Sheldon Fernandes: Lucid VR Senior Software & Algorithms Engineer

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My Native Admission Statement: I am extremely passionate about building technology and products that solve problems by saving people money, time and resources. 3D cameras and their applications fascinate me, and I strongly believe that 3D technology combined with AI will make our products smarter and our lives a lot better. My drive for innovation and building things with my own hands is something my parents have noticed since I was a kid. I was usually responsible for ‘breaking’ things at home. I always aspire to learn more and more - though work or even on a regular basis. There is a lot of information out there, and I try my best to get most of what I can absorb. In grad school, I grew passionate about working about prototyping and working on building an actual product from scratch. An early stage startup was definitely the way to go. I wanted to work in the field of cameras too. That’s when I heard of a VR company in the valley. One of the best decisions I made.

What should everyone try at least once?

As we grow up trying to figure out what we’re good at and what we want to turn into a career, we sometimes slump into doing what’s easy. It is very important to spend some time periodically with one’s own thoughts to work on what we’re really passionate about. Getting there might not be the most comfortable route, but for sure brings a sense of accomplishment when you see it through. ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’

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Nisa Amoils: Investor & Venture Capitalist

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My Native Admission Statement: I have a diverse background which makes me a good investor – attorney, entrepreneur, media executive. I am passionate about new technology and enabling gender equality. I break down complex concepts into simpler analogies. I sell and promote ideas with passion. I wrote a book called “WTF is Happening? Women Tech Founders on the Rise” about this.

How did you get into the industry?

I started investing in technology about a decade ago and joined a VC firm to do the same. I started to focus on fintech a few years ago. As a securities lawyer, I was early to see the opportunity in security tokens and decentralized finance. I have been writing about that space in Forbes. I see Blockchain being an evolution that will make traditional finance more efficient, transparent, global, liquid and democratized – that is incredibly exciting.

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Audrey Wu: CONVRG Co-Founder & CEO

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My NativeAdMission Statement: I’m the CoFounder and CEO of Convrg, an AI voice and messaging platform powering experiences for brands such as Estee Lauder Companies and the GRAMMYs. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and fell into conversational AI, starting with chatbots in 2015 to now where we build world class voice experiences. I’m a walking wiki on all things chatbots and voice assistants and most recently spoke about the topic at SXSW and Mobile World Congress. I also write for Adweek. Chatbots and voice assistants are a very nascent industry which means there is no “traditional” background. One of my co-founders comes from a beauty, creative and editorial background while the other has an MBA and is a master coder. I came from a digital marketing via investment banking background.

Emerging industry trends?:

I am very bullish on voice assistants and conversational AI. Having built voice skills for top brands such as Estee Lauder Companies and GRAMMYs, I see a huge potential on how brands can capitalize on a truly bi-directional conversation with their users.

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Tanya Harris: Harman Cyber CEO

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My Native Admission Statement: I am a female entrepreneur within the field of Artificial Intelligence and Insider Threat. She is on the Board of Harrman Cyber, Universal Data Protection and ICOM4, and was previous Chair of American Chamber of Commerce, Women in Leadership. My personal mission is to help companies solve the problem of data protection and insider threat from a human motive/behavior standpoint, so that companies can start to protect their critical data from being exposed due to employee error and malicious attacks. People live with their own frame of reference, therefore when they have rejected the product, it is that person who has rejected it, not the organization that they work for. I do not let peoples’ opinions impact my motivation, I always maintain a positive can-do attitude and bounce back quickly from setbacks.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

We can do more AI as it can help identify the growing threat of a malicious insider threat by raising the satisfaction levels of employees. The challenge is data privacy laws under GDPR. Let me explain, the data that a company holds about their employees and clients, can be used to predict dissatisfaction that goes unnoticed to the human eye, in order intervene before it gets out of control. However, due to fear of employee backlash when using their data to predict happiness or dissatisfaction levels and bad press, many companies are not prepared to use this data which places their business at risk. And with research figures citing between 60% and 90% of cyberattacks and data breaches caused from insider threat, this is an issue that needs to be faced.

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