Our “Faces of Abe” profile for September features the fearless leader of the Abe.ai Engineering team and someone who easily toggles back and forth between the serenity of playing piano and the rush of board sports. Say “hi” to Thomas Marek, Senior Director of Engineering.
Where do you call home?
How long have you lived there? Where before?
I have called the Sunshine State my home since 2015. Before moving to Florida, I lived in Dublin, Ireland, which was Europe’s Silicon Valley at the time. However, I’m a German native and spent most of my life in the beautiful town of Bonn, Germany.
Who calls Orlando home along with you?
I’m fortunate to have the companionship of two awesome pets – a cat named Scarlett and a dog named Selma.
Where did you attend school?
I took an unconventional path to establishing a career in my field. Rather than attending college, I instead started my career path early and mainly self-taught via a three-year professional training at a bioinformatics startup for drug discovery.
What led you to your career path?
I had my first experience with computer science when I joined my school’s computer club at fourteen years old and started playing around with the good old programming language Pascal. From that point, I was hooked with the rapid pace of technological innovation and its unlimited potential. I actually have to thank my mom for kick starting my professional career in computer science. She was the property manager of the bioinformatics startup BioSolveIT and encouraged me to apply for an internship when I was sixteen years of age. After a year, I asked them if I could do a certified three-year professional training with them, which is rather unusual for such a young company, but they agreed. My professional training was definitely a joint effort. Thank you BioSolveIT – I wouldn’t be where I’m now without you guys!
Speaking of your role, tell us more about what you do at Abe.ai…
When Abe.ai was just a young startup (aka all hands on deck), I wore a lot of different hats to get us to the next level. But the more Abe grew from a startup into a mature company, the more my responsibilities shifted from being a hands-on engineer to a strategy-oriented engineering manager to support Abe’s growth and drive our technology initiatives. That being said, I still try to get into the engineering zone whenever possible to keep the nerd in me happy.
How long have you been with Abe?
I have been around since the very beginning. I joined Abe as its second employee only a couple of months after it was founded in early 2016. Being part of a startup’s journey from its early times hacking from a small apartment office, to getting acquired and eventually growing into a mature company is an incredible experience that I wouldn’t miss for the world.
What do you enjoy best about working at Abe.ai?
Without a doubt, being able to work with so many intelligent and fun people on challenging problems as an innovator in our domain.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m currently challenging myself to learn to play piano. When not doing that, I’m trying my best to not break every bone in my body on a wakeboard or stand up paddleboard.
What’s getting heavy rotation in your music playlist these days?
To support my piano training, I use the Spotify playlist “Focus Piano” to get into the zone. For casual listening, I recently started to get back into my native music including German singer Clueso.
Favorite TV show/series?
I’m a huge fan of “Breaking Bad.”
Favorite movie of all time?
That’s a tough one, but “Fight Club” is one of my favorites.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
My family migrated with me from East Germany to West Germany actually a half year before the German wall came down and the country reunified.