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“One of the big things that I’ve learned during my journey at Deloitte is never to be shy, to really think outside of the box,” says Reny Vargis-Cheriyan. And it was indeed an outside-the-box idea for a project that sparked Reny’s curiosity and steered her into the wonderful world of AI.
Reny recalls: “About five years ago, I started getting involved in the use of AI in voice. And that’s why, today, I am the global lead for a voice analytics solution.”
The idea came to her when she was engaged in a project where financial advice was given to customers over the phone. “They had this entire team of people that were just manually listening to these calls to make sure that they were saying the right things,” she recalls. And that’s when she thought: “Wouldn't it be amazing if we had a technology that could just replace what seemed like a very standard task?”
“So we developed an analytics solution that analyses what humans say in an interaction,” Reny says. “But not only do we analyse what’s being said. We also analyse how it’s being said. So, we learn a lot about the behavioural indicators.” Reny sees this as a real differentiator and as a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of behavioural patterns in our speech and the effects they are having on others. She is proud of the fact that it was developed solely by her team, which has been working on it for five years.
Reny, who has been with Deloitte for 16 years, is a partner in the risk analytics team in the United Kingdom. With her background in aerospace engineering, she helps clients use data and analytics to get the most out of what they want to achieve for their customers.
Lately, she has been focussing on integrating AI ethics and risk models into AI voice applications and the other software her team develops. Reny says, “There could be a risk that these models are trained in a way that (they) could be biased for certain groups or certain genders, or certain demographics. I am happy for people to disagree with me, but as a female, I do feel that I have a duty not only to myself, but to different demographics globally, to make sure that these models are trained in a way that it’s not going to be a detriment to anyone.”
Reny is enthusiastic about her work. “The part that I love about my role is the team, the people that I work with and the caliber of individuals,” she says. “And the impact and the value that we deliver to our clients is what keeps us going.”
She strongly encourages women to become part of the AI team and is looking forwards to seeing some brilliant recruits coming up through the pipeline. Her advice is: “Don't be scared, be bold, be very inquisitive and always try to think outside the box—don't ever be bound by thinking you have to follow a particular process.”