Since joining Cyclica nearly two years ago, I’ve conducted several R&D projects investigating and...
Employee Spotlight - Steve Constable
When there's a technical problem that nobody can seem to solve, Steve arrives to save the day.
His background is in Computer Science and Biochemistry, with a Master's Degree in Molecular Simulation and extensive work history in Information Technology.
As Cyclica's Director of Technology, Steve is responsible for overseeing our critical infrastructure, DevOps pipeline, IT security, High-Performance Computing (HPC), and more. He spends his time architecting challenging software designs for Cyclica's developers, crushing showstopper bugs, and ensuring that the dev is kept up-to-date on organizational best practices. In his personal time, Steve enjoys cooking (especially Asian food), working out, and playing video games.
"How do you describe what you do for a living to family and friends?"
Most of my friends and family don't have a strong foundation in biochemistry, so it can be challenging to convey all the subtleties of what we do. I usually say something like "Cyclica uses AI to try to make medicines that are safer by explicitly accounting for side effects during the design phase. We make our software and models available through our flagship product, Ligand Express, which is kind of like 'Google Docs for Biochemists.'"
"What motivates you to wake up and go to work every day?"
My alarm clock! Jokes aside, my real motivation for working hard is that I find the areas we work in so incredibly fascinating. I studied biochemistry because I was fascinated by how inert, non-living atoms can join together to create everything we know as life. The work we do at Cyclica centres around applying novel computational techniques to further elucidate the nature of interactions between biological molecules that ultimately result in effects on us as living beings. What I think about my role, I see myself as guiding the company from a technological point of view so that we can have a firm foundation upon which to continue this amazing research. That's what keeps me coming back for more.
What was your first job?"
So, technically my first job was as a 16-year old line cook at McDonald's and you can all imagine how that went. Really though, career-wise, I'd say that my first job was actually before that: I was my family's informal tech support person for all matters relating to computers, the internet, hifi stereo systems, TVs, and car infotainment systems :) After I quit my position at McDonald's I was able to leverage this experience into my first professional IT work as a junior System Admin at the local public library in my hometown.
"What's the best career advice you have ever received?"
When I was preparing to exit my previous job, which was affiliated with the university I attended, I was torn up about what impact my departure would have on my team. I was talking about it to my old academic advisor from my undergrad program (RIP Dr. Le Roy), and he said "Steve, it's not your responsibility to make sure the team can function without you. It's the team's responsibility to make sure of that." With that advice, I was not only able to make a necessary career transition for myself but now as someone in charge of managing a team at Cyclica, I work hard to ensure that we are doing everything we can to ensure that the team stays strong.
"Do you have a pet? What's he/she like?"
Yes! I have a beautiful pet cat named Betty, who travelled with me from the east coast when I moved to Toronto. She is the most affectionate cat I have ever met, and I grew up on a farm with many cats, dogs, chickens, sheep, and donkeys. Every day when I get home from work I sit down on the couch and she jumps up in my lap and starts purring and clawing me :) A bit of distance is good for us though - when I was working from home she developed a habit of standing in the corner of my room and meowing as loud as she could!
"What's something that most people don't know about you?"
While it may not be immediately obvious, I identify as a gay man and as a member of the LGBT community. I may be a little old-fashioned in that I feel like it's not always relevant or important to bring up during the day-to-day course of business. I do believe though, as is the case with popular media and video games, that visibility and representation matter to the next generation of LGBT youth who are wondering what they're going to do with their lives. To any such young people out there who may be reading: it really does get better 🌈.
Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.