Women Leaders in AI

By | 3 minute read | May 6, 2020

“Success must include two things: the development of an individual to his utmost potentiality and a contribution of some kind to one’s world.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Throughout history, across countries, industries, and professions, women trailblazers have opened the door for millions of other women to step through. These trailblazers have created an environment where more and more women can continue to push forward and open more doors. To keep this momentum, we have to share these stories, which is why, today, we are honoring more than 30 amazing female pioneers who are opening doors and shaping the future of AI.

Our 2020 Women Leaders in AI honorees work in the industries of telecommunications, finance, education, energy, media, and more, and represent 12 different countries. These women—these trailblazers—are reshaping how their organization operates.

Take Kristen Bennie of British bank NatWest Group, for example. She has been instrumental in the bank’s adoption of AI to not only enhance operations but fuel learning and innovation for its customers and staff. Examples include “Cora,” the bank’s first AI-enabled chatbot, which is now scaled across the digital estate, supporting more than 5,000 conversations and successfully handling 160,000 questions a week; “Ask Archie,” the award-winning Watson Assistant virtual agent that last year answered more than 500,000 worker queries about HR, technology and other company matters; and groundbreaking work in zero-user interface applications.

Michèle Brengou is the business leader of Crédit Mutuel’s “Cognitive Factory,” a team of more than 100 people in charge of implementing AI at scale in one of France’s largest banks. She has actively contributed to the launch of 15 successful cognitive solutions at Crédit Mutuel, leveraging IBM Watson technology to better serve 20,000 advisors and 12 million customers. One of those AI projects is an email analyzer that helps the bank manage the 350,000 emails that its branches receive every day, detecting customer intent with more than 80% accuracy.

Susanna Shen’s leadership at Hong Kong & China Gas Ltd. (Towngas) resulted in the deployment of a Watson Assistant-based chatbot named “Tinny.” This virtual assistant handles 10% of general inquiries received across channels including the company website, mobile app and WeChat. General inquiries represent 20% of total daily customer inquiries. Tinny provides text-based responses in English and Chinese, including colloquial Cantonese, with an 80% accuracy rate and performs well on surveys with an average 7 out of 10, including reduction in call abandonment rates to 1% in 2019 from 3% in 2018.

These are only three of this year’s honorees. However, each of these women trailblazers are responsible for leading at least one AI project in their business that is delivering powerful results. Their leadership not only pushes their individual companies forward, but the AI field as a whole, reflecting the ways AI can be used to shape the future and revolutionize how we live and work.

With our Women Leaders in AI initiative, we hope to inspire other women to join the industry, and have students and women entering the workforce hear their stories and see the possibilities. The more diverse the voices, the better the outcome will be for everyone as AI plays an ever-increasing role in virtually every aspect of our lives. I am sure this year’s Women Leaders in AI could think of no better outcome. And that is truly the best way we can honor them.

View the full list of this year’s honorees and help us celebrate the latest class of AI trailblazers, and encourage the next generation of women leaders in AI.

And hear Ritika Gunnar, Vice President of IBM Data and AI, describe her journey in the fascinating field of AI and share why curiosity, diversity and support systems are essential to advancing this transformative technology.

Follow us on Twitter at @IBMWatson for live social updates.