Throughout an IBM career that spans more than 23 years, Shalini Kapoor has personified the expression "doing well by doing good." As a leading responsible steward of technology, Kapoor is committed to the principle that technology and business must deliver benefits to society as a whole.
Kapoor was named one of 2020's 12 new IBM Fellows.
"I am passionate about transformations that shape people's lives," she says. "Inside IBM, this could take the form of leading the infusion of AI into our offerings while adopting Watson technologies, or motivating more people to skill or re-skill themselves in AI. Externally, it has meant leading some of the Good Tech projects that impact us as a society.
"What energizes me are IBM's Good Tech projects that engage millions of school children so they can learn 21st-century skills and be ready to transform their own lives," Kapoor says.
Kapoor's journey at IBM has included leadership roles in Technical Sales, Research, and Development. Her many accomplishments include creating the Watson Internet of Things (IoT) and AI Lab in India Software Labs, and seeding the Global Systems Integrators Technical Mission. Kapoor also helped build out IBM's IoT ecosystem by enlisting partners and working with start-ups across numerous industries. She also pioneered the concept of IoT Recipes, which provides partners with step-by-step guidance for integrating their offerings with IBM Watson IoT solutions on the IBM Cloud.
Kapoor's entrepreneurial drive is only matched by her deep technical expertise. She holds 12 patents and was one of the first two female IBM Distinguished Engineers in India. She received the Technical Role Model award from the global management consulting firm Zinnov in 2012. And in 2015, she was awarded the Woman in Technology award from eMERG India. She also is a nominee for the Economic Times Prime Award for Technology Leader of the year 2020—a top award in India.
Within IBM, Kapoor advocates for the cross-functional skills development that will democratize future AI leadership. "Python programmers, IoT experts, and mobile applications developers need to acclimate themselves to the mindsets of AI and machine learning," she says. "There is a great talent at IBM, and I have seen how cross-unit collaboration and stretch assignments can morph into new client offerings that extend our lead in AI."
Outside of IBM, Kapoor is dedicated to helping the next generation of AI leaders through her support for STEM education in schoolchildren. In 2014, she founded an NGO, Ankurit Foundation, to promote innovation and curiosity among primary and secondary school students and conducted Escape Velocity, a first-of-its-kind, corporate-funded STEM fair for more than 3,000 school children. Kapoor is also working with the Indian government to introduce AI into the core curriculum for millions of students—many of whom are disadvantaged.
"Transformation begins within," Kapoor says, "but it is not limited to you. To affect positive change, you have to scale and reach across traditional borders to engage people so you can help shape their lives for the better."
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