Crayon’s Data and AI Services Practice, delivers world-class solutions through Centers of Excellence around the world. It has over 10 years of experience, more than 300 projects delivered, and around 150 data and AI experts that help customers efficiently navigate the world of Data and AI, always focusing on the problem and solution, not the technology.

Crayon’s AI-powered solutions can be used to optimize all aspects of a business because it helps them make more informed decisions, reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve customer satisfaction. Here, we interview Hilda Kosorus the Director of the Data & AI Centre of Excellence in EMEA at Crayon to tell us more about her role and approach to management.

Tell us about your day in the life at Crayon and your main responsibilities as the Director of the Data & AI Centre of Excellence in EMEA.

My day typically involves managing the team responsible for the delivery of Crayon’s Data & AI solutions. I work across the department to ensure that we’re all collaborating effectively, and involving the right experts at the right time, in the right place, to get the best results for our customers.

Our Crayon Data & AI practice has been around for the past ten years, and four years ago we established Crayon’s AI Centre of Excellence in EMEA. This involves four teams that each house a variety of skill sets and specialists who foster deep expertise in Decision Intelligence, Computer Vision, Language Technologies, and Data Platforms & Engineering.

I regularly collaborate with our sales team to ensure that we’re addressing our customers’ needs appropriately and partner with them to deliver impactful solutions for our customers. Many of our customers have already experimented with AI in some capacity and we help them on two fronts, first, we help navigate the complex landscape of available technologies to ensure they are using the right one(s), and second, we make sure we focus on the right use cases to drive true business value and help them deliver solutions end to end, from experiment to production.

Strategy is another important area that is forever evolving, and our VP for Data & AI and I work on it collaboratively, so I’m able to give clear direction to my team. I am also responsible for hiring, upskilling, and developing the teams. We attract data scientists and engineers who like the variety of work, contributing to production solutions across many different industries.

Did you always want to pursue a career in tech, or did your interest develop later on?

I always wanted a career in tech, and I was interested in and good at mathematics.  I went to a technical high school focused on mathematics and computer science and continued to study those subjects at university.

I am fluent in four languages, as I had multilingual upbringing and studies in Hungarian, Romanian, German, and English. While I initially pursued an academic career, once I completed my Ph.D., I made the pivotal decision to transition to a data science role at a start-up, which was instrumental in shaping my career to where I am today.

How do you prepare for a workday filled with important meetings?

Preparation is key. I like to know what to expect in each meeting, blocking out time ahead to be sure I know what will be discussed, what are the desired outcomes, or next steps expected. I like to prioritise my meetings, ranking which ones are more critical and need my full attention. I also like to set meetings that are 45’ or 55’ rather than the full hour, giving me time to reset for the next. The last few minutes of the meeting I like to dedicate to the next steps. I like to know which ones I and my colleagues are responsible for and like to set expectations with the other attendees as to when they will be completed. If my diary is getting filled up on a particular day, I will block the rest of it out for some focus time.

What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy working with my team and seeing how each member grows and succeeds is very rewarding. We work as a strong team but am always conscious of the variety of personalities, skills, and dynamics we have and work to bring out the best in everyone.

Transitioning from being a coder to becoming a manager has been enjoyable as I can closely identify with the challenges they face. I love the mentoring aspect of the role, seeing individuals enhance their skills and build on their strengths. I am engaged not only in celebrating our teams’ milestones, achievements, and successes but how I can play a role in shaping a positive and productive culture in the Data & AI CoE.

Also, I find it fulfilling to be able to make and contribute to strategic decisions, setting goals, and making plans and decisions that align with Crayon’s overall objectives.

What is the most common misconception about your role?

Most customers don’t realise I’m the senior person in the room. I’m relatively young for a director role in very technical arena where women are typically under-represented.

What advice would you give to young women interested in pursuing a career in tech or STEM?

I would advise young women to seek guidance and mentorship from other successful women in the tech or STEM fields. Engaging with others who have navigated challenges and achieved success can provide valuable insights and motivation. It’s essential to lean into discomfort, regularly challenge yourself, and be courageous in an environment where you might feel less familiar. Embracing this approach can lead to personal and professional growth.

What are your thoughts on how AI will disrupt and drive innovation in business environments?

AI has an incredible potential to impact society, the economy, and businesses positively now more than ever given the potential that Generative AI has shown over the past eight months, with a phenomenal take up by individuals and organizations across the world. While its adoption may bring challenges due to privacy, security, and governance concerns, I believe that if organizations don’t embrace and adopt AI whatever line of business they are in, they may find themselves losing competitive advantage. Although legitimate concerns about job displacement exist, AI will also create new opportunities that were previously unimaginable and drive further innovation and adoption in various industries. 

What guidance do you offer to businesses regarding setting up appropriate IT infrastructure and service platforms to support data-led decision-making?

I advise businesses to seek help when setting up their IT infrastructure and services platforms for data-led decision-making. Attempting to do this complex task alone can be costly and may not yield optimal results. It’s critical to develop the right platform tailored to the specific use cases and seek assistance from experts in the field. By doing so, businesses can ensure they have the necessary foundation to leverage data effectively for decision-making which paves the way to achieve success in their AI initiatives.

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