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  • Writer's pictureJill Medeiros

In Their Shoes: Managing PR for a Global AI Company

Updated: Nov 8, 2020


Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Catarina is a seasoned public relations and communications strategist currently working at DefinedCrowd, a platform that collects, refines, and structures high-quality training data for AI and machine learning systems. Before pivoting into the tech space, Catarina worked in the entertainment industry at Fox International Channels and Universal Music Group in Lisbon, exploring internet and radio promotion and new business development. It's no surprise given her professional background then that she loves music. When she's not at work, you can find her hitting up live concerts or dancing with friends. Learn more about Catarina's career, pathway, and favorite tools and apps in her interview below.



Let’s start with an ice breaker. When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Catarina: Actually, for a long time, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I love animals! But when I realized I’d have to perform surgeries, I decided it wasn’t for me.

How did you find and land your current gig?

Catarina: I was scrolling through the news and I found this list of the top startups in Portugal. I was curious about what they were doing, and looked into a few, including DefinedCrowd. To my surprise, DefinedCrowd was looking for someone with my profile, so I took the chance and sent my resumé. I went through a few interviews, the normal process, and here I am.

What was your pathway up until this point? Was it linear or have you had some twists and turns?

Catarina: From an industry point of view, it’s fairly diverse. I started as an Advance Media Assistant at Fox International Channels in Portugal, from where I went to work at Universal Music Group, which is a funny turn, even though it’s still in the entertainment industry. At Universal, I worked on plenty of things, such as internet and radio promotion, or eCRM and New Business Development, which helped me broaden my knowledge within the communication sector. But the biggest deviation in my path was when I started to work at DefinedCrowd, a company that provides data for Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was a completely different industry, which led me to learn a lot of new things in the tech and AI industry.
As for the job/functions I’ve taken, it also has some twists and turns. My first role was more on the side of content and digital, while my work at Universal went from public relations to digital CRM and project management. That was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of different skills for very different areas. When I started at DefinedCrowd, we were still a very small company, around 15 people globally, and I was the only marketing-focused person in the company. This made my first role at DefinedCrowd very comprehensive – I did pretty much everything I could do on a marketing and communication department, which was a great way to learn a lot. With the growth of the company, I was able to start focusing on what I liked the most, which is communication, and currently I’m leading the global public relations and communications of DefinedCrowd, which is a lot of fun.

How would you explain what you do, and what your company does, to a 10-year-old?

Catarina: I’d say to a 10-year-old that DefinedCrowd is the teacher of the robots. At the end of the day, we’re helping the robots to understand us better and make our lives easier.

My part here is to make sure that everyone knows what we’re doing – that the whole world knows that we’re great teachers so that they come to us when they need to educate their robots.

What are the top three skills/traits a person should have to be able to do the work you do?

Catarina: I’d say being fast to adapt to change is key. The tech industry moves fast, things happen at an insane rhythm in startups, and if you’re not adaptable, you may miss out a lot that’s crucial. Being a good storyteller is also a good skill to have when you’re working in communications. And resilience is the most important trait to have, regardless of your industry or work – it’s what will make sure you’ll get there, no matter where you want to go.

What have your experiences been as a woman in a tech/AI company and with a strong female lead at the helm in a male-dominated industry?

Catarina: You can definitely tell that there are still a lot of stigmas. Especially because I have a communication role, typically for women who, in the perspective of a lot of tech people, are not smart enough to pursue an engineering degree. So, you can feel the condescension from the technical people, either it’s from your colleagues, or at technical events where they assume you don’t know anything that goes beyond the name of the company you work for, or that you’re just there to smile and wave. However, working for a company led by the super CEO and Founder that is Daniela Braga makes you feel empowered as a woman. She has a linguistics background, she has also felt patronized through her career, and she’s handled it in a way that I think is inspiring. I think having role models helps you realize that, even though you’re in a male-dominated industry, you’ll be able to make it. Unfortunately, you still have to work more than your white, male, cisgender peers, but I think that’s changing. At least, I hope so, and I’m trying to contribute to it as much as I can.

What advice do you have for someone interested in doing PR/comms in your industry? What lessons have you learned?

Catarina: Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone. You’ll be surprised by how many people will actually answer you back and that are willing to help you. I am a bit of an introvert, and I am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to talking with strangers. Since I started doing that actively, I have noticed a big increase not only on my self-confidence, but I can see the difference in the outcome of my work.



What do you absolutely need at your desk to function (top 3-5 things)?

Catarina: A coffee mug, my iPhone, a headset, my current favorite notebook, and a pen.

What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?

Catarina: Spotify. I can’t live without music! And, of course, my iPhone, to stay on top of my email and to keep Spotify playing.

Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them? (Can be work-wise or personal-wise – who is on your professional "board of directors," so to speak)

Catarina: Our Director of Product, Sara Oliveira. We no longer work together directly, but she’s the one I rely upon to help me get back to focus when my mind is flying to outer space. I also have a friend who I reach when I’m having a hard time with something on my work. I usually call him, we go out for dinner that night, and he always has the best advice and knows how to keep me from smothering my ambitions.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Catarina: It depends on my mood. I usually try to go to a live concert or go out to dance with my friends. Anything that involves music usually helps me disconnect from the world.



What’s your #1 interviewing tip for people on the job hunt?

Catarina: Have a killer resumé, proofread it five times, ask five other people to read it for you, then review it again. Nobody likes typos and having a different perspective from different people will help you.

What's one piece of advice you'd tell your former self (whether related to career or personal life)?

Catarina: Don’t let the world harden you, but don’t be naïve. Work your best to find the right balance that fits you, both on your professional and personal life.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been mentioned yet?

Catarina: Whatever you end up doing, make sure you’re having fun! And don’t stay long in places where you know you’re unhappy – it will only get worse and you’ll never get that time back.

More about DefinedCrowd

DefinedCrowd offers an all-in-one platform that leverages machine learning technology and human intelligence to deliver quality-guaranteed training data for AI systems. The platform offers fully-customizable workflows to deliver high-quality project-specific training data, helping AI products reach the market quicker.

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