadership skills to direct and coordinate multiple engineers on a very technical level to meet the launch-date objectives. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I believe it will only get better from here on.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Canada. I'm originally from Vancouver, British Columbia.

What other areas are you interested in?

Back in school, I thought about what AI would look like, and it seemed to me that the two biggest areas besides big data are computer vision and natural language processing. When a computer can see and speak, then it becomes closer to having another human next to you. So we could have this machine that can help you out in a lot of places. So these days I am back to machine learning with robotics. I am fascinated by the idea of a robot that can think, see, hear, speak, and move. I will be burning my time and money in ML and robotics.

What was your very first job?

I was contracted to build an Alexa app to diagnose patients with skin infections. 

What public figure do you admire the most and why?

I'm very fascinated by Thomas Edison because he was an inventor and didn’t have a proper academic background, but he still had the persistence to keep on trying and inventing new stuff. That's the spirit that I like to have.

What app on your phone do you use the most?

I use Robinhood a lot. I realized that one of the most obvious benefits of software besides e-commerce is managing people's finances because our savings is a big part of us. And how we choose to invest it and the tools we use to manage that is really important.

What food do you uncontrollably eat?

Pineapples. Every time I eat them, my stomach doesn’t feel well, but I can’t stop eating them.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

I find Sherlock Holmes very interesting. Just how perceptive and logical he is. That's an aspiration, to be so analytical.

What are some of your favorite movies?

I really like Christopher Nolan’s films: Interstellar, I've watched many times, Inception, the Batman trilogy, Memento. And Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What personal goal would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I would like to be better at working with people. That's one of the skills that I'm not very good at. I've spent so much time working with logical problems and building features that I'm not as good at working with people.

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