Árdís Elíasdóttir finds many similarities between Astrophysics and Amazon


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Astrophysicist thrives in career at Amazons Development Centre

Astrophysicist thrives in career at Amazon's Development Centre

Árdís Elíasdóttir was born in Iceland and earned an Astrophysics PhD in Denmark before joining Amazon's Development Centre in Edinburgh. She now works as a Machine Learning Scientist and is enjoying life in the Scottish capital. She moved to Edinburgh with her husband, who is Irish and also a physicist, for the job opportunities and the beautiful landscape.

Similarities between Astrophysics and Amazon

Árdís Elíasdóttir works in the Dynamic Advertising group at Amazon's Development Centre, where her team personalises the shopping experience for customers by delivering adverts that are likely to be relevant on an individual customer basis. Astrophysics and Amazon might seem very different, but Árdís sees several comparisons between working as a researcher and working for Amazon.

One similarity is using experimentation to learn. “We frequently run experiments to improve the customer experience here at Amazon” she says. “It reminds me of the approach you would take in science, where you don’t let your feelings make decisions for you, but instead you go out and verify or falsify your theories.”

Another similarity is the programming. “In Academia you have to write a lot of software, even if it’s not at the same standard as what we have here at Amazon,” she says. Finally Árdís highlights the use of analytics and data as something vital both in astrophysics and at Amazon.

Adopting Amazon's Leadership principles

Understandably, the Amazon Leadership principle Árdís connects with the most is “Learn and Be Curious.” Árdís applies this principle to her personal life too. “In my free time I like to explore the nature around the city,” she says. “Even during my lunch breaks, I’ll often go for a walk. My favourite lunchtime spot is probably Calton Hill.” Calton Hill is a well-known location in central Edinburgh beyond the east end of Princes Street and included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage site. Views from the hill are used in photographs and paintings of the city.

Árdís says that she feels very welcome in Edinburgh. “People are unbelievably friendly here,” she says. “They have basically opened their hearts and homes to us. I have lived in many cities as an expatriate and this is by far the easiest to feel at home in.”

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