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Women Leading The AI Industry: Our field needs all kind of people participating and driving business solutions. With Amanda Berger and Tyler Gallagher

While I really admire people who focus on sciences and math in school, it’s not a requirement for success in the technology industry. There are many ways to be part of exciting trends around AI and big data without an engineering background. Our field needs all kind of people participating and driving business solutions around […]


While I really admire people who focus on sciences and math in school, it’s not a requirement for success in the technology industry. There are many ways to be part of exciting trends around AI and big data without an engineering background. Our field needs all kind of people participating and driving business solutions around this kind of technology.

As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Berger. Amanda’s commitment to business results drives each aspect of her work as Chief Customer Officer at Lucidworks. Leading a team of innovators and experts in the Customer Success, Professional Services, and Support organizations, her goal is to ensure that every customer optimizes the business impact of Lucidworks AI-powered search and analytics deployments. Amanda delivers true partnership as she works with Lucidworks customers to optimize the impact of technology innovation and accelerate business results. She holds a degree in Philosophy from Occidental College and is based in San Francisco.


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?

I took Artificial Intelligence courses in college as a philosophy major in the 90s. These classes were around a man vs. the machine theme. Back then I was a philosophy student by day, sorority girl by night and never dreamt that AI would be something I thought about daily. Once I graduated college I ended up in management consulting which evolved into software consulting which evolved into Big Data and AI. As it turns out, the philosophical questions around AI are still relevant, but it’s not all science fiction anymore — it’s about how we can approach people’s problems and help them solve them as efficiently as possible.

What lessons can others learn from your story?

While I really admire people who focus on sciences and math in school, it’s not a requirement for success in the technology industry. There are many ways to be part of exciting trends around AI and big data without an engineering background. Our field needs all kind of people participating and driving business solutions around this kind of technology.

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

At Lucidworks we are in the process of launching a Customer Excellence Program — a full life cycle methodology that will help ensure our customers achieve exceptional business outcomes using our search solutions. It’s been so rewarding to look through the hundreds of search projects we’ve helped with and determine the best practices across the team and industry, and find ways to package them up and make them easy for all of our customers to follow along with.

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?

I am so lucky and honored to have a team of amazing professionals who have travelled with me from company to company. When I joined Lucidworks six months ago one of the best things about it was that it would be such a great technology fit for so many of the wonderful people I’ve worked with on my own journey. The team of people I’ve brought with me, about eight in total right now, represent some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. I would never be able to have achieved what I have, nor will be able able to achieve what we are planning to achieve, without them coming along for the ride.

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

  1. AI in predictive merchandising.
  2. Visual search.
  3. AI that helps make tedious parts of people’s jobs easier; the type of reliable automation that simplifies your day job, but doesn’t replace it.
  4. AI is still really simple right now, I’m excited to see it go much further. At this point people could say big data and AI and it would mean the same thing.
  5. Excited for AI-powered tools to be truly personal and not just based on segments.

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

  1. It’s kind of creepy. It suspects when you are pregnant, dieting, etc.
  2. It is a buzzword, and an ill-defined one at that; everyone can say that they are in it but it’s hard to determine who really is.
  3. It can make the personal impersonal; whenever I send LinkedIn messages I’m really aware that AI is actually writing the response and it’s not always true sentiment.
  4. It’s not always right. For example, visual merchandising is pretty complicated; if I can’t always look at a picture and know if it is lace or velvet, AI cannot either.
  5. Loss of jobs that we should not lose.

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?

There’s a lot of responsibility that companies take on when they’re developing advanced technologies, especially ones that can use sensitive personal information to make decisions. Thorough testing and understanding of an AI-powered tool (similar to how we thoroughly test medications) and implementing them responsibly will be a key sticking point for successful future deployments.

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?

The AI field is booming right now. We need to continue bringing in diverse voices and minds to ensure AI’s application is both innovative and responsible.

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

I have given people jobs and helped them live the lives they want to lead. I’ve helped people move countries, achieve their career goals and obtain self confidence through career success.

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?

AI can seem overwhelming and scary, but it’s just another version of allowing data to help the world become more efficient. There are all sorts of practical applications of it that are interesting and fun. Pick the business problems you are interested in solving and not the algorithms you want to write.

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

The same thing that’s needed to engage more women in all of technology — first we need to realize that technology doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it is here to solve business problems. Second, business problems are just people problems — if we think about them empathetically often we know the answers intuitively. The more we recognize AI as a path to make lives more efficient, work more meaningful, and answers more fruitful, the more meaningfully we can engage women, some of whom perhaps find technology or terms like AI to be inaccessible.

Also — we need programs to get women into tech. For every open position we have we should be interviewing at least one woman. We also need to be truly thoughtful about work life balance as it pertains to childcare and maternity leave and we need to support each other.

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

As cliche as it may seem, I have always loved the quote “life’s a journey not a destination”. I’ve always been happiest when life moves fast; stagnancy really brings me down. When I was growing up careers like mine didn’t exist — the industry I am in didn’t exist, the internet didn’t even exist. Women and moms really didn’t get to have careers like the one that I am so blessed to have today. I could not have predicted I would be here. We can plan for the things we want in life but the actual realization of those dreams evolves as the world evolves and as we learn more about what we can contribute.

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. 🙂

I was also asked this recently for another article and I’ll stand by my answer — we need programs to support families as they go through fertility treatments while working. So many of us have done this and it’s a huge secret struggle, which isn’t fair or helpful. The things that make women unique are also the things that make them strong and valuable and we should support, not stifle.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m at LinkedIn under Amanda Berger Rosen.

Thank you for joining us!

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