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Rachel J. Kwon nerdybio: The Nerd Community

Rachel J. Kwon

Interviewed on
July 18, 2022 in Health Mac Product

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Rachel J. Kwon, and I do many things! I earn my livelihood as Director of Clinical Product Strategy at [Ro][], a direct-to-patient digital health company, where I work with product managers, designers, engineers, and others to architect our digital care delivery system. It's the best.

Although I work in tech, I am a surgeon by training and maintain an active license as a physician in the state of New York. I quit that job five years ago and will talk about it with anyone who will listen, and I especially love hearing from other career pivoters. I don't really miss operating, and I'm much better suited to helping patients at scale with digital products. I hope that one day the surgeon thing will be more of a footnote in my story than the full story itself.

Beyond all that, I am a perpetual hobbyist and am usually building something. Recent examples include a cherry wood side table from rough lumber, my mechanical keyboard, and my personal website (a constant work in progress and my attempt to recapture the internet of our youth for myself).

What hardware and software do you use?

My work machine is a 2019 [MacBook Pro][macbook-pro] (13", 8 GB memory, 512 GB storage) and my personal machine is a 2020 MacBook Pro (13", 16 GB memory, 512GB storage). I generally use the same setup and peripherals for both work and personal stuff. I am usually in clamshell mode with a [28" Samsung 4K monitor][u28r550uqn], [Logi 4K Pro webcam][4k-pro-webcam], and alternating [Airpods Pro][airpods-pro] with [Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones][mdr-7506] depending on my mood, the need for noise cancellation, and/or the Airpods' battery meter. My keyboard is a [Drop ALT mechanical keyboard][alt] with [Drop Halo clear switches][drop-halo-clear], [NPKC Retro DSA keycaps][dsa-9009], and a Mechcables custom aviator cable. (I do have a [Magic Keyboard][magic-keyboard] on standby for when I'm in a meeting and need to do some quick multitasking off mute, to save my colleagues from the clickety clackety.) I use a [Magic Mouse][magic-mouse]. The real hero is my docking station, the [Anker 577][577], which allows me to toggle between my work and personal setups with a single Thunderbolt cable. My phone is an [iPhone 11 Pro][iphone-11-pro].

If we zoom out to my physical setup, my desk is a secondhand solid wood executive desk that I got for a great deal at Housing Works. It makes me feel like a high-powered executive in a corporate office... as I search for the perfect cat gifs to react to my colleagues in Slack. I sit in a [HAY √Čl√©mentaire chair][elementaire] which is not ergonomic at all (I borrowed it from the dining table months ago and just never put it back), but I attempt to compensate with an Ergofoam adjustable footrest. I almost always have a MUJI A5 dot grid spiral notebook and a [MUJI 0.5 mm black gel pen][gel-ink-ballpoint] at my side, and I use a Blick cutting mat as a desk mat, which is handy for drawing straight lines as well as for easy cleaning if I'm eating something saucy or crumbly at my office desk. I also set up [Philips Hue indoor lightstrips][lightstrip-plus] behind my desk to make me feel like I'm at the club, even though I never want to be at the club.

I got a [Kobo Libra e-reader][libra-2] during the pandemic so I could check out library books to read, but now I mostly use it if I'm traveling. I have a very old [iPad 2][ipad-2] that I use exclusively for reading sheet music at the piano. The piano is electric so I suppose it also qualifies as hardware - it's a [Yamaha P-105][p-105].

For work, I am most frequently switching among [Google Chrome][chrome] with at least 7 open windows, each with anywhere from 3-20 open tabs (yikes), [Slack][], and [Figma][] (enterprise). We use Google Workspace for pretty much everything ([Docs][google-docs] and [Sheets][google-sheets] are the ones I use most). I use [1Password][] to manage work-related passwords. I also use [macOS][] [Stickies][] for thoughts and observations that I think will be ephemeral and periodically either delete or expand on in an actual document, and also if I'm a meeting and have an important or complicated thought to share, I'll jot it on a sticky and drag it up near my camera so I can deliver it without looking down. (That's one nice thing about remote work - would be a bit awkward if I wrote on a sticky, held it up to someone's face, and read off of it IRL.)

For personal stuff (mostly my website but also other bits and bobs), I use [Byword][] for creating [Markdown][] files, [Sublime Text][sublime-text] for writing and editing code. I'm trying to teach myself to get more comfortable with version control and the command line, so I've been using [Terminal.app][terminal] for [Git][] commands, and [GitHub][] for hosting source code. I use [DeployHQ][] for deployment. I use [Brave][] for web browsing and Figma (non-enterprise) for visualizing almost anything.

To keep track of things I'm consuming, I use [Pinboard][] for bookmarking links, [Letterboxd][] for movies, and I recently migrated from [Goodreads][] to [The Storygraph][the-storygraph] for tracking books. I use [Dashlane][] for managing personal passwords and I have no good reason for using two different password managers other than I happen to really like both products and using two for the same purpose doesn't bother me.

What would be your dream setup?

I really like my current setup! I suppose I should get an ergonomic chair. I'd also like a numpad to go with my keyboard.

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