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To win in life and in your career, you must take risks.

Arati Deo is the living example.

Whether exploring an uncharted territory like neural networks in the early ‘90s or demystifying artificial intelligence (AI) for large companies today, her willingness to take chances and chase her dreams helped her stand out and emerge as a forward-thinking, visionary leader.

Arati talks about game-changing AI solutions her team is building, and she shares her advice to women pursuing a career in technology.

Taking risks and deep learning

During my Ph.D. at Rice University in Houston, my dissertation focused on robotic manipulators (arms) and how to control them. I had the opportunity to study neural networks, an emerging topic at the time.

I took a risk and joined a startup software company that used neural networks for fraud detection. It was my first step into the nascent neural network field.

Today, deep-learning methods—which leverage more sophisticated forms of neural networks—have become so central and sought-after that my experience in this area has given me a competitive edge. I implicitly trusted my gut and took a risk, and it paid off.

Now, I’m innovating with AI and machine learning at a much larger scale at Accenture—reimagining the future for our clients and driving social change in the world.

At the forefront of AI innovation

When I joined Accenture, I didn’t realize all the opportunity I would have to work with so many companies across industries. We truly are at the forefront of innovation.

And the best part about Accenture is having so many women technologists leading the way and having a seat at the table. The fact that I’m growing as a leader who can make bold decisions is because I’m surrounded by amazing leaders at work each day.

As the AI and Machine Learning Lead, my responsibility is not just to deliver breakthrough solutions for our clients, it’s also to ensure our people in the Advanced Centers for Technology (ATCI) in India have the right skills to stay relevant and grow their careers into the future.

Right now, we are experimenting with different AI technologies such as natural language processing, computer vision, speech and biometrics. Our aim is to combine these technologies to build solutions that help our clients transform the future of their businesses.

One of the exciting things in AI today is how image classification is changing the way we develop solutions. We are applying computer vision and deep neural networks to build solutions that empower people around the world to buy the best possible products with minimum human intervention.

Why mentoring matters

Career journeys are never a smooth ride, but the bumps along the way present great learning opportunities. And having career counselors and mentors at your side along the way is important.

In my initial Accenture days, I found myself very inwardly focused, spending most of my time and energy managing day-to-day activities. I knew I should learn from colleagues who were more connected with the external world.

When I discussed this problem with my mentor, she challenged me to stay more up-to-date and build a network. This prompted me to prioritize what was happening within my team or organization and look for external events and opportunities.

Mentoring helped me realize what I needed to focus on and muster up the confidence to go after it. Today, I take pride in serving as a member of the Grace Hopper Celebration in India committee and chairing their sessions for the past two years.

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Don’t shy away from taking calculated risks—they are the best way to grow.

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We’re igniting innovation through equality

The best part about working at Accenture is having so many women technologists leading the way, and having a seat at the table.

In today’s high-velocity technology industry, women are often still left behind. This is why we are committed to creating a culture of equality at Accenture, where every employee can be themselves, pursue their passions and advance their careers.

As leaders, we want to show that women can bring forward their talents and skillsets to solve our clients’ toughest problems. We are a leader in applying the world’s cutting-edge technologies, such as blockchain and AI, and we provide unparalleled learning opportunities to prepare women to thrive in an ever-evolving technological landscape.

My advice to women technologists

If you are looking for a career in technology, build your expertise in a niche area you are interested in. Use that as a solid foundation in your career. And, of course, learn as you go.

And don’t shy away from taking calculated risks—they are the best way to grow.

Join a team that’s using today’s cutting-edge technologies to shape the future. Find your fit with Accenture.

 

Copyright © 2019 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

 This document makes descriptive reference to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.

Arati Deo

Managing Director, Bengaluru

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