Autumn Zschiesche of Ambyint: “Initial investment reservations”

It is reassuring to see more women each year in our industry. For those considering the industry: be confident, be assertive when needed, and don’t get intimidated. Lastly, always come prepared. As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Autumn Zschiesche. Autumn Zschiesche is […]

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It is reassuring to see more women each year in our industry. For those considering the industry: be confident, be assertive when needed, and don’t get intimidated. Lastly, always come prepared.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Autumn Zschiesche.

Autumn Zschiesche is currently a Senior Business Development Manager with Ambyint. She was brought in to help in the commercial launch of their Edge device.

Prior to joining Ambyint, she worked at Weatherford in roles as a Strategic Account Manager and more recently the US Software Sales Manager under the Production business unit. There she drove cross selling between artificial lift, automation, and software.

Autumn received her BBA from Baylor University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?

Technology has always interested me and it really started back while at Baylor. Growing up and living in one of the largest oil and gas markets, made this a great fit. My career has primarily been focused on enterprise software in the energy industry.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

I think some women might be hesitant or even avoid pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated industries, like technology and oil and gas. Thankfully, I have been welcomed into the oil and gas industry as a woman and have never felt out of place. I encourage women to pursue their passions and focus on the contributions they bring to the table that will add value.

Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Recently, a customer came to us with a desire to utilize our production optimization software technology but needed us to tie into their current system versus replacing everything with new. We challenged our team to develop an out-of-the-box solution that would allow our value-added technology to work concurrently with their system already in place. At Ambyint, we know that there will not always be an off-the-shelf solution to fit each customer’s needs perfectly, so we strive to remain nimble in order to provide opportunities for our customers to become more efficient and generate incremental cash flow. It is exciting to be part of a technology company that can make a real difference in the operating state of our customers.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Thank you and yes, Dave Betty, who initially hired me at Paradigm and rehired me a few times later in my career. He has always been an advocate and ensured I had the support and tools necessary to succeed. He had hired plenty of traditional candidates with the relevant degrees and background, however some lacked skills on the commercial front. Due to their lack of success he decided to make strong commercial and business development skills the top criteria, relying on them to learn the industry and products. I appreciated how open he was to a “non-traditional” candidate and the encouragement he consistently provided, stressing that I had the right skills to get the job done. One of my best hires came from a pharmaceutical sales background, with little knowledge of the industry, however her sales skills and determination led to high performance.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why?

  1. Access — visibility to data that was previously unknown or assumed.
  2. Machines — advancing our jobs and freeing the workforce to focus on the things that they are more passionate about.
  3. Converting a “traditional” mindset — educating a workforce that has traditionally gone by a “gut feel” vs tangible data.
  4. Singular truth — encouraging companies to utilize actual data to make important business decisions versus a debate among individuals about what they think happened.
  5. Endless possibilities — The oil and gas market has an abundance of opportunity to embrace digital enhancement and tools like AI when compared to other industries such as pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. Educating the market on what value these tools can bring is an exciting endeavor.

What are the 5 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

  1. Tribal mentality/change management — Organizations, admittedly with less frequency, still say “this is the way we have always done things.” New technology is available that can add significant value to current operations and my hope is that they keep an open mind as they learn more.
  2. Company culture — Many organizations work very siloed. With the amount of data that can now be garnered, departments across an organization can benefit. Collaboration will be key to maximizing the potential.
  3. Analysis by paralysis — Too much data can be overwhelming to the point the value is not realized. By focusing on narrower parameters initially, an organization can get more comfortable with embracing key takeaways — focus on the macro first — then the micro.
  4. Initial investment reservations — There is an upfront cost in collecting data — a combination typically between hardware and software. There is also a time commitment if an organization does not have quality historical data. However, making the commitment to invest early has a multiplier on ROI in the long run.
  5. Analyzing results quantitatively — not anecdotally. Focus on the bigger results — data doesn’t lie. Benchmark your starting point with key metrics. This is your starting point. Introduce the data from your AI tools and note the business decisions made due to the data. Analyze the finish line. Look at the delta for ROI.

As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?

Computers don’t have sick days, holidays etc. They are reliable and read a singular truth with no bias. The only question to ask is . . .how are you planning to use the data for a positive outcome or not?

What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?

Education about how organizations use this data is an important step. Actual versus theoretical should be the theme.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I am a natural connector and as my career has grown my goal is sharing my experiences and insights with career aspiring individuals. Being in a leading technology space of AI means naturally people are looking to connect. I am proud of the fact that somehow, despite being fairly busy, I find time to share my experiences and on occasion positively influence thinking in our industry. Giving back and helping to drive change is a big part of my story.

As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the AI space to thrive?
It is reassuring to see more women each year in our industry. For those considering the industry: be confident, be assertive when needed, and don’t get intimidated. Lastly, always come prepared.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?

Writing articles like this highlighting how other women are succeeding is a good start. Many of us are having very positive experiences and successful careers that should be shared.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”- Muriel Strode

There have been times over my career where uncertainty about the path forward occurred. What I have learned is to not fear the unknown and by embracing uncertainty it can lead to tremendous opportunity. Nothing changes, if nothing changes. I would encourage everyone to buckle up, enjoy the ride, and make each and every opportunity for change count.

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