Sam Zimmerman, B.A. 2012

CEO, Sagewell – Cambridge MA

2012 Major: Philosophy (with High Honors), minor in Mathematics

How has being a Philosophy graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"I rely on the ability to take large, complex problems with a variety of types of information (social, emotional, analytical), step back, derive a clear and concise statement of the problem and a systematic exploration of a set of solutions and their values to be a skill I learned in philosophy and lean on every day."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Philosophy programs? 

"I would encourage folks to feel confident that exploring what can be arcane, distant ideas will be useful in more everyday examples. Also, I would encourage folks to explore empirical methods of answering philosophical questions in the domains they are most interested in. I studied a lot of philosophy of language and logic, and got interested in ML and NLP in 2010/2011, which was instrumental for my career and allowed me to develop my toolbox for thinking about the questions around language and meaning that I find most motivating. Taking an "engineering" approach almost always informs and enhances my thinking."