Aishwarya Srinivasan’s Journey: A Data Scientist Striving for Social Impact
One wonders how far your determination and tenacity can take you? Well, it can take you as far as you think. Coming from a lower-middle-class family background, one would think that pursuing a higher education at an Ivy League university in the United States is impossible, but Aishwarya Srinivasan thinks not. She pushed herself to achieve what she had wanted from her college and her career.
Aishwarya completed her undergraduate studies in Computer Science at Vellore Institute of Technology. While in college, she recognized her passion for data science and machine learning. In order to gain industry exposure, she endeavored to pursue internships and eventually completed 10 internships with companies like Microsoft, TCS, and EY. She focused on pursuing her master’s degree in data science and started looking for opportunities abroad. She was accepted to Columbia University and got a scholarship to be a research assistant to a well-known professor.
In the summer of 2018, she began her internship with IBM’s Data Science Elite team. She built a stock trading model using reinforcement learning methodology which was well received. She could successfully file a patent to build a state-of-the-art model. Soon she started as a full-time Data Scientist. Aishwarya recalls, “It was an amazing experience working on the Data Science Elite team. My mentors believed in my ideas and abilities and presented me with opportunities to work with
customers all over the world. I traveled to London, Dubai, Mumbai and Istanbul for work. It was a real passion turned into a career.”
She mentions that what fuels her motivation is the idea of creating a social impact using her skills. She says, “I need to be aware of the impact AIsolution has on users and how ethical and sustainable it is. I think if I can use my skills to help even a small sector of society, that in itself will have a cumulative effect. .”
Aishwarya currently serves on the advisory board of two non-profit organizations: AI for Good Foundation and AI Education Project. She works to identify, prototype and scale solutions that drive positive change in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She also creates courses and educational sessions for high school students to explore a career in data science and engage in working on real-world problems.
She says she’s a firm believer in mentoring, “I can’t stress enough how important it is to have someone who believes in you, cheers you on for your accomplishments, and also becomes a critic when needed.” It was the motivation that led her to start a non-profit mentorship platform called Illuminate AI and helps students and early professionals get the mentorship needed to enter the data science and computing space. ‘IA.
As a woman in tech, she believes that to inspire women to pursue careers in STEM, we need to create a more inclusive workplace culture. Aishwarya is an ambassador for the Women in Data Science community, where she works to educate and uplift women in underprivileged sections of society.