Enterprises Are Adopting And Embedding AI Within Core Business Processes: Seema Kumar, CTO, Global Partners Solutions, Microsoft India

“The limited presence of women in senior leadership positions in the industry is a challenge resulting in the absence of strong mentors and role models”

Seema Kumar

Women are breaking through the glass ceiling across industries and businesses, advancing to the highest levels of company divisions and management. Nonetheless, women’s participation in the technology sector, particularly in the data science and artificial intelligence domain, is still severely limited, owing to possible hiring preconceptions and fixed mindsets about women in science vs women in artistic roles. Still, the obstacles are not strong enough to deter women from entering the domain for long.

Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Seema Kumar, CTO, Global Partners Solutions at Microsoft India, in order to trace her AI journey and how AI can transform businesses. She is a senior technology leader with a proven track record of making technology products and platforms work for enterprise businesses. Earlier, Seema worked at IBM for more than 15 years.

AIM: Can you take us through your AI journey, area of expertise and why you chose this niche field?

Seema: I’ve always been fascinated with the power of science and technology and the impact it has on our lives. Over the years in my working career, I’ve evolved my learning and understanding of enterprise IT systems and architecture. My early experience has been in the area of business integration, process management and transactional systems. AI remained an academic interest until more recently, when the advent of cloud and advanced processing systems accelerated the usage and application of AI in the enterprise context.


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AIM: Elaborate on your current role at Microsoft?

Seema: At Microsoft India, I have the privilege of working with a diverse partner ecosystem across the country. Partners play a vital role in bringing our technology platforms and products to life by applying them to real customer situations. My job entails ensuring that our partners have the right level of technical skills, capability and capacity to address evolving market needs. The Microsoft Cloud today is the most comprehensive cloud offering unique abilities to partners to facilitate their customer’s digital transformation journey. 

Our team of Cloud Solution Architects work hand in hand with our partners in building IPs, co-sell ready solutions and creating differentiated capabilities across our solution areas of Cloud Infrastructure, Data & AI, Application Innovation, Modern Work and Security. I truly believe that through the work we do by enabling our partners, we are able to directly contribute to Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

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AIM: What’s the one thing that you see AI transforming completely?

Seema: AI has the ability to democratise expertise and empower individuals to do more. Across industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, retail and education, AI technologies enable front line workers to be more productive. AI is at an inflexion point and is fast emerging as a mainstream technology across enterprise businesses. Enterprises are adopting and embedding AI within their core business processes, thereby opening new opportunities to augment human expertise.

AIM: While leading a diverse team of technology professionals, what are the challenges you face? How does your experience come into play here?

Seema: I have the privilege of leading a highly talented, diverse technical team at Microsoft. I’ve grown as a technical professional myself and thereby understand the motivations and what is needed to nurture and grow future technical leaders. Defining strong technical career paths and encouraging individuals to stay technical can be challenging at times. That is where tapping into an extended network of mentors and role models is important.

AIM: What challenges do you believe women face creating a niche in the world of tech? What will be your advice for women who want to pursue a similar journey?

Seema: The tech industry at large has increasingly become more inclusive, and most of the erstwhile challenges that existed are mostly non-existent today. However, the limited presence of women in senior leadership positions in the industry is a challenge resulting in the absence of strong mentors and role models. Also, the rate and pace of innovation in the tech industry is extremely high, and this requires one to be constantly upgrading their skills as well as application of these skills to real-world problems. For any aspiring leader to make a mark, it is important to stay on top of your game by embracing a growth mindset, taking on new challenges and exploring your full potential.

Be a lifelong learner. I must say, find your passion in what you do and give it your 100%. Do not hesitate to network, connect and learn from others. Surround yourself with smart people, nurture and cultivate your internal and external networks. Have a strong set of mentors who can invest time in your growth and can share with you their lived experiences. Be sure to nurture and grow other women leaders and do your bit in giving back.

AIM: Being in this industry for more than 20 years, do you think that there is a dearth of women especially in the field of data science? Can you share some particular reasons behind the same?

Seema: While the representation of women in technology has significantly improved in recent years, there is still a significant gap, and the field of data science is no exception. We need to encourage more girls to take up STEM careers at an early age, and the efforts need to go back to the school levels. We also need to encourage women to take up more leadership positions, be active in the community and encourage other women to pursue their careers in this space.

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kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv, PGD in English Journalism (IIMC, Delhi), is setting out on a journey as a tech Journalist at AIM. A keen observer of National and IR-related news.

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