Women in AI: Eva Valle Gutierrez
Leveraging digitally-enabled systems is one of the most important initiatives throughout the banking industry today. Eva Valle Gutierrez is the Director of Operational Control at Bankia, one of Spain’s largest banks, and is focused on that objective every day. She is currently concentrating on the application of AI in different corporate processes with the goal of streamlining and improving customer experience. “We want to offer an excellent experience whenever the clients contact us, regardless of the channel they choose,” she says.
Currently, Eva is working on implementing Amelia, IPsoft’s conversational and cognitive AI solution, into the bank’s operations to enhance the experience for their digital clients. “The project in which we are immersed is the implementation of the Amelia conversational assistant, which we have named Bianka, for our commercial network of offices,” she explains.
Specifically, Eva and her team are developing the knowledge that Amelia needs to learn, creating content maps to build Amelia’s expertise, which she’ll continue to foster daily by learning and training with the team. Eva’s group works closely with the bank’s communication department to provide Amelia with a distinct personality that fits Bankia’s DNA, in order to humanize and align with the business’ unique voice and values. “In my opinion, this is what really differentiates our assistant from others,” Eva says.
Acknowledging the general fear and misunderstanding that surrounds AI today, Eva feels those feelings often manifest out of an initial fear of something new. “Despite being increasingly present in many aspects of our lives, the ignorance about AI is why people may have the wrong ideas, wrong expectations and unfounded fears, something that is normal and usual in any transformation process,” she says. People may fear AI taking over their jobs, but Eva points out that countries with the highest degree of robotization such as Germany and Ireland are ones with close to full employment. To counter the fear around AI, Eva has recently adopted a phrase that she heard at a conference once: “Calculators did not replace mathematicians.” In other words, technology is the how, and humans are the why.
Eva feels fortunate to have had many mentors throughout her career who trusted and guided her on challenging projects. “They always guided me to acquire the knowledge and develop the skills I needed,” she says. They also imparted on her another valuable lesson: Never lose sight of the goal and never stop working until the desired results are achieved.
As a leader working in AI, Eva feels that she’s in a very fortunate position, and she also understands that it’s not easy for women to pursue careers in STEM. “I think that all companies must work on actions that allow cultural change, actions aimed to all, men and women, with a fundamental premise: Your gender does not define your future,” Eva says. “We excluded ourselves from everything related to science and technology [in the past], since that was a field of ‘men.’ Something as simple as pink is for girls and blue for boys, we are emotional and they are technical — it was what determined our decisions, both for us and for them.”
Now this is all changing, and Eva sees very clearly what needs to do be done to attract more women in STEM fields: Give greater visibility to women who are already successful and thriving in those careers already. “Once the doubts are cleared, [our brain] is also prepared to understand technology,” Eva says. “Women are habitual users of technology and therefore we are prepared to participate in its design; we are practical experts in solving problems in our day to day [activities], we are creative and innovative, and everyone knows that we are capable of doing several things at the same time.”