Making Tech Transformation Human
How do the worlds of tech, human capabilities and transformation collide? No need to look any further than what the team at Mesh-AI are up to in their day-to-day roles. Intending to enable their customers to unlock the value of their data, Mesh-AI is reimagining what it means to be a digital transformation consultancy reimagining how enterprises operate and making data and AI their competitive advantage. Interested in how they’re doing this, what this entails and how you could join their team? We’ve got you covered as we sat down with Naina Kini, Delivery Principal at Mesh-AI. Let’s hear from Naina!
Hailing from Bangalore in India, Naina’s path to becoming an engineer was varied. Whilst she wanted a career in the arts, she got into tech via an interest in Information Site Engineering, Computer Science and the world of tech in general. She initially started her career working at Software Engineering companies, she realised what she enjoyed most was the human connection to technology and so she set out to find out how she could marry the two in her career.
She later made a move to Glasgow and it was here, at the University of Strathclyde, that a chance module in consulting for her Master in Business Management, that Naina realised she’d found a way to pivot her career. If you’re also interested in how to use data to make decisions and solve problems, then keep reading as we find out from Naina what it’s like to do this full-time at Mesh-AI.
What exactly is Data Consulting?
Everyone has a different definition of consulting, but by and large, it’s when clients come to you with a problem and you help them solve it by advising or guiding them in a particular area of your expertise. Whilst it can be strategy, management, or technology, for myself and the team at Mesh-AI it’s Data. We look at the evidence, understand it and then work collaboratively with our clients to improve outcomes.
How does the work you do make a difference in your life and the lives of your clients?
I’m a problem-solver, it’s what drives me and keeps me going and here in my job, I’m solving problems daily. It might be for my team, it might be for the leadership at Mesh-AI, or it might be for my clients. I think a lot of value that we add to our clients is that we take time to understand their issues at their core. For example, if it's a large transformation, we help our clients through the journey to be more data-centric organisations by changing their technology, process and behaviour. We don’t just hand over an advanced solution at them and disappear, we take into account all repercussions, outcomes and long-term adoption. We also think about what different processes will help them utilise the data solution in the best way possible, cultural and behavioural changes that they need to bring to their organisation to extract the utmost value from this data solution and the technology implementation too. We do this using our Mesh-AI model, which is a 360-degree model. We look at the overall adoption of what this solution can do for our client. And that's very valuable, not just from our side, but from our client side, as well.
What do you enjoy about working at Mesh-AI?
What I enjoy working about working at Mesh-AI is that there’s a certain amount of freedom in the way that I can do my job. Because we’re scaling quickly – which is a spectacular achievement for a startup in a field such as Data Consulting – there's freedom in the way that I can evolve my role, and what I can achieve in my career. The second thing that I enjoy is that our leadership team is very approachable which gives me a lot of confidence when approaching them with a question that they’ll be transparent.
What does success as a Data Consultant look like to you?
Considering my role, success as a Data Consultant is building long-lasting relationships with our clients and my team and empowering them to do what they want to do even if I vanish off the face of the earth tomorrow. To build these relationships, openness, honesty, trust and loyalty are needed as well as ensuring that we tailor our solutions to them.
Because I'm more big on strengthening relationships / the leadership management side rather than the technical solutions side, my definition may look a little different to others but I think it’s important to strike a balance between the two.
What are some misconceptions about Data Consulting at Mesh-AI or in general?
1. That you must be a pro with 30+ years of experience in Data Analytics
I think in the past five or so years, the buzzwords of Data Analytics, Machine Learning and AI have become prominent in the market and it’s led to everybody feeling as though they need to have certain a skill set, need to know to code or be a pro at using some sort of visualisation tool to have a successful career in data. Whilst it would be remiss to say you don’t need any of this at all, I’ve found that at the base you just need to understand how technology works.
You don't need to engineer or have a double master's degree in Advanced Analytics to have a career in data. I have had people who've studied Law or English Lit move to data and bring skills from those industries. There are multiple ways for you to polish and learn the skills.
2. There’s no diversity
It’s hard to ignore that there’s not always diversity in the tech workforce but it’s starting to get better. Of course, there are a lot of systematic and historical reasons as to why there aren't people from a certain gender or a certain race, etc, within a particular field but we are seeing the tides turn. For me, I’d like to encourage everyone – don’t be afraid to try this or don’t let the perception of accessibility put you off. I'm the first woman in the whole Engineering, Delivery and Consulting field at Mesh-AI (bearing in mind we are a smaller company) and I was hesitant about the work culture before joining. However, I'm very happy to say I've been proven wrong. Mesh-AI is inclusive, and respectful, and gives me autonomy. Honestly, I've never felt out of place as there’s a real sense of belonging in the team. I'm really glad that I was proven wrong.
What type of skills do you think suits those wanting to be a part of the tech team at Mesh-AI (both technical and non-technical) and which of these has helped you the most?
To be successful at Mesh-AI, there are multiple ways you can go about it. If you’re an Engineer, then engineering skills, knowing some coding languages, and being able to build a solution whilst working with others can help. If you're a Product Owner, then understanding the product thinking and how to evolve that with your client can be very useful. If you're in the delivery team, then understanding the different delivery principles, and how to enable your team to work as a team and deliver successfully is useful. And then for Consulting, thinking: how do I build relationships with the client? How do I get them to trust me? How do I turn pain points into opportunities for the clients and ourselves?
As you can see there's a range of skills that can be useful here at Mesh-AI. Skills that have helped me is a certain level of understanding of technology as to why are we implementing a giventhe solution By that, I don't mean having to understand a 1600-line code, but rather, the logic of it. This coupled with effective communication and negotiation skills is handy.