Roushanak is an AI research scientist at Elekta, a world learning medical tech company.

Prior to joining this industrial research, she was working at the Institute of Cancer Research, Cambridge Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, and St. Andrews University.

She obtained her PhD in AI at the school of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering at Heriot-Watt University in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.

Her research interests are in the fields of medical image analysis and computer vision, where she is developing novel algorithms and models in deep learning to improve healthcare. These structured models allow to model uncertainty and diversity, which enables novel applications of deep learning from personalization of products and therapies to decision making under uncertainty. She believes AI would revolutionize healthcare and personalize medical treatment in the near future.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

It can be helpful to sit down and plan your career, as it can give you a sense of direction and purpose and help you make informed decisions about your professional path. Planning your career can involve setting goals, researching and exploring different career options, and identifying the skills and experiences you need to achieve your goals.

For me, since I was in high school, I planned and worked hard to obtain my PhD from a prestigious university in the fields of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering. I had the vision to learn the latest technology from the academic pioneers in the field and be able to implement my knowledge into real world applications.

That being said, it is important to recognize that my career path may not always go exactly as planned, because of the limited perspectives and knowledge of my abilities and possible opportunities at the time and it is okay to adjust the plans as you learn and grow. Earlier in my career journey, I did not know much about AI as it was not as trendy as it is nowadays, but I knew it is also important to be flexible and open to new opportunities as they arise, and to be willing to adapt and learn new skills as your career progresses.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Facing career challenges can be a normal and common part of professional development. I have been focusing challenges in my field, AI and computer vision, every time I was working on a new project.

There are a few strategies that helped me in facing and overcoming these career challenges:

  1. Acknowledge the challenge
  2. Set specific goals
  3. Be open to learning and growth by staying up-to-date on developments in the field and adapt the changes needed
  4. Develop specialized skills and expertise
  5. Seek guidance and support, find mentors and develop networking opportunities
  6. Stay positive and persistent

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

One of my biggest career achievements to date is obtaining my PhD which helped me to learn about computer vision, deliver several complex projects on my own, build a strong network with good reputation and gain recognition. As a result of this achievement, I received my current industrial research position in the field I care about and have continued to take on increasingly complex and challenging projects to improve cancer treatment.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

There are many factors that can contribute to success, and the specific factors that are most important will vary depending on the individual and the context. However, for me the most important thing that can be major factors in achieving my success is being hard working and having dedication toward my goals by being persistence, resilient, learning from my mistakes, and staying motivated till achieving my goals.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Keep learning: The field of technology is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies. Consider taking online courses or earning certifications to stay current and improve your skills.

Network and build relationships: Building relationships with your colleagues, peers, and industry leaders can be beneficial for your career. Consider joining professional organizations or attending industry events to network and build connections.

Focus on problem-solving: Technology professionals are often called upon to solve complex problems. Developing strong problem-solving skills will not only help you excel in your current role, but it will also make you more attractive to potential employers.

Be open to new opportunities: Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges or try something outside of your comfort zone. This could lead to new opportunities and help you grow in your career.

Stay organized: Managing multiple projects and tasks can be overwhelming, so it’s important to stay organized and on top of your workload. Consider using tools such as project management software or to-do lists to help you stay organized and productive.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, there are still barriers for success for women working in tech. These barriers can take many forms, including discrimination, bias, a lack of representation and opportunities for advancement, and a lack of support for flexible work arrangements.

To overcome these barriers, it is important for companies to prioritize diversity and inclusion, provide opportunities for professional development and advancement, support flexible work arrangements, increase representation, and address and prevent bias and discrimination. This can involve setting diversity targets, implementing diversity training, creating inclusive cultures, offering leadership training and mentorship programs, establishing policies and procedures for reporting and addressing bias and discrimination, and taking appropriate action when these issues arise.

Individual women working in tech can also take steps to overcome these barriers by seeking out opportunities for professional development, networking, and mentorship, and advocating for themselves and their careers. It can also be helpful for women to seek out supportive communities and resources, such as professional organizations and online communities, that can provide guidance, support, and networking opportunities.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

In my opinion, there are many different and important things that companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology:

First and foremost, by providing opportunities for growth and advancement which would help women in tech build their skills and experience and progress in their careers.

Next, encourage networking and mentorship within the company to provide support, guidance, and encouragement as they navigate their careers.

Also, recognition and celebrating their achievements can help motivate and encourage them to continue pursuing their careers.

I am a big fan of support flexible work arrangements for women in tech to balance their professional and personal responsibilities and stay motivated and engaged in their careers.

Last but not least, providing resources and support such as work-life balance programs, can help women in tech manage stress and other challenges.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If I could wave a magic wand and accelerate the pace of change for women in the tech industry, I would focus on increasing representation and inclusion of women in the industry at all levels. This could involve a number of initiatives, such as:

  1. Encouraging more girls and young women to pursue careers in tech.
  2. Addressing unconscious bias and discrimination and to promote inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.
  3. Providing support and resources for women in tech.
  4. Promoting role models, leaders and mentors to them.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are many resources available for women working in tech. Here are a few suggestions:

Podcasts:

  • “Women in Tech” podcast: This podcast features interviews with successful women in the tech industry, sharing their experiences and advice.
  • “CodeNewbie” podcast: This podcast is aimed at people just starting out in tech, and often features interviews with women working in tech.

Networking events:

  • Girls in Tech: This organization hosts events and meetups for women in tech all around the world.
  • Women Who Code: This organization hosts events and meetups for women in tech, as well as offering resources and support for women looking to start careers in tech.

Books:

  • “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg: This book offers practical advice for women looking to advance in their careers, including in the tech industry.
  • “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman: This book explores the role of confidence in women’s careers and offers strategies for building confidence.

Conferences:

  • Grace Hopper Celebration: This annual conference is organized by the Anita Borg Institute and focuses on the advancement of women in tech.
  • Women in Tech Summit: This annual conference brings together women in tech to network and learn from each other.

Websites:

  • Girls Who Code: This website offers resources and support for girls interested in learning to code and pursuing careers in tech.
  • Women in Technology International (WITI): This website offers resources, events, and networking opportunities for women in tech.

I hope these suggestions are helpful!