A Career Student of Technology
Throughout your working life, you’ll come across all kinds of people–if you’re lucky, some will possess qualities you want to emulate, like passion, drive, determination. These are the qualities of someone who knows exactly what they want, and Vasagi Kothandapani (Vas) is one of them. Appen’s VP of Global Accounts has built her career on these qualities and we admire her for it.
As soon as she finished school, Vasagi entered the workforce through the IT industry and has thrived there for more than 26 years. Starting with getting a master’s degree in Information Technology and an Executive MBA degree in Systems, she later completed a post graduate program in Artificial Intelligence for Leaders. As someone who never stops learning, Vasagi also earned several additional certifications including:
- Harvard’s Sustainable Business Strategy
- Harvard’s Cybersecurity
- MIT’s Data Science and Analytics
Most of her illustrious career has been in the FinTech and Banking industries, with a few years spread across education, logistics, and hospitality. While initially focused on engineering roles like developer and architect, Vasagi found herself leaning into technology management and client relationship roles. When asked what type of leader she is, she identified herself as a people leader with a coaching leadership style. This is because recognizing and cultivating the individual talents of her team members, encouraging them to work together to reach a common goal, is what she does best. As a leader, the most important assets for her are People, Technology and Process in this order.
The two greatest career achievements to date are creating a multi-year Digital Transformation initiative that led to earning over $50 million of additional business and winning the CEO award for best performance in the same year.
Vasagi had been keeping an eye on the AI industry or a while. As she found the banking industry to be slow to adopt new technologies, she looked to Appen as the logical next step in her career path.
Vasagi was born in Bangalore, a city commonly referred to as the Silicon Valley of India. Her family placed a strong emphasis on academics which has fuelled a passion for learning that continues to this very day. At the start of her career, she found herself traveling to the US often and finally relocated to sunny California 7 years ago. These days, she lives in North Carolina with her husband and teenage daughter. As a family, they enjoy going on treks and Vasagi loves to cook special dishes for them to enjoy together on the weekends.
Vasagi + Appen = The Future
One of the key areas that Vasagi identified as an opportunity for Appen, and she drove as her first project, was a roster fill initiative. This program started out as a way for program and project managers to help each other quickly and efficiently find the right crowd members they need for each project. Originally planned only as a program to help a specific account, it expanded into a company-wide initiative that has helped other teams see positive results. For Vasagi, it was a two birds, one stone success as it both helped Appen grow and created a positive impact for our customers as well.
When asked what she wanted everyone to know about Appen it was that Appen is the leader in Data for AI lifecycle which is the most important element in building/enhancing machine learning algorithms. Appen has a competitive advantage in the market with our capabilities and focus on transformation will help us attain market growth.
Since joining Appen, Vasagi says her view of AI training data has evolved significantly because the company works with such a diverse set of demographics and she finds all the different kinds of data we collect amazing. She looks forward to the outcomes from implementing this data into various products and applications.
Thoughts on the Future of Tech
Vasagi believes the future is bright for AI. Her prediction is that AI will continue to be the foundation for new innovations across multiple industries through a variety of products and applications that will not only increase our economic growth but also improve our quality of life. To support this prediction, she cites AI/ML, IOT, Cyber Security, Edge Computing, and Quantum Computing as complementary emerging technologies and, when combined, form a strong ecosystem to create a wide range of applications that can change life as we know it. Sounds like a great prediction with solid logic to back it up.
We’re delighted to have you as our VP for the Global Accounts division, Vasagi Kothandapani. We couldn’t be prouder to share all the successes you’ve had thus far, and know you’ll help us take our mission of making AI data better to the next level.