Sometimes we forget the humans behind the tech in our ever busy world. DSF is fortunate enough to know some incredible tech leaders across the world and has the privilege of hearing them present at our events. That being said, our Speaker Spotlight sets the stage to get to know our speakers on a more personal level and connect them with our growing community. Read the mini interview below!

A bit about Rutuja: 

Rutuja Pawar combines a deep foundation in Computer Science enriched with a specialization in Data Science through her Masters. Her experience in technology, strategy and consulting is broad, spanning years of collaboration with diverse teams across IT and Business. Currently working as a Consultant at Accenture, on client-side she excels as a Scrum Master, where she plays a pivotal role in leading and facilitating different GenAI projects in commercial taxes at their Innovation Lab in Germany. Beyond her primary role, Rutuja wears many hats – she’s a mentor, a Design Thinking Coach, a Tech Trainer, a #IAmRemarkable Facilitator, and a skilled Public Speaker. Her diverse skill set not only showcases her expertise but also her passion for empowering others and making complex concepts accessible to all.

How did you start out in your tech career?

My first introduction to the world of computers and programming was when I was in the fourth grade. I can still remember our school had just started the fancy computer club and we were taught Logo as our first programming language. And if you know about it, then you will remember the iconic turtle programmed to create graphics on the screen :). Thanks to the supportive learning environment, I used to always enjoy and look forward to these sessions. This early encounter in my childhood got me intrigued about the world of computers and being a 90s kid I can assure you that I have witnessed a remarkable evolution in computer technology over the decades.

Fast forward, I completed my undergrad in Computer Science back in India and then started working as a Technology Consultant. I quickly realized as a Consultant you need to wear many hats, work across domains, and take up different roles, but at the same time, you get to explore and learn a lot. I mainly worked with clients in the Investment Banking domain taking up various roles in application development, business analysis, solution designing with an agile-scrum setup.

At the back of my mind, I always knew that I would like to do my Masters after working for a few years. This is what brought me to Germany to specialize in the field of Data Science. Knowing the advantages of the consulting industry, after my postgrad I continued as a Technology Consultant here, working with clients in the Postal & Logistics domain with Data Analytics, Visualization, UX and now currently working with clients as part of their commercial taxes Innovation Lab as a Scrum Master for their GenAI projects.

Reflecting on my experience, I do feel that there is never a dull moment in Technology. With the ever-evolving tech landscape you always have something new to explore facilitating continuous learning and growth.

 

What are the signs of success in your field?

“Success is not about climbing the ladder; it’s about creating a bigger ladder – Indra Nooyi” 

And the way I see to achieve this is through continuous learning and having a growth mindset. As long as you continue to grow, empowering yourself and also others with your knowledge and expertise, you are already on your path to success.

What can you advise someone just starting out to be successful?

Having a healthy passion for your work and believing in yourself are the two key ingredients that you will be required to start with.

Here are my top three recommendations:

1. Invest in experiential learning or “learning by doing” – The tech space is huge but is kind enough to accommodate everyone. To effectively navigate this space you need to do your research and experiment with different things to find out what is which really interests you. Is it solution engineering, coding, data analysis, UX, or a role overlapping different fields?

2. Build your interpersonal skills: When you venture into the tech world, it demands collaboration. You will often find yourself working in multicultural teams, with many stakeholders, requiring you to discuss & clarify different business requirements, present your work; and having strong communication skills here plays a key role. 

3. Putting yourself out there: I understand that this can sound daunting as a newbie in the tech field, but I do believe that you grow when you strive to come out of your comfort zone. So sign up to volunteer at tech events, support NGOs in imparting tech skills, share your knowledge & experiences by writing articles, contribute to open-source projects, seek constructive feedback, and much more.

How do you switch off?

I do believe in having a healthy work-life balance which is crucial to maintain your calm and keep you energized to undertake new adventures. 

Taking time off to visit my family & friends, traveling, and exploring museums rich in art & history are the best ways for me to escape. 

Adding into my routine, practicing daily mindfulness and meditation, going to my Barre workouts, painting, going for a walk (or as they popularly say here “Spaziergang” ) are currently my ways to switch off.

Here are some ideas to get you inspired:

What are your top 5 predictions in tech for the next 5 years?

I would narrow down my predictions in tech to the domains GenAI, Data and Design,

1. More GenAI: The year 2023 was the world experimenting with the new buzz in town GenAI. But 2024 is the year that we talk about real business use cases, where GenAI can be leveraged and integrated into the workflow. This widespread adoption of GenAI will only grow exponentially paving the way to different use-cases that seemed far from reality before. Thinking in this direction here are some ideas: As we now use different GenAI chat agents for our different tasks, in the future, they all can communicate with each other and have a holistic view of a person with their preferences. This can further expand with each person having their avatars as assistants mimicking physical presence. The line between virtual and reality will slowly become blurred.

2. Responsible AI: As new use cases with GenAI will be discovered, so will the topic of Data Privacy & Ethics be more in focus and act as a cornerstone in the development process rather than an afterthought. This field will evolve continuously adding new laws and regulations with emerging new use-cases and demanding collaboration across borders. There will be a globally recognized legal framework, benchmarks, and assessments in place to certify a GenAI product, depending on how sensitively the data is handled.

3. Increased demand for Decision Intelligence: As the output of GenAI products relies heavily on the quality of data it is being trained on, the demand for domain experts who understand the data and are able to access the quality of the output will be on the rise. This will be crucial in minimizing hallucinations thus establishing reliability and trust in the product.

4. Inclusive Design: The coming years will see even more awareness on the topic of Accessibility. This will drive the growth in research and the introduction of new techniques for designing user experiences catering to all, becoming a mainstream practice and thus increasing accessibility across all products and services.

5. Well, my last prediction is a hope that should come true, More women speakers on the panel: Each time I attend or speak at tech events or conferences, I always feel that there are very few women speakers on the panel, and which needs to be changed for good. So to all the brilliant ladies who are reading this interview, I would highly encourage you to apply to speak at events or conferences. In this way, you can spread your knowledge and truly empower others by empowering yourself! And even if it is your first time, there are organizers like at the Data Science Festival who are always willing to help you! So why wait? DSF May Day is around the corner and submitting your talk here is just the right opportunity.

Watch Rutuja’s session at the Data Science Festival here.

Thank you to all our wonderful speakers for taking part in our Speaker Spotlight!

Want to become a DSF Speaker? Apply here!