A Woman in AI to Watch Out For
Product Leader Aakriti Srikanth
I recently had the pleasure of attending two of Aku Srikanth’s lectures, where she spoke about how her human-oriented approach helped shape incredible career accomplishments in a very short amount of time.
I was struck by the incredible drive, energy, and inner beauty that radiates from whatever she puts her mind to. In both of her presentations, Aku highlighted the value of human connection, starting with a key statement from her first talk:
“Nothing important happens in the office.”
In both talks, Aku emphasized the importance of identifying people’s pain points, and providing real value to others based on an understanding of what they need. What was consistent between both speeches was this idea that relationships are much more valuable than what it says on your business card or what you might say in your sales pitch.
NIHITO & Personal Branding
At the Pragmatic Marketing meet-up, Aku walked the audience through her transition from Computer Engineering into Product Management and then into Product Marketing, all in the span of a few short years. This path was a direct result of working closely with an incredible list of her peers and mentors, who helped to guide her towards greater achievements.
During this discussion, Aku began to unravel the idea that you should always give value to the people you form relationships with. For her current role, she explained how she worked with a multitude of teams to come up with a proposal for conducting market research interviews out in the field to learn more about the current customers and identify their pain points.
At every level of the process, this project required her to assess the needs and problems of the audiences she was speaking with. Before conducting the research, buy-in from various cross-functional teams and other members of her organization was needed for the proposal to be approved. Once she was able to get this approval, her team needed to meet with various customers and assess their problems and pain points in a quantifiable and measurable way.
It requires an incredible level of patience and passion for people to push forward with a project of this caliber. Something unstated which seems clear from her accomplishments is how Aku’s work must also speak for itself. After conducting these interviews, data was brought back and incorporated in an action plan, which help reshape and inform their business strategy itself.
For her second talk, Aku revealed a more general and personal aspect of human relationships as she explored her perspective around personal branding. One of the questions that she posed early on in the talk was “what does it take to get to the next level?” Considering her analytical, logic-based approach and her lofty goals (In both talks, she made side references to a goal of becoming a CEO), her answer was a little surprising,
“Human emotions rule, at the end of the day.”
Through a very personal anecdote, Aku explained that it’s important to expect acceptance from other people, because
“When people know you expect acceptance, they’ll give it to you.”
More importantly, she explained how having a personal brand means showcasing your value and credibility to others around you, and being more content (and happy) with the life that you lead.
Referring back to the product marketing framework from her earlier speech, Aku suggested that personal branding was about identifying what your use cases are. She challenged the audience to ask themselves:
“Where can you add value in the lives of those around you?”