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Interview with Frincy, the winner of the WAI Ambassador of the Year 2022 Award by Anne-Katrin Neyer

Frincy Clement

Ambassador for Canada, Women in AI

2022 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100™

Top 25 Women in AI - Canada Edition

Frincy is an award-winning Artificial Intelligence leader with business acumen and passionate about giving back to the AI community. She is a community builder and changemaker, with drive and passion for empowering more women to adopt careers in AI. She has over 8 years of diverse experience in Telecom, Information & Technology, Consumer goods and Education sectors. She is a firm believer and practitioner of continuous learning and striving for excellence.

Frincy is the Canadian Ambassador for Women in Artificial Intelligence (WAI), a global community of women AI practitioners, contributing towards increasing the female representation in AI. Frincy brings WAI Canada at the forefront of renewed commitment to AI and diversity in tech by leading many strategic initiatives to inspire, connect, mentor and celebrate women AI professionals.

Frincy has received multiple awards and recognitions for her contributions to the field of AI, most notably she was awarded 2022 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100™ by Women Executive Network, 2022 Women in AI Ambassador of the Year by Women in AI and was featured in the Top 25 Women in AI - Canada Edition by Re.Work.

At TELUS Business, Frincy is responsible for building the AI strategy and solutions for TELUS Smart City. In 2021, she was awarded the “Connection Honors Leaders of Excellence” Award in the category of Emerging Leaders for her contributions in empowering women in STEM Careers. She has received multiple awards and recognitions for her contributions to the field of AI, most notably she was awarded 2022 Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100™ by Women Executive Network, 2022 Women in AI Ambassador of the Year by Women in AI, 2022 Advocate of the Year Award by Women in IT Awards Canada and was featured in the Top 25 Women in AI - Canada Edition by Re.Work. Our WAI Chief People Officer had an exclusive interview with Frincy, read further to find out!

Anne-Katrin: Frincy, you are the WAI Country Lead Ambassador Canada and the Winner of the WAI Ambassador of the Year 2022 Award. Congratulations! Whenever I see for instance on Linkedin how active you and your team are, I ask myself: Wow, how is she doing that? Do you have any “leadership hacks” you would like to share?

Frincy: - Thank you for your kind words. I am delighted to be recognized as the WAI Ambassador of the Year 2022, which was possible only because of the strong teamwork from each and every volunteer in the WAI Canada team and the support from the global team and community.

There is no secret recipe for the success of the WAI Canada team; As the Lead Ambassador, I follow just these three things for any of our initiatives: initiate-empower-celebrate. Understanding the needs and demands of our audience, we initiate discussions and brainstorming sessions to bring new programs and events that benefit our community. I recruit volunteers who are passionate about WAI’s mission and empower them to drive the initiatives and provide support as needed. Last, but not least - something that most of us forget to do - I encourage the team to celebrate each and every win, and the impact and influence we made, by sharing kudos and appreciation internally and externally.

The diverse and passionate team members of WAI Canada are the reason for the influence and impact that we were able to make in the AI community in Canada.

Anne-Katrin: What is the best experience you have had in your role?

Frincy: - The best experience I have had in being the Ambassador role was to see the impact that our events and initiatives have made in the lives of others. A couple of examples I can share are these: One of the youngest team members in our team who has been supporting us to organize some major initiatives got so inspired that she created a ‘Girls in AI’ club along with her friend in her high school. This was so inspiring for me and the team hearing we could really make an impact, especially at a young age and motivated them to think about a career in AI.

Another experience that also filled our hearts with so much joy was when we heard feedback from one of our regular attendees that a previous Women in AI Canada event had helped her get the current job in AI.

These stories tell us that the work we are doing is creating an incredible impact in the community and we are really able to drive WAI’s mission forward. These experiences make all of those hours volunteering without sleep, time away from family etc. so worthwhile.

Anne-Katrin: Given that you are a very inspirational person and role model, I am pretty sure that you are often asked to give advice. Hence (smile): What is your most important advice for women aiming at engaging in data and AI?

Frincy: - Careers in Data and AI are the most sought after in today’s world. All of the important business and political decisions and every part of our lives and livelihood are touched by the insights and decisions derived from the power of Data and AI. Artificial Intelligence Specialist is one of the highest growing emerging jobs as described by the LinkedIn emerging jobs report 2020 in US & Canada and at the same time, we have seen that women are still a minority in tech careers.

While there is demand, there are some perceived barriers to entry into a career in AI. Talking from personal experience, even though I had an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I always thought that a career in AI is only a dream and I do not have the skill set to learn and apply AI algorithms and techniques. This is an imposter syndrome, especially seen mostly in women, which keeps them away from tech careers. I broke this self-made barrier by building confidence and starting to believe that I am more than able to pursue a career in AI. In order to build the confidence, I reached out to AI professionals who mentored me to take the right steps to break through the high barriers.

My advice to those who are interested in Data and AI careers is as follows:

  1. If you are passionate about working with data, and driving decisions for your organization through data, a career in data and AI can be very fulfilling. A career in AI is very diverse, it ranges from the fully technical AI Engineers and Data Scientists to the less technical AI project managers, product managers, and so on. Hence anyone can move into a career in AI by bridging the current roles with AI education/projects.

  2. Find a mentor who can best support you to reach your goals. LinkedIn and in-person networking events are great places to meet such mentors. I would look for role models who are currently working in roles that you wish to pursue in the long term and reach out to request for being your mentor.

  3. A career in Data & AI is also a stepping stone for leadership roles. The career can lead you to leadership roles such as technical and strategic executive roles. Women often confine themselves to individual contributor roles, but if you are keen on making decisions, creating impact and leading people and projects, a tech leadership role is an excellent way to ascend the corporate ladder.

  4. Join an AI community where you can meet like-minded people, contribute to building the AI ecosystem and help organize meaningful programs. This not only enables you to support others like yourself to reach their career goals but also enhances your professional profile.

Anne-Katrin: And last but not least, why have you decided to engage in the work with data and AI? How would you end this sentence: For me the work with data and AI means…

Frincy: - For me the work with data and AI means a career with the perfect balance between business and technical knowledge. I have always loved working with data and enjoyed applying logic to solve problems. A career in data and AI gives me the satisfaction of working with advanced techniques and at the same time being close with the business.

With AI in the picture, the power of data to solve business problems has been exponentially impactful. Today, every industry and every job is related to AI in one way or another. For me, nothing gives me more happiness than knowing that the insights generated through my models or techniques are the reasons for increased revenue, decreased cost and increased efficiency. I am super proud and excited to be working and contributing to my organization and the AI ecosystem through my career.

Thank you so much, Frincy, for your engagement for WAI and taking AI to new heights!

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