March 29, 2019 | Written by: Mary Reisert
Categorized: Trends and Profiles
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To conclude Women’s History Month, we’re thrilled to bring you the last installment of our Women of Watson series. Meet Lakisha Hall: IBMer, wife, mother and passionate Howard University alum. Get to know this powerful woman on a more personal level.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’ve been an IBMer for over 20 years, but I am also a busy wife – of 8 years – to my husband Jason, and mom of a 5-year-old little boy named Jason Junior. (They never know who is in trouble when I call them). I am a proud graduate of Howard University, B.S. in Mathematics – HU, you know! & EMBA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville… GO VOLS!
I started my career as a developer and came to IBM through the PwC acquisition. I’ve had various roles in my career, from developer and IT consultant to managing large scale IT deployments, or transforming business & IT internally for IBM. In 2016, I moved to the World of Watson as a Technical Leader, and I am now the Director NA Delivery Data & AI Expert Labs & Learning.
How did you end up with a career in tech, and what lead you to IBM Watson?
Many moons ago when I was deciding on my undergraduate major, I was asked a very simple question: “What do you like to do?”
My answer? “Math.” Yes, I said math at 18 years old. I know, who does that? But that was my passion: it was not subjective, and I loved knowing my answers were correct! I turned that passion into opportunities to work at my school’s math and computer science labs during work study. Eventually, that turned into summertime opportunities at technology companies, and I was hooked. I ended up graduating with a minor in computer science and a double concentration in pure and applied mathematics and computer science.
While I was completing my EMBA, I was looking for my next challenge. I knew the characteristics of what I wanted that new role to be – on the cutting edge of technology, client facing, with an ability to make significant business impact. A mentor pointed me to a job opening at IBM Watson. I thought, how perfect is this? Not only did it fit every characteristic I was looking for in my next challenge, but it was in an area that was a strategic imperative for our company. Little did I know at that time, I was stepping into an incredible journey for my career, our company and our clients.
What is your elevator pitch for IBM Watson when you meet business executives from different industries?
AI is your partner of choice because of our leadership in the industry. You can trust us to protect your data. We allow you to bring transparency to how your AI is performing, and we support you along your AI journey.
We are the foremost leader in AI for the enterprise– whether it is predictive analytics and machine learning, machine learning data catalogs, or conversational computing platforms. However, we differentiate by not only being the leader, but also by protecting your data – you own your insights. With Watson Openscale, we help you to uncover bias and unmask the “black box” of AI. Through the AI ladder, we guide you through your AI journey from the beginning to collect and organize your data, and then infuse and analyze it to put AI to work. We can either do that for you, help you do it, or enable you to be self-sufficient with our team of Data and AI experts.
In honor of Women’s History Month, what advice do you have for young women looking to become leaders in the tech industry?
Be Authentic. You deserve to be in tech. We need you in tech. Your unique perspective will return dividends for years to come.
Be fearless. Take on that challenge you aren’t sure you are “good enough” for… you are! Explore the globe. Create the trends!
Never stop perfecting your craft. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Live as if you are going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you are going to live forever.” The world is changing at an incredible rate. Disruption is a way of life. So always be at the top of your craft, read something every day, be the expert. Ensure that you are not only attending the industry conferences aligned to your field, but that you are featured at them.
What do you see for the future of AI and IBM Watson?
The opportunity we have today is boundless. We are the leaders in this market, with the best skills in the industry. Our time is now. We will change the world. I predict that we will not only meet all targets for this year with the power of Data and AI – that we will exceed them. We will create Watson fanatics. We will be the #1 place to work for AI.
What can we expect next from you? Anything in 2019 coming up?
Transformation of Data and AI Delivery, Best of IBM, World Domination, nap – in that order.