I’m sixteen months into the Daytime MBA program at Fuqua, and the experience has been hugely rewarding. As a part of my curriculum, I’ve had the privilege of studying under professors who are globally renowned leaders in their fields, traveled to South America to help a large financial institution transform its digital strategy, and interned at a company that I’ve wanted to work for since I was a teenager.

However, my already amazing experience got even better when the Global Team at Fuqua asked me to organize and moderate a panel discussion with Nivruti Rai. Nivruti is the country head for Intel, India, and the top technology advisor to the Indian government. She came to Fuqua during her visit to Duke to unveil Prime Minister Modi’s Global AI Conference in New Delhi, which is to be held in April 2020.

In addition to Nivruti, attending the discussion at Fuqua was David Hoffman, the director of security policy at Intel, Prashant Shah, a prominent Bollywood filmmaker, two members of the Global Team at Fuqua, and sixteen second-year MBA students, representing the Association of Women in Business, the Tech Club, and INDUS—the South Asian club.

more than a dozen students post for a photo with Nivruti Rai, top technology advisor to the Indian government

After a quick round of introductions, Nivruti started off the discussion by explaining the rationale behind why she thinks that AI will be one of the biggest drivers of India’s GDP growth in the coming years. She told us about the petabytes of data that India has, and how she and Intel are partnering with the state and national governments to improve everything from health infrastructure to road conditions, including the development of grey zone mappings to reduce the high rate of traffic accidents in the country.

Discussions with students ranged from how to bring data out of the “walled gardens” of the big tech firms and allow it to be leveraged by passionate social entrepreneurs who want to use that data to train machine learning models for improving the society, to how future leaders at Fuqua, who come from developing nations like Nicaragua, can help their countries benefit from the global AI revolution.

She also spoke at length about the various “smart” initiatives that have been undertaken by the Indian government over the last five years, such as the Smart Cities Mission and CityStack, and how these initiatives are collaborating with each other to usher in a digital age in India.

From the discussion, it was amply evident that Nivruti is incredibly passionate about leveraging AI to solve several of the economic and societal challenges that plague India and the world. Conversations with my fellow classmates after the discussion echoed my feelings—we were truly inspired by Nivruti’s lifelong dedication and passion towards the subject. She is a role model for anyone that is looking to positively impact their communities through technology. We felt empowered to uncover our passions and solve the most pressing problems of the world.