Madhura Dudhgaonkar is the Head of ML Engineering at Workday where she focuses on search organization, data science organization, and machine learning platform organization. Madhura sat down with us to share her journey from expat to engineer and her advice for working in Machine Learning.
Welcome to The Expat Woman, Madhura. Thank you for answering a few questions for us!
Can you tell us a bit about your background growing up in India and being one of the first in your family to attend college?
“I grew up in a small town in rural India and was that stubborn kid that insisted on going to engineering. I was the first in the family to go to engineering. Also, I was the first one who insisted on going to US to pursue my passion for tech. That was a big deal, during a time where girls were married off as soon as humanly possible. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my mom and dad’s courage to send an Indian girl for higher education before marriage. A quite gutsy thing for our rural area.”
Did your upbringing inspire you to enter into the engineering field?
“It was more laziness on my part and a choice by elimination. In India, if you get good grades, you essentially have two choices, you go become a doctor or do engineering. For me at decision time, I had seen the thick medicine books and did not see myself pouring over them for years in my life. That eliminated one of the two choices I had and I chose engineering (which I thankfully enjoyed learning and kept doing well in.)”
How did you first get interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning?
“One thing that has driven me all my life is going towards the unknown, the cutting edge. The thrill of the unknown and staying at the edge of my comfort zone is what keeps me energized. Machine Learning is clearly the new frontier ripe for innovation and a big draw for risk-takers (my kind of people), that want to change the world leveraging latest innovations. When the leader of the ML startup that Workday had acquired asked me whether I wanted to join their leadership team, I jumped at the opportunity. And haven’t looked back since.”
More women are entering the field of AI than ever. What is your best advice for a someone just starting out in the field?
“Dream big but stay focused on that next milestone!”
Thank you, Madhura!