Sarah Bumiller, Software Engineer at Ovation, discusses her path to computer science from professional equestrian life and her excitement in bettering patients’ health through access to genomic data.
The path that led me to become a software engineer at Ovation was unique. After graduating from the Foster School of Business, my day job was managing a small industrial packaging company. My nights and weekends were spent as a professional equestrian, training and showing horses locally, with the dream of competing internationally. My plan was that once I reached a certain level in the sport, I would cross-over to horses full time. As I inched closer to realizing my dreams, I had an epiphany and realized this trajectory was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. I struggled with what to do next- I knew that if I was going to take myself out of the sport I loved since I was a toddler and enter corporate America, I needed to do something that felt purposeful and contributed to society in a big way.
A dear friend and fellow engineer encouraged me to give computer science a shot. I dove head-first into a CS program at Seattle University and was recruited to Ovation by my teacher during my last quarter. It was evident in the interview process that I would be joining a team of driven and passionate people, and that by working hard together we could positively impact human health through genomic data and improving precision medicine. Sign me up!
My time at Ovation has been dedicated to building the internal tools to curate cohorts for datasets we want to sell. I have designed and delivered the full stack feature that allows our product and research teams to see the number of patients and samples in our biobanks for disease areas of interest, and then dive further into these grouped patients seeing their medical journey and other linked data. The team can then take these groups and iteratively construct cohorts that we ultimately sequence and deliver to customers, along with linked clinical data.
The natural progression to the tools I have built is delivering these datasets through AWS Data Exchange. I helped launch our first genomic datasets, doing the engineering tasks required to publish these products, and continue to find a lot of excitement in doing this work as we add more products to our portfolio.
If you had told me 2 years ago, that I would go from mucking stalls to building software that is bettering healthcare through genetic data, I would have said you were crazy. Especially given that there is so much conversation about how hard it is for women to forge careers in tech. While I do not want to discount the legitimate industry imbalances, I am proof that it is possible to have a thriving career as a female engineer when you find a company with a supportive culture. I could not have accomplished everything I have without the people at Ovation. They are smart, intentional, and laser focused on supporting the mission and each other.
I did not expect that as a brand-new engineer, I would been thrown into work that stretches me so much and keeps me constantly building my toolbox. The second I start to feel comfortable, I get work that pushes me further. Its common in tech to hear “get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” but I think the degree to which the people at Ovation care that you don’t stagnate and support you through growth is exceptional.
We move fast and furious, collaboratively building software to improve people’s lives and I am fortunate to be along for the ride!