As a company that was born out of CalTech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, you’d expect the Beyond Limits offices to be filled with confidential rooms, each brimming with secrets of the final frontier.
The reality is a bit closer to home, but what the company is doing is anything but normal. Beyond Limits takes advanced technologies developed for NASA at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratories, pairs them with their own commercial AI technology, and applies them to civilian, earth-bound industries.
We spoke with members of the Beyond Limits’ team to see what goes on within their offices and how their team's efforts are helping companies across industries — and beyond.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Earth, specifically in Glendale
WHAT THEY DO: Beyond Limits is a full-stack artificial intelligence engineering company creating advanced software solutions that go beyond conventional AI. They take stuff made for space and apply it here, on Earth.
PERKS: Full-coverage health benefits, generous PTO, 401(k) matching, and the ability to put your head on the pillow at night and know without a shadow of a doubt that your job is way cooler than everyone else from high school.
Kristin Lennox, Technical Head of I2oT
As a principal data scientist, it’s Kristin’s job to lead teams through the development and deployment of AI solutions for industrial problems. She is also the technical head of industrial IoT, where it’s her role to identify new opportunities for Beyond Limits.
BEYOND WORK: When she’s not at the office, you can find Kristin dancing West Coast Swing. She’s also an enthusiastic participant of Beyond Limits’ board game night where she’s known to dominate at Betrayal at the House on the Hill.
What is it like working on the very forefront of AI tech?
It’s an interesting time to be working in AI because everybody wants it, but few people understand what it does. Those who aren’t in the field tend to think of AI as being what they see on television or movies and have unrealistic expectations of what computers can do today.
Our clients definitely want to be on the bleeding edge, but we have to help them to understand what’s currently possible and also to figure out how AI will fit into their existing processes. While we’re an AI company, we’re not an automation company, so we have to make sure that our solutions will work well with people and that people will work well with our technology.
I never thought I’d work at a startup, but they approached me with an offer to work on my favorite kinds of problems using technology no one else had.”
You’ve worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, then General Electric and now you’re at a young, aggressive company. What made you want to make the jump?
It wasn’t an easy decision. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and General Electric were both very good to me, but the moves were triggered by opportunities to challenge myself in new ways. The move to Beyond Limits surprised a lot of people, including me. I never thought I’d work at a startup, but they approached me with an offer to work on my favorite kinds of problems using technology no one else had. I also knew that I’d have far greater influence at a small company, and I came here because I knew I’d regret not coming — I’ve never looked back.
Monique Perez, Sr. Technical Recruiter
Monique partners with technical teams to understand their hiring needs for current and future projects — then, it’s her job to go and find and hire the best talent.
BEYOND WORK: Outside of the office, Monique lifts weights, runs, hikes and hits the yoga studio.
What kind of people are you looking to join your team? When you do find them, what are they looking for?
My teams and I look for candidates who are smart, passionate and excited not only about the work Beyond Limits is doing but also about projects they’ve worked on in the past. We want people who are driven and want to make an impact.
Beyond Limits is huge on a work-life balance. At many startups, employees have to do whatever it takes to get the job done and a lot of the time that means sacrificing time with family and friends. We take our work very seriously, but for us, time off is equally as important, which is why we have Beyond Limits holidays. Employees get at least one workday off a month, which gives them the opportunity to recharge, focus on personal interests or hobbies, and just spend time away from the office.
What made Beyond Limits stand out for me was the people. Right away, I got a strong sense of the collaborative environment and entrepreneurial spirit, which I loved.”
Your resume reads like techy workplace fan-fiction: Tesla, Faraday Future, Virgin Hyperloop One. How did Beyond Limits get your attention?
I’m so grateful to have worked for some of the coolest companies in the world, but what made Beyond Limits stand out for me was the people. Right away, I got a strong sense of the collaborative environment and entrepreneurial spirit, which I loved. Beyond Limits is also in such a different industry than what I’ve worked in previously.
For the last six years, I’ve worked with mechanical, design and electrical engineers, so when I made the decision to join Beyond Limits, I knew I had to step outside of my comfort zone and learn about a completely new field — but I was totally up for the challenge.
You’re coming up on your one-year anniversary — how has the company changed in that time?
I can't believe it's going to be a year already! When I joined Beyond Limits, I was employee number 41 in April of 2018, and we recently hit 100 employees. It's been awesome to see the company grow and know that I’m a contributor to that growth.
Bashar Nabi, Technical Project Manager
Bashar manages projects from the discovery phase all the way to successful completion. He works with data scientists, software engineers and others to ensure everything runs smoothly.
BEYOND WORK: Outside of the office, Bashar is a martial arts expert and trains regularly while mentoring karate and judo students.
What about Beyond Limits got your attention?
Since I was a young kid, I’ve been a science fiction fan, especially "Star Trek." I am drawn by the premise that caring and rational human beings can use their intellect to apply scientific principles to improve the human condition. After college, I worked in the aerospace and commercial sectors and have always been excited by the challenge of developing solutions to complex problems that involve multiple disciplines. Beyond Limits is tackling some of the world’s most complex problems, and I feel inspired and proud to support that.
Beyond Limits is tackling some of the world’s most complex problems, and I feel inspired and proud to support that.”
With the sorts of super-intelligent people working around here, how do you manage a team without getting in their way?
My role is to clearly define ‘why’ we are building a solution as well as ‘what’ needs to be built. Once the whole team is in agreement, the ‘how’ of implementing a solution is left up to them. I think that is a key factor to unlocking a team’s potential. Once my team is clear on their objective and scope, I stay out of their way and let them execute.
In Agile practices, it is more important to focus on idle work than idle workers — idle work implies a lack of progress and frustration, whereas idle workers are available to do work. I think that focusing on removing impediments and keeping healthy team dynamics enables teams to excel.
You have quite the commute into work. Is it worth it?
I actually had other offers that were closer to home, and the long commute was definitely foremost on my mind when I thought about Beyond Limits. I was really impressed with the people I met at Beyond Limits, and I was at a point in my life where I wanted to look forward to coming into work every morning. When I realized that taking the train was an option, that sealed the deal. I get to work on the train and catch up on any emails and project status in the morning and on the return trip. It is far more relaxing than driving in LA traffic. So yes — it is definitely worth it!