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Kameswarie Nunna

Business Manager – Simulation and AI, Newton 

Helping other women develop and thrive within an engineering and consulting organisation is an opportunity which one engineer turned data scientist relishes after receiving support from colleagues when she first joined the sector.

A career in engineering and AI has seen Kameswarie Nunna work on a range of projects from F1 racing simulators through to helping develop models that optimise the use of a client’s strategic assets more effectively. 

Early on in her career, Kameswarie was focussed primarily on building the foundations of her career through developing her technical and theoretical knowledge. As her career has progressed this has changed to softer skills and the real-world applications of her work. This skillset has served her well whilst working within a number of organisations and industries.

What is particularly rewarding in her current role as a business manager is the opportunity to see projects through from proof-of-concept to end-stage deployment.

Making a difference

Kameswarie works with Newton Europe’s digital team and is also one of the leads on the company’s advanced data science capability.

“My role is primarily within data science,” she explains. “One of my current projects in this area is pioneering cutting-edge techniques such as reinforcement learning to enable clients to improve the shelf-life of key value strategic assets.

“Seeing a model you have developed used for a live problem and actually making a difference is special.”

Applied maths to data science

Like many who join the STEM sector, Kameswarie has been inspired by a number of scientists which encouraged her to pursue further education. Following studies in India, she completed her PhD in nonlinear control, eight years ago at Imperial College London and joined a mathematical computing software firm as a technical evangelist promoting a scientific computer language.

Having spotted a role with F1 racing team Red Bull, she seized the opportunity to switch to industry and apply her skills on racing simulators, that improve the performance of the car as well as train the drivers. From there, she moved to McLaren Applied Technologies, researching how to use F1 technologies in other fields, which at times was as ground-breaking as improving the flow of patients through a hospital.

Seeing a model you have developed used for a live problem and actually making a difference is special.

Gender balance

Over the years, she has noticed the gender balance shift during her engineering career and also noted how women work to support one another in a sector that remains male-dominated. “When I started at Red Bull, there were very few women on the engineering side, but we became very close.

In India, there are a lot of women who do engineering and get jobs in technology and that is considered prestigious. However, early in my career, I had the impression that I had to be twice as good and work twice as hard to be heard and be recognised for my contribution.”

Opening doors

At Newton, she sees senior leaders supporting women and reflects on some key learnings they have taught her. “My mentor encouraged me to let go of the need to be successful, when you focus solely on success and being the best, the failure and challenges you encounter can be harder to overcome. But they are an essential part in your growth and development. This is something I am still learning but I try and encourage other women to do the same when coming through the organisation. Watching the people that you manage and mentor become better is such a nice feeling,” she says.

Her advice to women – and also to men – entering the industry is to lay out the technical foundations, and the things you really want to understand, from the outset. “Don’t be afraid to focus on getting the fundamentals right first, as it gives you credibility and can underpin career progression. Those softer skills can always come later.”

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