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“It is upon those of us who are in the industry to proactively identify talent and encourage these individuals to think about and pursue a career in the AI industry.” with Ying Chen and Tyler Gallagher

Sometimes, all we need is someone who sees our potential better than ourselves and provide the encouragement to get started or making the connection with others. So it is upon those of us who are in the industry to proactively identify talent and encourage these individuals to think about and pursue a career in the […]


Sometimes, all we need is someone who sees our potential better than ourselves and provide the encouragement to get started or making the connection with others. So it is upon those of us who are in the industry to proactively identify talent and encourage these individuals to think about and pursue a career in the AI industry.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ying Chen, the Chief Product Officer at Luminoso. She leads product, design, and development to power the next generation of Luminoso’s software for turning unstructured text data into business-critical insights. Before joining Luminoso, Ying led Fortune 1000 organizations and VC-backed startups to deliver award-winning product solutions, most recently heading up global product marketing for platform technologies at Pegasystems.


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?

Becoming the Chief Product Officer for an AI company was not a direct path. The role of product management was emerging when I first got into it, and the AI industry was not as widely experienced or accessible as it is today.

I have always been fascinated with the role of technology in empowering what we can do as humans. Graduating at the height of the dot.com era and experiencing its subsequent downfall, I have learned that while technologies can be great, when you haven’t answered the question about what you are looking to accomplish, they are more harmful than helpful. So, I continued to pursue roles that enabled me to operate at the intersection of technology, business, and design, which I have found in product management. Each role enabled me to fill out a piece of the missing learning opportunity that ultimately helped me gain a more holistic view of what it means to be a “product manager.”

And as technologies like RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and AI became more prevalent, I realized that I wanted to contribute to developing responsible AI products that weren’t just about automation. I wanted to build AI products that improve how we can make better decisions, enable us to be more creative, and become better. That’s why I chose to join Luminoso, where we are building the next generation of AI tools that help organizations to intelligently listen at scale across different languages of feedback from their customers and employees, so they can make better products, improve service, and know what they can do to improve their employees’ experience.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

Don’t be deceived by how “continuous” my story may look. It is anything but! It was really hard to make the various pivots I’ve made, and I would be lying if I said I “knew” 100% of the time that I would succeed. Whether these pivots were related to different industries, different types of roles, or different types of products, each pivot did not get easier and I’ve fallen flat on my face several times and learned a lot in the process, either trying to get there or when I got there.

My advice, especially when it comes to tech industries including AI, is don’t be intimidated to go for the tryout. The world is a big place. You will find your fit. And keep pushing. You will feel uncomfortable at times and the task will feel impossible, but you will gain so much in the process.

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

Here are a couple projects that I’m enjoying working on right now:

1. AI is often thought of as a tool that does automation and replaces human work. Less talked about is how AI can help people do their work much more effectively. One product I’m working on in this area uses AI to help field technicians instantly gain the knowledge of their most experienced colleagues by being able to quickly search and find information about how to resolve problems without being a data scientist. The AI component of this product allows these field technicians to intuitively find the information that matters, enabling intelligent guidance at the point of their work.

2. Another product I’ve been working on, which recently launched, is called Score Drivers. The tool uses AI to analyze mixed datasets of qualitative and quantitative feedback to help businesses understand what’s working, and what’s not. For instance, Score Drivers can be used to help companies understand questions like, “What are the reasons that our NPS score is low?” by analyzing the scores themselves against open response feedback customers provide.

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?

There are certainly many that have enabled me to be where I am today, but I would single out Eric Larnard, who was a manager early on in my career when I made the pivot into product management.

What I appreciated was that as a manager, Eric balanced encouragement with constantly pushing me past my comfort zone. For instance, as someone who started on the tech side of product management, having done customer software development for years prior, I spent a lot of time working with software engineers and customers to build the software itself. I didn’t spend as much time with sales and marketing. He constantly pushed me to get to know other critical stakeholders to the process so that I could have a more rounded view as a product manager and get away from “just to build it” to “what we should build” and “what is the value” of what we would create.

Eric was also an amazing “insider” that taught me a different perspective when it came to advocating for my worth on compensation and role. He saw that I fell into the traditional mindset that my value should be assigned by others and that I should be thankful for what is given to me vs. what I am worth. To this day, I pass on the lesson he taught me to other women who I work with and mentor, in hopes that it will play a role in closing the compensation gap we still see in the tech industry.

What are the 3 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why?

There are three related things that excite me most about the AI industry:

1. I love how AI can help businesses truly understand what’s going on through conversations. Humans simply don’t have the capacity to understand thousands, let alone millions of pieces of customer or employee feedback. AI can not only play a role in helping to analyze feedback, but to convey the most relevant points in a way that business leaders can easily understand and act on.

2. AI can help people do their jobs better than they ever could have otherwise. If you have more relevant information and insights, it allows you to do your job better. As an example, if you’ve just released a new shoe into the market, and receive thousands of pieces of feedback on that shoe, AI can quickly help you identify what people do and don’t like about the shoe. When you have this information at your fingertips, it helps you be more effective in either altering the design of the shoe currently on the market, or coming up with a compelling design for your next shoe.

3. AI has the potential to help people be more creative. Here, I mean more than AI helping people write funny jokes or paint pictures, which AI can certainly do. When AI helps you uncover problems or challenges that you may have never known existed, it in turn helps spark creative ideas for solving these problems.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?

1. One of my biggest concerns is around data bias. If you’re not careful with the data you’re using to train your AI models, you will have real issues around bias. For example, researchers at Google set loose their machine learning on Google News as its corpus. The resulting model revealed gender biases and made analogies such as man is to computer programmer as woman is a homemaker.

2. As businesses increasingly use AI, it becomes ever more important that businesses and AI vendors work to maintain the integrity of the needs of customers, as well as to secure their data.

3. I worry that too many businesses are using AI for the sake of using AI. AI does not replace a good question that is focused on what it is you are trying to accomplish. What is the vision you have for your business, your customers, or your stakeholders? These are the types of questions should be considered carefully before moving on to the question of how AI can help your business succeed. Too often, I see people lose sight of the goal they are trying to accomplish, and simply try to use an AI hammer to solve the problem.

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?

They’re both right to a degree, but I believe that the promise of AI outweighs the potential dangers.

AI can make many aspects of human life better, from advancing medical research to improving crisis response and helping businesses operate more effectively. Yes, there are dangers of AI being used for evil, but a fear of potentially inappropriate uses of AI shouldn’t stop us from advancing the technology in ways that can improve society.

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?

I would say there are things to be concerned about. People should be concerned when AI is being used in ways that they’re unfamiliar with, and affects them negatively. For instance, many people do not fully understand how the world’s most popular social media sites use AI to learn what makes people visit their sites frequently and stay on them for as long as possible. People know so little about what is AI and how the AI is used, I think there needs to be broader education about the topic in general.

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

As a first generation immigrant, I am very passionate about empowering immigrants and their families, especially in the area of education and citizenship.

I was fortunate to have been a part of a project to bring CDF (Children’s Defence Fund) Freedom School — a six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program designed to serve children and youth in grades K–12 in communities where quality academic enrichment programming is limited, too expensive, or non-existent — into my community in East Somerville Massachusetts, where there’s a large immigrant population and many kids qualified for reduced/free lunches.

There were so many stories but one that really struck me was a child who attended the program where his father was a window washer for many of the high rises in the Boston area and feared heights, but pushed himself working that and many other side jobs to put food on the table. The child had the opportunity to go on a field trip that we organized to visit the board room at Bain Capital. The program helped to give him the confidence to declare that someday, he’ll be in that board room as someone very important.

It is a constant reminder of the sacrifices and hardships of the immigrant experience because they simply want a better life for their children and themselves. And for that, I’ll continue to fight and support causes that will help all immigrants to have a voice and the right to have access to the educational resources that we all deserve.

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?

1. If this is something you’re passionate about, pursue your passion.

2. Be tough. You’re going to deal with a lot of setbacks, as well as people who judge you because of your gender. You have to be tough, and continue to push forward.

3. Create your own cheerleading committee, filled with people who support you. This can be colleagues, friends, and mentors. When you surround yourself with people who support you, you have that safetynet to remind you of just how amazing you are when things get tough.

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

Sometimes, all we need is someone who sees our potential better than ourselves and provide the encouragement to get started or making the connection with others. So it is upon those of us who are in the industry to proactively identify talent and encourage these individuals to think about and pursue a career in the AI industry.

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

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” — ― Norman Vincent Peale

Throughout my career, I’ve always aimed high. There have been many times where I’ve aimed high, but failed to achieve exactly what I’ve wanted to because I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, or I didn’t know the right people. Still, by always aiming high, I’ve had an extremely fulfilling career to-date, complete with many successes as well as setbacks.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The world faces so many challenges, but one area that I am most passionate about is ensuring that children around the world receive the best possible STEM education in elementary school. We can, and should, do more to ensure that all children — regardless of gender, race, or income status — get the STEM education they need to succeed in the 21st century business world. I’m also hopeful that continued advances in education technologies related to remote learning, augmented reality, and affordable hardware will play a role in offering better education for all.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yingchen42?lang=en.

You can also find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/yingchen42/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


About the Author:

Tyler Gallagher is the CEO and Founder of Regal Assets, a “Bitcoin IRA” company. Regal Assets is an international alternative assets firm with offices in the United States, Canada, London and United Arab Emirates focused on helping private and institutional wealth procure alternative assets for their investment portfolios. Regal Assets is an Inc. 500 company and has been featured in many publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Market Watch and Reuters. With offices in multiple countries, Regal Assets is uniquely positioned as an international leader in the alternative assets industry and was awarded the first ever crypto-commodities license by the DMCC in late 2017. Regal Assets is currently the only firm in the world that holds a license to legally buy and sell cryptos within the Middle East and works closely with the DMCC to help evolve and grow the understanding and application of blockchain technology. Prior to founding Regal Assets, Tyler worked for a Microsoft startup led by legendary tech giant Karl Jacob who was an executive at Microsoft, and an original Facebook board member.

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