As SVP, Head of Strategy for insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan Agency, Northeast Region (MMA), Shikha Khetrapal is already blazing a trail in AI leadership. Growing up in a family of scientists and doctors piqued Shikha’s interest and curiosity in the sciences. She was inspired to pursue a career in technology at an early age, and after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Engineering, she worked for PwC India to enhance government-citizen interfaces. That experience exposed her to the positive impact that technology can have on people’s lives, and from there she became passionate about working at the intersection of business and technology. She later pursued an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
A lifelong learner, Shikha remains passionate about the technology field as there’s always something new and meaningful to learn. She sees the constant changes in technology as a learning opportunity, and maintains this open-minded outlook when she attends various industry conferences as a way to continue learning and feed her curiosity.
Shikha is adamant that more young women would be exposed to careers in STEM if they are introduced and exposed to the field and provided guidance, as she was with her family. She believes we need to provide girls with a more supportive environment to explore these opportunities. “We need to provide young minds the freedom to experiment and explore what’s out there,” Shikha says. “We need a top-down approach from women and men alike in the workplace in leadership positions to give girls something to aspire to.”
Looking to the future, Shikha is most excited to see the predictive capabilities of AI fully developed, such as the ability to use data to predict the future. More specifically, Shikha is excited to see how this applies to Human Resources data, like employee termination or client attrition, and how AI can predict and thus prevent future incidents.
Shikha has a few helpful tips for females looking to begin a career in STEM: “Dedication and work ethic trumps any innate intellectual capacity – it’s difficult but hard work and studying will pay off. Utilize your resources and networks, online and off. Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing your goals!”