CTO Swathi Young on Leadership, Biases, & the Bribe She won’t Refuse

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Swathi Young

In this feature, the Editor-in-Chief of StartuptoEnterprise, Linda Ashok, talks to Indian-American Chief Technology Officer at Integrity Management Services, Swathi Young, on workplace biases, the bribe she would never refuse, and industry leadership through professional and community commitment.

Swathi Young on her Leadership Role at Integrity Management Services, Inc.

About Integrity Management Services, Inc.: (IntegrityM) brings more than fifteen years of proven corporate experience providing healthcare solutions for the US federal government. Our services include audits, data analytics, investigations, medical record reviews, and outreach & education activities to help the Department of Health & Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid detect fraud, waste, and abuse.

  • At IntegrityM, I spearhead the delivery of innovative digital solutions for clients and optimizes AI/ML solutions for associated implementation, integration, and operational processes.
  • I lead rapid prototype building of products using Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for fraud detection in the healthcare domain, &
  • a team of data scientists to deliver optimized AI/ML solutions using human-centric design principles. 

Swathi on her method to the madness, aka her disruptive leadership strategy

I believe in leadership at multiple levels—lead the organization strategically to meet its mission, empower teams to help them achieve their goals, and drive community-building through inclusive digital products and educating the public about their digital rights.  

Swathi Young on her journey to become the CTO at Integrity Management Services.

I had a fair share of internal and external challenges. At the beginning of my career, the set of internal challenges included learning how to be self-aware, listen intently, lead with empathy, market with humility, and deal with conflicts. 

My external challenges included overcoming subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination as a woman-in-tech, finding sponsors to support and trust me with opportunities, and differentiating constructive and destructive criticism.

Swathi Young on the support she received at a personal and professional front as a career woman

Personally, I have a supportive husband who cheers me to undertake any new initiatives. I learn everyday from books, podcasts, and other leaders in the industry. 

Professionally, I have sponsors who believe in my expertise, appreciate the value I offer and encourage me to lead new initiatives. 

On current threats in the technology space and how she is harnessing artificial intelligence to curb its impact

The biggest threat I am observing in the tech space has less to do with technology know-how and more to do with its impact on society. While AI has many benefits, it is also increasing the digital divide between various sections of society. 

I am harnessing the power of human-centric design while implementing AI solutions, raising awareness about bias in AI, how to deal with it, and evaluating the ethical implications of AI. For example, I recently led and co-authored the Ethical evaluation of the US federal government’s AI framework. 

Swathi Young’s involvement with Women-in-AI; how it happened, and her your role as an ambassador

When I heard about this amazing group called “Women-in-AI” two years back, I volunteered to be an ambassador and spread why diversity is essential for AI. 

My role as a “Women-in-AI” ambassador is to increase women representation in data science, help spread the narrative of why diversity matters in AI, organize events to hear from women AI experts and help other girls and women realize opportunities AI provides.

On gender bias toward women-who-think in the corporate space 

Yes, there is definitely a conscious and unconscious bias towards women who are driven and ambitious in the workplace. 

Conscious bias includes excluding women from meetings, interrupting or cutting-off during meetings, stealing their ideas, giving negative feedback about their behavior “too aggressive or not too aggressive” instead of facts about work deliverables, not approving promotions and recognizing their amazing work, not including women in high-visibility projects, and not paying women at par with their male counterparts. 

Unconscious bias includes not using your name while addressing someone, correcting their pronunciation, making fun of their accent, complementing clothes, shoes, or jewelry when not required, and not including them in networking events like baseball or football games. 

Swathi Young names three women colleagues she appreciates for their professional excellence & industry contribution

Elizabeth Adams – For highlighting racial bias in Facial Recognition Technology, Video Surveillance, Predictive Analytics, and Children’s Rights

Gwynn Sturdevant – For leading the R-ladies DC group (2000+ members) and organizing fun events where we discuss data science and have fun reading books and watching movies

Wadiya Wynn – For not only being an amazing leader at Amazon but also supporting all things related to women-in-tech, girls-in-STEM, and African-American women in technology

A story that set a deep impression on Swathi Young, leading to many new lessons and wisdom

When I got my first promotion as Director of Engineering, it taught me so many things all at once; how to show up for your team members, how to be an empathetic manager, how to believe in yourself, conflict-resolution, what battles to focus on, and the general confidence that I have not forgotten my leadership skills from 5th grade. 

Swathi Young on any new and pending goals, the sweetest bribe, and last words

I look forward to building inclusive and innovative technology solutions. The sweetest bribe I cannot refuse is “plants.” And my last words be—we live in the best of times where we have free resources at our disposal—learn new skills, try different things to recognize what you love, be bold, practice in front of a mirror, raise your hand, and always speak up.

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Founding Editor

Linda Ashok  
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