Will Maunder Taylor
What inspired you to work in AI?
It’s a fast moving space similar to Cyber, MedTech and FinTech and you can feel the momentum as well as the constantly changing landscape. One is beginning to see meaningful applications helping solve problems rather than just experimentation, from helping detect cancer with large global medical data bases, help governments activate economies post-COVID through to Pepsico identify changing customer buying behaviours and the likes of Metlife offer Life Assurance to those older generations previously deemed too risky or SEB (Sweden) offer loans to entrepreneurs and young professionals who were previously unbankable due to their risk profile and the lack of information available on them.
What is your speciality and how is the present Covid-19 pandemic affecting your normal working routine ?
I specialise in helping business decision makers (CEOs through to heads of business departments) identify challenges they face that could be solved by applying AI or leveraging data to identify what’s drive/behind the problems or predict the future and then shape it. If anything it has humanised many working relationships with clients. From seeing kids, spouses and pets in the background of video calls with clients through to seeing inside people’s homes and formal attire now absent the ability to work digitally has lowered many interpersonal barriers. Team culture has suffered, especially with new joiners and the ability to learn from ones team mates is hugely diminished. I never thought i’d say it but im looking forwards to coming back to London.
How did you get to where you are today?
Having co-founded a successful cyber defence software company I ran a pro-bono recruitment agency that specialised in ex forces placements into the private sector with all revenue/fees donated to military charities, which helped me expand my network to hear about the role, and the chance to work alongside some social impact orientated individuals from the founder of the Invictus Games through to the organiser of Row2Recovery.
What advice would you give to students/young OWs who would like to join the AI profession?
Don’t just consider the big names or the best trodden paths. Get involved in the start-up and scale-up scene in junior Business Development or Sales roles. It allows rapid growth all being well and perhaps more importantly exposure to a multitude of roles (internal and external) or look at Grad schemes with the large cloud names such as Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft, which are under-rated. To stand out from the crowd there are many well regarded certifications for example Azure (Microsoft) has certifications from Data Science Associate to Power BI (data visualisation) that can be done in several days and accelerate one’s understanding of the landscape as well as provide a head start in the search for roles/jobs.
What is it like working within AI at the moment?
A lot of very capable and inspiring individuals in the sector. It feels fast moving, there is capital available for companies to access enabling fast growth of companies which adds to the excitement and companies are increasingly spending more on many areas of AI ensuring its future. It can be difficult to see behind the marketing and jargon or understand exactly what a technology is doing however growingly the barrier to harnessing AI is dropping meaning less technical people can use it.
What are your career highlights?
I think for me it’s the people I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside or the friendships made. For many individuals I’ve met, solving meaningful real world problems and working within a team culture they are inspired by are their priorities in life.
Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out?
Snowballs fights on the frozen lake or freezing cold morning dips in the outdoor pool.