SWE Pune Roundtable Recap: The Impact of AI on the Future of the Workplace

FY20 SWE Global Ambassador Rishika Shekhawat shares a recap of the roundtable event "The Impact of AI on the Future of the Workplace," which took place at John Deere in Pune, India in December 2019.

This Pune roundtable recap was written by FY20 SWE Global Ambassador Rishika Shekhawat.


On December 12th, 2019, excitement at the John Deere facility in Pune, India was high. The reason for this energy was the SWE Roundtable meeting that received full participation from SWE staff, local SWE members, and 42 different industry professionals. The SWE Roundtable happens annually and this year it was held at three different locations in India: Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. John Deere India got the opportunity for the first time to host the SWE Pune Roundtable.

The attendees of this roundtable included 15 different organizations like Black & Veatch, Capgemini, Cummins, Eaton, Emerson, HCL, HP, Johnson Controls, KPIT, Seagate, and TCS, as well as professors from three different engineering colleges of SWE Affiliate Pune from Cummins College of Engineering for Women, KIT’s College of Engineering, and MITWPU. Also in attendance were Karen Horting, SWE Executive Director; Jennifer Scott, SWE Vice President, Strategic Partnerships; Paul Robichaud, SWE Managing Partner, SWE India; and Emily Burnett, SWE Global Programs Manager—all who traveled all the way from the USA.

SWE Pune Roundtable Recap: The Impact of AI on the Future of the Workplace SWE pune roundtable

The session started with an overview of John Deere business by Lata Variawa, General Manager, Strategic Planning and then proceeded to Karen Horting, SWE Executive Director & CEO. Karen mentioned the importance of such roundtables, in that they give women engineers a platform to understand the upcoming trends in industry. This talk led the pace for the interactive session titled “The Impact of AI on the Future of the Workplace” that was facilitated by Ms. Yeshasvini Ramaswamy, Founder, MnAgenome and a serial entrepreneur. She highlighted the most significant business disruptions expected in the coming decade due to AI and the critical skills that employees should prepare themselves with to be successful in the future. The session ended with recognition of the SWE Affiliate Pune members and SWE members, who had worked over the year to successfully contribute to SWE’s goals and mission.

Sayali Igave, a budding talent, who also received the Joint Professional/Collegiate Event Award this year said:

“This was a great event giving more profound knowledge about AI and its impact on the future. The important takeaway for me was AI is not something we should be afraid of. The event was full of videos giving me insight as to how AI will be taking charge of our daily activities, which made the session interactive and kept me engrossed. There was a video shared about a Volvo car which was interviewing for humans for jobs that was quite thought-provoking. Along with AI and its future, the event talked about women’s empowerment growing throughout the years through a video created by Shell about how in the early ’90s girls were not given admission to technical colleges. Throughout this event I got a chance to network with other engineers in the room. Thank you SWE for creating these sessions for women engineers. Activities such as this keep creating a positive impact on our lives. Glad to be part of this event!”

The highlight of the event was the Building Coherence exercise that Yesha conducted. Engineers were divided in different groups depending on how they feel about themselves based on the ambition cards. Yesha then motivated them stressing the point that this ambition card would be their own catalyst for upcoming changes. For me, the key takeaway was that AI is not that far away and we should prepare for this future. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, said: “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” This quote amped up the enthusiasm in the room as the audience took this energy back with them. As an ambassador, I was glad to be part of this thought-provoking discussion and I thank SWE for providing this platform for women engineers to network together.


About the author:

Rishika Shekhawat is a Lead Engineer in Compact Utility Tractors in John Deere Technology Center, India. She has completed her undergraduate studies at VNIT, Nagpur in India and Master of Technology in Design Engineering at BITS Pilani, India. She is also a certified by the International Fluid Power Society (IFPS) as a Hydraulics Specialist. Rishika joined and participated in SWE activities for the first time as an employee at John Deere India. Inspired by SWE’s vision and mission, she has successfully participated with increasing responsibilities in SWE events at JDTCI, Pune and then JDCP, Augusta. She is now a Global Ambassador for FY20.

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