07-May-2019

#JobsOfTomorrow - From the other side of the table

Ritika Pradhan

Talk about young achievers and Shantanu's list of achievements is overwhelmingly extra-ordinary. Head of AI Products, an MIT New Ventures Leadership graduate, a 2-time winner of the world's largest AI hackathon - and the list of accomplishments goes on for the 22-year-old. Shantanu's journey with Udacity began after he got passionate about data analytics during his college days. A year back (1 year and 4 months to be precise) Shantanu attended Udacity's job fair as a job aspirant. Last week, Shantanu attended it as a hiring partner. Proud to see how he has moved to the other side of the table in such a short span of time.

Tell us something about yourself
I am Shantanu Kumar, Head of AI Products at inFeedo, an organisation which is using AI in HR. I am an MIT New Ventures Leadership (class of 2019) Graduate & on the Alumni Advisory Board. I am an internationally published researcher, a 2-time winner of the world’s largest AI hackathon & an active contributor to Stanford Scholar with one of my papers ranked highest on the platform. A global speaker & guest lecturer at premier B-schools in India, I am also an advisor to multiple AI & Ed-tech startups.

At what stage of your career did you decide to enroll for a Udacity Nanodegree program and why?
In my 3rd year of Engineering, I realised that my skills had to be aligned to what the industry at the time was (and still is) on the lookout for. Udacity Nanodegree program, in particular, came with a wide array of projects that one could learn from and use for self assessment coupled with high quality educational content made it my go-to choice.

What role did Udacity mentors play in your success? And now that you yourself are one of Udacity's mentors, why do you think it is important to have someone guide you through the program.
Having a mentor brings to you the comfort of making mistakes as you learn and having someone watch over those to correct course. It remains one of the best parts of the Udacity experience and now that I'm mentoring students as well, it almost feels like I'm giving back to the community that did me wonders.

Today, you are the AI Products head at inFeedo. Tell us something about your role.
I lead the end-to-end development of all AI-related features that are embedded into inFeedo’s products. We've recently developed a state of the art NLP engine in the AI/HR space that boasts of domain specific textual analytics which is powered by a proprietary algorithm called LexScore that helps drive actionable and effective action within the organisation. This involves a huge chunk of my bandwidth in terms of:

  • Gathering market intelligence & research and development of new features
  • Ideating with my team to develop GTM strategies
  • Data analytics and engineering to find metrics that back our hypothesis
  • Developing an extensive prototype to test out with customers
  • Deploying and tracking success metrics
  • Doing this ALL OVER AGAIN and AGAIN (till its perfect!)

You were hired by Udacity India at Udacity Propel two years ago and today you are yourself hiring for inFeedo. How does it feel to be on the other side of the table in such a short span?
It’s actually 1 year, 4 months ;) In all honesty, it’s been quite a journey, and Propel is extremely personal to me because it gave me the exposure I needed to be where I am. I am eternally grateful and always will be, irrespective of which side of the table I am sitting at. I love Udacity! <3

As an employer, why do you prefer to hire Udacity Nanodegree grads. What makes them stand out?
From my experience, I have seen average minds come through the funnel and leave brilliant. Udacity as a platform is an experience, where you are coupled with amazing folks learning the same things and building from it, unlike any other course I have seen before. Udacity teaches students to be great students who are eternally learning. The journey for them does not end with the course. It’s just the beginning.
About the author
Ritika Pradhan