IITians Spearheading The AI Revolution In India

From Sundar Pichai and Raghuram Rajan to Nikesh Arora and Amit Singhal, many IITians have made India proud. The IIT alumni have been flag bearers of many tech revolutions across the world.

The IITians are making a mark in the domain of artificial intelligence. In this article, we are celebrating 20 IIT alumni currently leading AI in India. While some hold key positions in tech companies, others have chosen the entrepreneurial journey.

Abhinav Shashank

As the CEO of Innovaccer, Abhinav Shashank aims to organise healthcare data and make it accessible and useful. Innovaccer is working towards translating academic business research into game-changing products. 

This IIT Kharagpur alumnus also made it to Forbes 30-under-30 Asia for enterprise technology in 2017. His team aims to leverage the data collected over the years to develop cutting edge healthcare solutions. 

P. Anandan

P. Anandan recently stepped down from his role as CEO of Wadhwani AI.  Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence is a nonprofit independent research institute developing AI for social good.

He has more than 40 years of experience in AI R&D. He was the Founder and Managing Director of Microsoft Research India. He was also a professor of AI at Yale University and a member of the Board of Governors of IIT Madras. He is an alumnus of IIT Madras and the University of Massachusetts.

Anima Anandkumar

Anima Anandkumar is a director of machine learning research at NVIDIA and a Bren professor at Caltech CMS department. “Her research spans both theoretical and practical aspects of large-scale machine learning. In particular, she has spearheaded research in unsupervised AI, deep learning, optimization and tensor methods,” according to her Linkedin bio

Earlier, she worked as a principal scientist at Amazon Web Service. She has won several awards and honors including IEEE fellowship, Young investigator awards from the Air Force and Army research offices, Alfred. P. Sloan Fellowship, among others. 

Joydeep Sen Sarma

Joydeep Sen Sarma graduated from IIT, Delhi in 1996 and later completed his MS, Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997. 

He has worked in companies such as Yahoo, Oracle Corp, Datsi Appliance, Facebook. He co-founded Qubole, the first vendor to introduce Auto-Scaling Hadoop/Spark/Presto clusters, ML Platform on all major public clouds (AWS/GCE/Azure/OCI), Columnar caches and an end to end Data Engineering. He is currently an advisor at NextBillion.ai.

Lovleen Bhatia 

Lovleen Bhatia graduated from IIT, Varanasi in the year 2002 and is currently the co-founder and CEO at Edureka. 

Edureka is an online education marketplace that offers comprehensive courses in Big Data & Analytics, Cloud Computing, Programming, Application Development, and other trending technologies. “My life mantra is to be prepared for challenges. I see every challenge as learning. Another mantra that I swear by is “Be customer-focused”: customers should be the only focus for a company, not competitors!” said Bhatia in an interview. 

Manish Gupta  

Manish Gupta is the director of Google Research India and is an Infosys Foundation Chair Professor at IIIT Bangalore. He has successfully co-authored 75 papers with more than 7,000 citations in Google Scholar (and an h-index of 46) in high-performance computing, compilers, and virtual machine optimizations. Moreover, he has been granted 19 US patents. 

He had earlier founded VideoKen, a video technology startup that offers AI-based video product solutions and works on advanced video indexing technologies. He was the Senior Manager at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, from 2006 to 2012. Gupta has a B.Tech degree from IIT, Delhi and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. 

Manish Singhal 

Manish Singhal is an alumnus of IIT, Kanpur and is the founding partner of pi Ventures, an early-stage venture fund that invests in companies that leverage AI, IoT, BlockChain. 

Through pi Ventures, he aims to help put India on the global deep tech map. He has more than 28 years of experience in building cutting edge deep technology products, mentoring startups, and investing in them.

Manish started pi Ventures in early 2016 with the vision of accelerating the development of AI startups in India.

Mayank Kumar 

Mayank Kumar is the co-founder and MD of upGrad, an edtech venture that targets working professionals.

Kumar holds a B.Tech from IIT Delhi and an MBA from the Indian School of Business. He has worked with global clients in the education sector before founding UpGrad with serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, Ronnie Screwvala in 2015. With upGrad, he aims to equip young professionals with new-age industry-relevant skills in partnerships with the industry and academia. Before UpGrad, Mayank was VP of Education at Bertelsmann, where he took care of the education strategy and its multi-million dollar investments in India.

Pankaj Rai

Pankaj Rai is the Senior Vice President of Strategy at Wells Fargo. He has more than 25 years of experience in diverse sectors including financial services and offshoring. 

He started off as a management consultant at Feedback Ventures in Delhi and went on to work at ICICI, GE Capital, Standard Chartered Bank and Dell.  At Wells Fargo, the IIT Delhi alumnus enables strategic projects leveraging his experience in analytics, strategic planning, risk management, 6 Sigma and operations & technology.

Prashant Warier

Prashant Warier is the co-founder & CEO of Qure.ai. He graduated from IIT, Delhi in 2001 and later did his MS and PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Through Qure.ai, he aims to make healthcare accessible and affordable using deep learning. The company uses deep learning to interpret CT Scans, X-Rays and MRIs and create automated diagnostic reports to help radiologists make faster and more accurate decisions in developed countries and provide automated radiology support to physicians in rural areas, where radiologists are few and far between. 

Rajeev Rastogi  

Rajeev Rastogi is the Vice President of Machine Learning at Amazon. He graduated from IIT, Bombay in 1988. He received his Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Texas.

In 1999, he became the director of the Internet Management Research Department and in 2003, a Bell Labs fellow. He has more than 200 peer-reviewed articles with the CURE: An Efficient Clustering Algorithm for Large Databases which has received over 3,100 citations since 1998.

Ramesh Hariharan

Ramesh Hariharan is the CEO at Strand Life Sciences and is currently working on the use of genomics to diagnose and treat patients with rare diseases and cancer. He graduated from IIT, Delhi in 1990 and went on to do PhD in computer science from New York University. 

He founded a startup called Picopeta Simputers and had also worked as an associate professor with the Indian Institute of Science.

Sachin Jaiswal 

Sachin Jaiswal is the co-founder & CEO of Niki, a startup that, in  Jaiswal’s words, is building a full-stack Ramu Kaka. “While internet economy 1.0 was built for a DIY world, Bharat is used to a Do-It-For-Me culture. Our technology, operations and the team – everything is aligned to service this latent need and be a witness to the unlocking of Internet Economy 2.0,” reads the Linkedin bio of this IIT, Kharagpur alumnus.  

Seby Kallarakkal 

Seby Kallarakkal is the CEO of Nabler, a Bengaluru-based digital analytics company. The startup has partnered with many brands and agencies to make smarter decisions using data. 

“Through these interactions, I’ve realised that for analytics teams to help data-driven businesses, there are two things that are of absolute importance – repeatability of analyses and knowing customer’s hero metric. Which is why, at Nabler, we are building products and solutions that are repeatable in nature; and are baked with the success metrics that matter to our customers,” he said.

Shailesh Kumar

“We are living in very interesting times – the era of digital connectivity, AI, Internet, Cloud, and devices. The opportunity of using all these to transform education, agriculture, healthcare, and safety & security is enormous,” said Shailesh Kumar, Chief Data Scientist, CoE AI/ML at Jio. 

Kumar graduated from IIT Varanasi in 1995 and completed his Masters and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. His areas of expertise include AI, ML, Reinforcement Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Understanding, Knowledge Graphs, Computer Vision,  Speech Processing, Bioinformatics, Information Theory, Signal Processing, Graph Theory, among others. 

Shub Bhowmick

Shub Bhowmick is the co-founder and CEO of Tredence, a data science and AI engineering company focused on solving the last mile problem in analytics.

Bhowmick completed his B-Tech in chemical engineering in 1996 from IIT Varanasi and went on to do MBA from Northwestern University Kellogg School Of Management. He had worked with various organisations including Liberty Advisor Group, Diamond Management & Tech Consultants, Mu Sigma, Infosys etc. 

Sourabh Gupta

Sourabh Gupta’s entrepreneurial journey began with the launch of Vernacular AI in 2016. Through the startup’s AI-based voice assistant, this IIT Roorkee graduate is aiming to transform customer interactions. The Bengaluru-based company provides voice AI or automation solutions to enterprises across various industries such as financial services, hospitality, food and beverages, among others. 

Srikanth Velamakanni 

As co-founder and Group Chief Executive & Vice-Chairman at Fractal Analytics, Srikanth Velamakanni aspires to leverage AI to power every human decision in enterprises. An alumnus of IIT, Delhi, Velamakanni has been a thought partner to global corporations that have embraced analytics to improve the quality and execution of their decisions. He believes in building a great place to work that attracts the best minds in the world and creating a trusting environment where people are respected and are free to do creative problem-solving.

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Shanthi S
Shanthi has been a feature writer for over a decade and has worked in several print and digital media companies. She specialises in writing company profiles, interviews and trends. Through her articles for the Analytics India Magazine, she aims to humanise tech in India. She is also a mom and her favourite pastime is playing a game of monopoly or watching Gilmore Girls with her daughter.

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