How AI Can Impact Your Business and What It’s Like to Work in Silicon Valley [Podcast]

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00:08 – James Intro
00:48 – The resurgence of AI and how it impact business
06:35 – Early career and moving to a start-up
10:24 – Shifting from software engineering to account management
13:06 – Living in San Francisco versus remote working
14:42 – The pro’s and con’s of living in Silicon Valley
16:40 – ‘Monoculture’ in Silicon Valley
18:45 – European working culture versus American working culture
21:25 – How does the cost of living compare between London and Silicon Valley
28:46 – How to keep in touch with James

Welcome to episode #15 of the Fliplet podcast! We were joined by James Grafton, software engineer and account manager at Google. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in Silicon Valley, or you’d like to know more about AI and machine learning, then be sure to check out the full podcast.

Who is James Grafton?

Upon completing his degree in computer science and AI, James began his career working as a developer for IBM. He moved onto work for none other than Fliplet (that’s us!), before he became an account manager in the ‘Living Room’ team at Google.

AI and machine learning

James referred to something that Mark Zuckerberg said when he was asked if AI is just machine learning. He stated,

“AI is AI up to the point where you understand what it’s doing, and at that point it’s just maths.”

In essence, machine “learning” is a computer creating advanced mathematical equations.

AI acts as a classification system in a way for us to process large data sets. In that sense it’s providing value by helping us interpret vast amounts of data that previously wouldn’t have been possible.

How is engineering different in large and small organizations?

The big difference according to James was the opportunity you have to explore the ways of achieving the goals you’ve set.

Within a smaller company, or a startup, “you have the best opportunity to succeed and to fail”, he said.

Building things from the ground up is a valuable experience, and it’s an experience that you can only really have when you’re part of a growing startup. There’s arguably more responsibility when you’re engineering within a smaller organization as well.

The pro’s and con’s of Silicon Valley

Culturally, Silicon Valley is quite different to London (where James previously worked and lived). In terms of diversity, London is full of a variety of differing professionals. You can find yourself in the same room as people in completely different industries and verticals.

However, in Silicon Valley you’ll rarely be exposed to professionals outside of the tech industry. Whilst this may result in a little less perspective, it’s arguably more beneficial as you’ll be within a tech-focused community. With that, comes more opportunity for growth in the industry.

Creating downtime from the tech industry in Silicon Valley means exploring different places on the West coast, for example. You have to go further afield to escape and see diversity than you would in London.

Working in America vs Europe

Culturally, there are a few differences according to James. For example, there is a  workplace vacation difference, with 25 days vacation being the norm in Europe, and only 15 days.

Whether you prefer the American working lifestyle to Europe, or vice versa, probably depends on your previous background and location.

The overall cost of living purely depends on where you work in both places. In San Francisco you’re limited due to the size and concentration of the city versus London, which is quite a large city. It’s a classic supply and demand scenario in many cases.

Did you find the podcast insightful? You can reach out to James by contacting him via email :