MSIS Women in Tech: The Future is AI & IoT

The Master of Science in Information Systems Women in Tech Leadership Series aims to cultivate a network of women leaders and allies, empower and support leaders in the tech community, offer resources, and redefine the future of upward mobility for women in tech. 

The Future is AI & IoT

The future is AI & IoT! Master of Science in Information Systems students and alumni got an exclusive tour of the Microsoft AI & IoT Insider Labs as a part of the MSIS Women in Tech Leadership Series.

Microsoft’s AI & IoT Insider Labs provide businesses of all levels, from start-ups to established enterprises, access to cutting-edge technology and expert guidance to accelerate the process of bringing intelligent products to market.

The tour was led by two influential leaders at Microsoft who have shaped their journey as women in technology to be at the forefront of innovation. Marlina Hales, Director of AI & IoT, and Cyra Richardson, General Manager of Artificial Intelligence & Robotics Incubation showed students and alumni the state-of-the-art equipment in the technical engineering labs, demonstrating how on-site 3D printing, CNC machines, and access to the best Microsoft technologies and support teams can lead to the digital transformation of businesses.

“The lab visit gave us an opportunity to see the various types of advanced equipment that help customers build their devices and to gain knowledge regarding the customer engagement lifecycle, sprint processes, and digital transformation.”

– Eryn Meng, MSIS Class of 2020.

After the tour, Hales and Richardson held a roundtable discussion on their journey from design to delivery of the AI & IoT lab, how diversity drives innovation, and provided empowering words to our future tech leaders on how they can accelerate their own development!

Design to Delivery of the AI & IoT Lab

Before the creation of the AI & IoT Insider Labs, Marlina Hales and Cyra Richardson saw a need to provide ways for external customers to collaborate with Microsoft to help develop their innovative AI or IoT solutions. From ideation to delivery, Hales and Richardson designed, built, and continue to operate the AI & IoT Insider Labs across three continents, even recently hosting their first pop-up lab and Women in Tech panel in Africa.

Diversity Driving Innovation

Both passionate about technology and equity, Hales and Richardson know that the transformative power of diversity allows for creative and innovative solutions and run the labs with that in mind. Every year, hundreds of customers from businesses of all sizes, industries, and resource levels come to the lab to receive the best guidance from not only cross-disciplinary teams, but from leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

With the discussion of their global presence, the leaders dived into conversations with students and alumni on the diverse perspectives surrounding digital transformation and the ethics of artificial intelligence. Recognizing that the language of tech is universal, they explained how experts from their labs in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Munich, and Redmond collaborate, learn from each other, and continue to work towards transforming businesses and changing the world.

Accelerate Your Development

Hales’ and Richardson’s passion and career journey resonated with our students and alumni. Cyra shared with our students the power of storytelling, noting that what contributed to the success of the lab, and her own career in technology, is the ability to deliver impactful messages and authentic stories that resonate with the audience.

Marlina also shared the importance of continuing to stay curious and picking up new skills. As the discussion came to an end, her last piece of advice for navigating the tech world as a woman was to “Never be apologetic. All the skills that you have acquired, and experiences gained, have prepared you for the role you are in today.”

The MSIS community left Microsoft feeling empowered and thinking of ways they can bring their own positive impact to the community with AI & IoT!

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