Behind the Code: Meet Zia Mohammad
As a product manager on IBM’s Watson Platform team, Zia Mohammad oversees Natural Language Understanding offerings such as Language Translator and Tone Analyzer. Zia also teaches at IBM’s Product Management Bootcamp. We talked to him about why he chose to work in AI, where he sees the field going in 2020, and what other tech trends he anticipates in the coming decade.
Tell us about your background and why you decided to pursue a career in tech.
Growing up in the Midwest as a child of immigrants, I was exposed to a collection of perspectives. Although there was a level of dichotomy between the two, interwoven throughout was technology and the pursuit of advancement.
My journey into tech stemmed from the desire to solve problems that could change the world. With the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), I wanted to participate in work that could impact individuals no matter where they were located.
What is your current role at IBM? What are some of your responsibilities?
After graduating from The Ohio State University with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience, I took a product management role here at IBM Watson.
In my current role, I work as part of the Watson Platform team, where I own IBM Watson Language Translator, Tone Analyzer, and some core foundational AI microservices. Being in product management allows me to blend engineering, design, and business to deliver great products where user experiences matter.
Outside of my core role, I help teach the IBM PM Bootcamp and contribute to IBM’s patent portfolio by working on patents.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to enter the industry?
Be passionate. Be passionate about the things that make you happy and you will never work a day in your life. The technology space, especially software, moves at speeds where within a month, your entire industry can be disrupted by a small startup. As more individuals become familiar with technology it will be integral to think outside the box and bring fresh perspectives to old problems. Your passion combined with basic analytical thinking will allow you to differentiate yourself from others and drive you to continuously learn.
What are your passions outside of your role?
From gardening to globetrotting, I have a passion for exploring the outdoors. I’ve recently embarked on a mission to visit at least 3 new countries every year. For 2020 I hope to visit Singapore, South Korea, and Turkey.
What tech trends do you see for 2020?
Industry adoption of AI technologies has finally started to mature. As companies continue to embrace conversational AI, and globalization brings the world closer together, AI use cases expand to include sentiment analysis, speech interaction, and multilingual communication.
What tech trends do you see emerging this decade?
Revitalization of transportation. In the past 10 years we’ve seen the rise of SpaceX, Hyperloop, and new automotive companies. As industries shift their vision to renewable energy and new forms of transport, travel will be redefined. With the return of humans to the moon, we might even be privileged to see strides towards space tourism.