Michèle 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.

What did you learn as you implemented AI?
During the first six months, I was in part-time mode: I was working 50% of the time as a branch director, and 50% in my new role as business leader at the Cognitive Factory. This allowed me to be at the same time an end-user of the first cognitive solutions and to start gathering the AI principles. At the end of this period, I was able to understand the specific vocabulary, the methods, the new ways of working and the different tools. Once my onboarding completed, I learned how to efficiently use my field experience and my domain expertise, to put them at the service of the construction and continuous improvement of cognitive solutions.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
I think that any company needs employees with different profiles, background and competencies. Women are often more attentive, have more communication skills and provide a different vision in AI. But I am convinced that a fair balance between men and women promotes creativity and innovation. The under-representation of women in AI, like the under-representation of ethnic minorities, for example, can have a significant social impact.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
You have to know how to get out of your comfort zone to give the best of yourself. And you have to have beliefs—then you have to go test them in the field, to verify if you are on the right track.

Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to share a quotation from Pierre-Georges Latécoère, the French aeronautics industry pioneer: “All the calculations show it cannot work. There is only one thing to do: make it work.”

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