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Deloitte Women in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Diversity of perspective is critical for effective AI

We are the women in AI—the women who are at the forefront of transformation. We look at challenges from a different angle, drive innovation with impact, and are passionate about AI that champions diversity and fairness. We are the women in AI—but we represent only 26% of data and AI positions in the workforce1. There should be more of us. If you are in AI today, let us help you grow. If not, come and join us.

An introduction from Beena Ammanath and Costi Perricos

Thank you for joining us in broadening awareness of the consequences caused by the underrepresentation of women in AI. There are two important messages that we are attempting to voice through this effort.

First, we are seeing a surging demand for AI talent. However, at least one talent pool that could help businesses achieve their AI ambitions has remained largely untapped—women!

This brings us to the second message. Unlocking the potential of women to close the AI talent gap can also help us fix one of the greatest shortcomings of AI. In order to build an effective AI system—including defining a problem for AI to solve, designing a solution, selecting and preparing the data inputs, and constructing and training the algorithms—an AI team should be as diverse as the populations that its AI will impact.2 A more diverse workforce is better equipped to identify and remove AI biases as it interprets data and test solutions, and makes decisions.

On this page, you will find videos and short profiles that tell you about the exceptional work of women in the field of AI at Deloitte. It has been thrilling to hear of their passions for AI, their journeys into the world of AI, and their views on the role of women in this area. Regardless of how different their paths are, they all share one common belief: Diversity, both in terms of gender and demographics, is especially important in the AI field. Addressing this important concern and inspiring more women to enter the field of AI and to remain in it is one of our central commitments at Deloitte.

I’m particularly passionate about paving the way for AI that is for everyone, regardless of gender, skin color, demographics, or other factors. The core of our success has always come from our people, with the diversity of thought in our team at Deloitte.” – Beena Ammanath, Executive Director, Deloitte Global AI Institute

It’s simple…AI is about humans working with machines. It’s about extending the possibilities of humankind, for humankind. It’s like the right to vote. Why would women have little to no say in electing AI that’s meant to represent them?” – Costi Perricos, Deloitte Global AI & Data Offering Leader

AI in many ways benefits from the diversity of the people who develop and promote it. We invite you to watch the videos and read the profiles below to learn more about the topic and about our women in AI at Deloitte. AI can be for nearly everyone. We hope the stories will spark your enthusiasm, and maybe one day you will be one of the next AI front-runners with us at Deloitte.

Beena Ammanath - Executive Director, Global Deloitte AI Institute

Costi Perricos - Deloitte Global AI & Data Offering Leader

Meet Catherine Stretton who holds two roles within the firm, namely: Chief Digital Innovator, and Cognitive Advantage Leader. The two roles are slightly different yet complement each other. In her role as a Chief Digital Innovator, she is tasked with the responsibility to transform delivering services to the market and ensure that they are digitally enabled. This role also put Catherine on the forefront with client to go through digital transformation. As a leader of the cognitive advantage team, she works with a team of full stack developers and machine learning specialists to build innovative products and solutions to solve clients most exciting opportunities and pressing problems. Both her roles are essential for the firm to be successful in the market and to be successful as digital leader in the professional services space.

Catherine loves being technical and that keeps her young and current on how digital technology is revolving and how to use it. Her roles drive her to continuously learn, be creative, be involved in “making things”, creating new ways of working and interacting with clients. These roles are a channel for her inherent creativity that enables her to imagine and dare new things. Like a machine learning algorithm, Catherine can see patterns, she can connect the dots and that is her superpower. Seeing how different things connect to each other and how innovation in one area can be applied in a completely different area is what Catherine sees as her strength, seeing the transposable power of innovation. Catherine does not believe that being a woman is some kind of an impediment to fulfilling a career in AI, she believes that women in AI need to think without boundaries, lead and be part of a movement toward enabling companies with AI. She believes that “You can do what you want; whatever you imagine is possible”. AI is exciting and constantly evolving, and adventure is what you will encounter in this field.

Meet Jania Okwechime, a Partner in Risk Advisory – West Africa and leads teams in Nigeria and Ghana. Three years ago, in 2019, Jania joined Deloitte to build the Data Analytics team. She started with one team member and has since grown the team to its current group of 10 members. An enthusiastic and passionate team is what drives Jania daily. She takes pleasure and always looks forward to mentoring a team of individuals in problem solving and in so doing making an impact together. Coffee in her hand, good jazzy music, and a few minutes to herself is how she starts her day in the office. Creating an environment where everyone is motivated and interacts with each other is what Jania aims to create for her team.

During the time that Jania has been with Deloitte she has built relationships with partners, directors, and managers within the firm while taking to the market offerings in Tax, Auditing and Data Analytics. She has been complemented on her ability to deliver a believable and enjoyable presentation. The greatest most heartwarming feedback she has received is how people feel encouraged and comforted by her empathy, and her ultimate passion – inspiring others. Jania believes in confidence and passion, she encourages women in AI to not be afraid to speak their minds – “If you do not ask the answer will always be a no, whereas if you ask there is always the possibility of a YES”. If you believe in something, gather courage, and ask or better still, explore it.

Meet Vanessa Saker, the Senior Manager in the Risk Advisory Digital Team. Vanessa loves challenges and solving problems, figuring things out is one thing she is passionate about. Her friends and family play a role in her passion, and that is what drives her. Vanessa is a helper – a helpful person, which she believes is her purpose in life because that is how she brings together her problem-solving skills and helps people team together for a common good and outcome. Working within a diverse team that is driven by a single passion is what she loves about her job. Deloitte has 175 years of history in the Audit industry, but is still very new in the AI industry, which gives Vanessa a great platform to do what she most enjoys.

Vanessa doesn’t believe that she is doing anything better than others, but that she has an improved superpower when it comes to people management and calmness. How well she gets to work with people is her greatest strength. She also believes that one cannot fail at being oneself, if there is anything you can do well it is being yourself. Her advice to women in AI is: “… society will tell you where you are below and what you should be doing, ignore the voices, just be yourself”. Do what you need to do in your time, be authentic.

1 World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2020

2 Ronit Avni and Rana el Kaliouby, Here’s why AI needs a more diverse workforce , World Economic Forum, September 21, 2020.