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A day in the life of a product manager at Facebook

Deng wakes up bright and early.

Deng wakes up bright and early.

Deng usually wakes up around 6:30 a.m. Twice a week, she works out with a kickboxing trainer first thing in the morning.

"It's a great sport," Deng said. "You feel great, but you also learn how to feel confident in your skin."

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On her commute, Deng thinks about what she wants to accomplish going forward.

On her commute, Deng thinks about what she wants to accomplish going forward.

While she's driving to work at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Deng said she starts to think about what she wants to accomplish during the day and during the week.

"This is both an everyday thing, as well as a start-of-the-week and an end-of-week thing," Deng said.

According to Deng, the drive to work is the perfect time to plan ahead because the office can get pretty "crazy" first thing in the morning.

"By doing that for yourself, you can become a better coworker to everyone else," she said.

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Deng kicks off her work day with a cup of coffee from Saint Frank.

Deng kicks off her work day with a cup of coffee from Saint Frank.

Deng usually gets to the office by 8 a.m. Her first stop is Saint Frank Coffee, a java joint on the tech giant's campus.

"It's the best coffee that you'll get in Menlo Park," Deng said.

She'll sit down for a bit, chat with the baristas, and then sometimes run into a colleague or two on her way to her desk.

"I think everyone should have a morning routine like this, where they get to talk to a few people, but they're not really in active mode yet," Deng said.

Once she's ready to switch on, Deng heads over to her desk, which is actually right by Saint Frank — a coincidence that she called "dangerous but incredible." Deng's team sits between Facebook's products team and Facebook's AI research team.

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Deng's job is focused on apply machine learning as it pertains to speech.

Deng's job is focused on apply machine learning as it pertains to speech.

Deng told Business Insider that her work always comes back to a single question: "How can we use AI to connect people and to make the Facebook community more open and connected?"

Deng and her team are responsible for "developing new ways that we can apply machine learning to built out better products." They work toward the goal of building out "new ways for AI to deliver value to people."

At the moment, Deng is focused on how artificial intelligence and applied machine learning can pertain to speech recognition.

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Deng oftentimes looks to the father of computer science for inspiration.

Deng oftentimes looks to the father of computer science for inspiration.

Deng said that her "daily job" as a product manager is to take care of her team and ensure everything is running smoothly.

Like all Facebook employees working with AI, she also takes time to think about the specific issues pertaining to the field.

Deng said that the Turing test, which tests a machine's ability to demonstrate human-like intelligence, is a "North Star" for Facebook. The test was the brainchild of Alan Turing, an English computer scientist who is widely considered the father of the fields of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

"We always ask the question, can a machine do the task by itself without a human?" Deng said. "In some instances, the machine is faster and more accurate at proactively taking down content that violates policies."

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She collaborates with a ton of different teams.

She collaborates with a ton of different teams.

Deng and her team "watch the AI field like a hawk," reading new papers and keeping informed about technological developments.

They also spend a lot of time prototyping and "thinking about what are different ways voice can be used and tracked with Facebook products," Deng said.

When it comes to ensuring productivity for both herself and her team, Deng said she always thinks about "what would happen if I wasn't operating in the room with the team?"

"Will they be able to do an amazing job?" she said. "Usually the answer is I don't actually have to be there. That allows people to be more productive across the board. We can save time and we can reserve our time for the things that are most important to ourselves."

"When you have an amazing workplace like Facebook, you're surrounded by people who really care about the product and who really care about going the extra mile," Deng added. "One of the things I've realized is we really need to internalize — as people at this company or even anywhere else — how do you really best leverage and invest in the people around you?"

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She also works with Facebook's video team...

She also works with Facebook's video team...

"I spend a lot of my time with different teams around the company who are thinking about leveraging AI in their experience," Deng said. "What are other ways we could make content on Facebook more accessible and easy to understand?"

Deng said she especially works with the company's video team, discussing topics like AI-enabled tools that can help content creators caption their videos in different languages.

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... as well as Oculus.

... as well as Oculus.

Deng's team also works closely with Oculus "to build out voice control in a hands-free, eyes-free environment."

"A lot of my time is spent working with product areas that could use speech recognition," Deng said. "This includes any place where audio plays a role in the user experience, like Oculus and video captioning."

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Deng works on different areas of the product that could potentially use speech recognition.

Deng works on different areas of the product that could potentially use speech recognition.

To ensure that content creators can develop content in any language and still add captions, the applied machine learning group built a caption editing service.

"We got a small hacker team together to prototype the product experience that would enable you to use your voice to find Oculus content, which we then greenlit and shipped a few months later," Deng said.

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She first got into AI at a Facebook hackathon a few years ago.

She first got into AI at a Facebook hackathon a few years ago.

"Facebook's culture is really unique," Deng said. "If you have an idea, you have every opportunity to build it."

That's actually how she came to enter the field of applied machine learning.

"When I was an outsider, before I joined the group, I actually was really intimidated by AI and what applied machine learning meant," Deng said. At the same time, she was interested in what the technology could do.

So during one of Facebook's famous hackathons, Deng ended up forming a team with some of her old engineering colleagues and a number of people she works with today. Their project focused on how AI could be used to recognize people in videos, and thus ensure that Facebook users always see videos that align with their interests.

The team ended up getting the opportunity to present to a mini-prototype forum as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and CTO Mike "Schrep" Schroepfer.

"Having that type of audience is amazing," Deng said. "And getting to interact with other people in the company really superpowers your career and your ability to learn."

After the hackathon, she applied for Facebook's applied learning group and landed a role. She said that, since she joined the company, Facebook has increasingly taken on more and more ambitious projects, like AI.

"Facebook is still very much the rocket ship that it was five years ago," Deng said. "It moves extremely fast. We're thinking about how can we build a community for even more billions of people and how can we invest in state-of-the-art technology to get us there."

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She takes a lunch break in the middle of the day.

She takes a lunch break in the middle of the day.

Despite her busy schedule, Deng said she takes some time to grab "a bite from the café in my building."

Occasionally, she'll swing by Facebook's classic campus to check out other lunch options.

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When she needs to brainstorm, Deng goes on a stroll in Facebook's rooftop garden.

When she needs to brainstorm, Deng goes on a stroll in Facebook's rooftop garden.

Deng said that she "absolutely loves" Facebook's rooftop garden. Oftentimes, she'll go on "walking one-on-ones" with coworkers up there, to brainstorm and check in. She said that these mile-long strolls help spark her creativity.

"We have amazing gardens and birds and bees up there," she said. "And it actually opens your mind up a lot. You think about new ideas. As you're walking and you're getting your exercise in, you really feel like you can connect with your coworker in a very casual and comfortable way."

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Deng unplugs before bed.

Deng unplugs before bed.

Deng said she tries to leave the office by 6 p.m. When she gets back home, she said she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen.

"I really love cooking," Deng said. "As much as I like to work out, I think I like to cooking even more."

Deng will scour Instagram and read cookbooks in search of the latest recipes to try out. She also unwinds by taking walks and cleaning the dishes.

She strives to be in bed around 10 p.m., and makes sure to shut down her phone before she turns in.

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Achieving a work-life balance is 'more of an art than a science,' according to Deng.

Achieving a work-life balance is 'more of an art than a science,' according to Deng.

Before she turns in, Deng also spends some time contemplating the day ahead.

"I start thinking about the next day, of course," Deng said. "But I also want to emphasize it's really important to take time to unplug yourself. It's easy to just keep looking at your phone and looking at your laptop and thinking, 'What else do I need to do tomorrow?'"

When it comes to achieving a work-life balance, Deng said, "It's more of an art than a science. If someone's figured out the secret to a perfect work-life balance, I'd like to meet that person."

Deng said she credits her ability to balance her life with the support she receives from her partner, family, and friends.

"I'm not a superhero by myself," she said.

Are you a current or former Facebook employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

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