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February 20th, 2020

The Humans Behind the Bots: Sam Gaus

  • portrait of Rasa


At Rasa, our team is building the standard infrastructure for conversational AI. Behind the scenes, the people of Rasa come together from diverse backgrounds to solve today's most interesting challenges in NLP and building AI assistants. We're pulling back the curtain to highlight a few of the humans behind the bots.

Today we're talking with Sam Gaus, a Software Engineer at Rasa, working as an independent contractor based in Edinburgh. We'll learn Sam's story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies they're passionate about.

Hi, Sam. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?

I moved to Edinburgh from London in 2016 because of an extremely fortunate combination of personal aspiration and a job opportunity! I became really good friends with someone who would go on to become one of Rasa's first employees through the ineffable Rasa/Edinburgh connection (Editor's note: multiple Rasa employees have lived and studied in Edinburgh over the years). He eventually introduced me to Alan, Rasa's CTO, and I joined the team soon after as the first engineer to be fluent in frontend technologies.

Take us through a typical day as a Software Engineer. What types of projects do you work on?

On an average day I mostly work on the frontend interface for Rasa X. Our team works in two-week sprints, organized into "squads" based on goals we have identified for the quarter. I try to split my day evenly between reviewing other engineers' code, keeping up with overall changes elsewhere in the codebase and work that is part of the sprint. Aside from that, I try to spend a fair bit of time working on the overall health of the codebase: identifying anti-patterns or error-prone components and fixing them, or just overall maintenance that needs to be done.

Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?

The thought of following a feature from conception to execution and release is extremely rewarding to me, and achieving that is one of the things I am most passionate about at work. One of the best things about Rasa is that engineers are empowered to be involved at all levels of decision making, from the company's vision and goals all the way to fine details of implementation,

What's an important problem you're solving at Rasa?

We originally built Rasa X as a useful tool for a small set of use cases. As we've grown massively and let our community make use of Rasa X, our understanding of what users want from Rasa X has also grown! The big problem we're trying to solve is objectively measuring what the community actually uses from Rasa X, making and testing hypotheses and trying to make Rasa X the tool people really need.

How would you describe Rasa in three words?

Empowering, caring, exciting

How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?

The team I work most closely with is our Customer Success team, who give the engineers vital feedback on what our customers need (or think they need!) and what areas of the product are causing the greatest friction.

How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?

I've learned so much while working at Rasa, from starting a product basically from scratch as the only frontend engineer, to releasing it to the community, to dealing with a very quickly growing team. Aside from that, working in a company with a big open source offering connects you to your users in a way that I never had the pleasure of experiencing in the past, and really grounds you in terms of considering what is and isn't important to address in your product roadmap.

What's the most interesting thing you've learned lately?

As someone who comes from a broad engineering background I am constantly learning a lot about how AI works in theory and in practice, what the challenges are to those trying to make it useful and the kind of mindset you need to overcome them.

Thanks Sam! You can find Sam on Twitter and GitHub.

Want to team up with Rasa? We're hiring! Find open positions for Software Engineers and other roles on our Jobs Board.