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Vanessa is a manager in the Data Science & AI area. She has worked at MHP in Munich for five years now. Initially she also lived in this bustling Bavarian city, but now she has returned to her home – Lake Constance. Vanessa studied industrial engineering and is undertaking a doctorate at LMU Munich alongside her work for MHP. Vanessa’s specialist area is Natural Language Processing, and she also volunteers with “Junger Wirtschaftsrat Baden-Württemberg,” an economic council youth forum.

Data science and AI are your comfort zone – what is it that you love about these areas?

For me, there is one thing above all that sums up AI: enormous potential – and we have barely even scratched the surface. There is so much data that is either not being used or not being used efficiently. Scientifically speaking, there has been exponential progress in recent years in the computer-based analysis of unstructured data, such as text. This growth has been driven by increased computing power and declining costs. As a result, there is enormous potential for improved or new applications within the economy.  

Picture the scenario: More than 80 per cent of today’s data volume is made up of unstructured data, and this figure is increasing all the time. It is vital, though, that companies utilize the knowledge potential of their own data if they are to avoid being left behind by organizations that are already doing this.  

I just love working with my clients to help them explore their options and realize their full potential. More specifically, what this means is automating the process of extracting the knowledge that is contained within text, linking it with other data and identifying interesting connections – and then using this context to enable clients to access new knowledge that will allow them to create an improved or innovative offering.

What is particularly important to you professionally?

I need to work in an innovative and open-minded environment. It’s also important to me that everyone around me is motivated to make change happen. Working at MHP gives me this opportunity. Working here, I am able to share my vision and ideas and make a contribution with the projects I am involved in. I also like the fact that, as an organization, we are very open to new approaches. This means that I get to indulge my own entrepreneurial spirit!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I’d give everyone the same opportunities to access a decent basic education. Good education is vital for helping us to expand our own horizons and make things happen in our own sphere of influence. That is one of the reasons why I am committed to getting SMEs engaged with AI and helping them as they move toward becoming data-driven companies.

That sounds exciting. How did you get involved with that?

Within “Junger Wirtschaftsrat Baden-Württemberg” there is a competency cluster called “Junges BaWü” and we are also collaborating with Esslingen University on its project to support Regionales KI Lab. Our mission is to encourage and empower SMEs to understand artificial intelligence and to trial it or introduce it in a systematic way. We believe that AI is not a trend that you can afford to let pass you by. And more than that, even, it is a vital element of remaining competitive. This is why we help smaller companies, as they tend not to have easy access either to AI or to the required capacity and need our support in order to remain competitive.  

We do this by helping them identify appropriate use cases, evaluating those cases and then implementing the projects. 

As a consultant, you are on the road a lot. Alongside that, you volunteer and work on your doctorate – what does your work-life balance look like?

It is extremely important to me to be able to identify completely with what I am doing. If I have that, I don’t need to “balance” my everyday work. That doesn’t mean that my friends and hobbies, traveling and my love of fine dining are not important. Quite the contrary. I am just as passionate about these things as I am about my career and my research. I believe that the two aspects complement each other.  

For example, I love to reflect on my project work while I’m sailing and this is when I most often come up with solutions to outstanding problems, be they for customer projects, research matters or strategic approaches. It’s a bit like yin and yang for me – you only truly have a rounded picture when everything comes together.

Finally, how would you finish this sentence: Success should be …

… something to be proud of! And for that to happen, you must be doing what you truly enjoy and feel passionate about. This is the only way to make sure you are 100 per cent committed and open to trying new things. For me, passion is the foundation of success – in any area.