The AstuteAI Company Founder and Managing Director
The University of Texas at Arlington MSEE, Electrical Engineering
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
So nowadays I run my own small boutique consulting firm that basically does Advanced analytics in the utility Electrical utilities sector. So that's where I am there. I've bean in consulting for the last 38 years. Uh, I am an electrical engineer by profession. My graduate degrees in electrical engineering to, um, I started life working in a steel plant as a maintenance engineer, like most electrical folks do working in industry. But then kind of moved on to systems where, you know, you're looking at automation off systems and then moving on to sort off tech strategy. Technical architectures. I came to the U. S. In 1996. So just about 25 years ago and then have bean working in consulting with consulting firms mostly, you know, top Fortune 5000 clients, mostly working in tech strategy. Take architectural again. Very, uh, you know, sort off focused on the next generation off technology and how effects business What incidents and experiences. I think one of the biggest things that happened to me when I was back in India was I went to the UK to sort off, look at so sums engineering there and then decided that I need to come and get a graduate degree here. Went to school here in UT Arlington and then joined a company out from, uh, the industry. You know, Ross Perot was the owner. So did consulting. That started my consulting journey, and, yeah.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks, especially challenges, when you started working as a consultant? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
I'm relatively new as an independent. Sort off. You know, Enterprise owner, Very small. Group off about six people and we are continuing. Thio. Look at, you know, the next degree or the next form off advanced analytics in multiple spaces. Utilities being our core strength because of the electrical is my sort of my big reader. I've done a lot of work and multiple other domains. The electrical utilities industry here person is, uh it's still sort of lagging the rest off the other domains because off various reasons. But s O, that was, you know, an opportunity for us that we saw is a good place to grow. We started about the September October off last year on then, obviously, the last six months, with the pandemic being there, things have been very slow. We are just trying to sort off, you know, wait for the tide to turn so that discussions that are on with multiple clients can actually see some revenue starting to come in. So it's been a challenging time, but again, because off all of us being from past consulting backgrounds, we you know, we tend to know this up and down in the in the business cycle. We expect things to sort off, turn back toe normal by the second quarter of next year. So time is what we are looking at. But I'm holding on doing our own stuff on, then see how it goes.

What tools (software programs, frameworks, models, algorithms, languages) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools or services more than the others? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
off that is actually driven by the partnerships that we have. We do a lot off big data, you know, work mostly on on the azure platform. If if the customer is willing to do that so that we are actually doing ah, pay as you go model. If not, all are big data on M l algorithms are all you know, driven on like a Apache spark sort off very small, but again, a lot off. Fine tuning off That model is done depending upon what the customer asks. Because off the utility industries on their way off gathering data and and the potential of the data being not being clean. So there are multiple ways of handling it. But overall scheme of things, you know, after we have figured out how we bring the data about how we do in just the data, then if the customer is his cloud savvy, then we do a lot of work on a jar. Uh, the you know, the customer is on aws than we do with the blue s of DCP. But our preferred platform has bean azure because our skill set, you know, our internal skill set is more on the azure platform. But again, you know, if people don't want to go the cloud our we have our own frameworks. But all those frameworks are used to sort of drive the customer on the maturity level up. But the core, You know what? If you call says a software platform, it's all about this park, uh, form that that, you know, in the Apache sort off landscape.

What are the profiles of your clients? What kind of projects do you handle? What skills are needed in these projects?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
most of our clients now are all in the electrical nuclear space on Most of them are looking at ways to other God cost or move their digital agenda along because off how the electrical utilities have evolved on the information technology part the business part off the utilities have more or less gone on to the, you know, cloud service providers in in in chunks. So, you know, you have maybe a maximum. You have, ah, smp But the operational technology off actually running the electrical grid that has not, you know, kind of moved on to the cloud for various reasons. You know, for in the past there were some what you call data privacy issues, some security issues. But all of these are you know what I call you know, 24 to 36 months, historical perspectives. So now there is Ah, you know, there are two different sort off pieces happening in the U treaty investors, and we play in board. One is when the industry is looking to move their operational tech onto the clouds. So we I mean, as consultants, we, you know, advise them on. You know what to look for. Whatever gotchas how we have done it in other places. So that's one segment. The other segment is for the people who are already cloud savvy, but now want to take the next sort of step in, um, in their in their ml and a I sort of movement or their digital transformation woman, because digital is now, ah, sort off a table steak for all industries. Not only utilities, but all industry. So that's where you know we do a lot off work on what you call, you know, asset predictive maintenance or condition and monitoring or scenario analysis or, you know, dying business to operational data and bringing time sequence data with non time seconds data toe do predictive work. So depending upon the use case, which is on the second side, given that the, you know, the client is already crew in cloud sort of ever cloud savvy. Now they are ready to sort off, you know, use multiple data streams, disconnected data streams to bring them in together to sort of look at you know, how we do production, how we bring in intelligence into the system. Uh, today there is what we call Mawr off predictive prescriptive moral means, you predict, but you're not doing automation on the on the operation. We are trying to edge more and more for customers to look at, not only prediction but using the predictive models to drive automation. Because now, still, the prediction, peace and the automation piece are two separated pieces which a human there is, Ah, human interference there. Who says, Okay, this particular model, what it says, Does it mean that I got toe use that or not? But because the these things are happening at machine speed, some off the corrective measures that we are, you know we're proposing would also eliminate what he called breakdowns, failures so and so forth. So we are. We're in the Prague process. We haven't got to a point where we can take the predictive outcome and drive automation toe through it.

How do you reach out to potential clients? What are the roles of people you reach out to? What are their typical concerns and how do you address them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
So let's do two. Let's break this problem down into two halves. One is marketing when its sales. Um, so the marketing part is a lot off research on on the target clients. Meaning you know, what are the utilities, which you did? This is hurting the most. Which you didn't looking. Toe, sort off. You know, transform. Midget. Lippi has a forward looking C suite. Ah, So there is a whole sort off research piece that goes in tow, identifying the target lines. So that's the and then, uh, because people buy from people, you know, we can have the best solution in in the world. But if you do not have a relationship with the people who are going to buy, then the next piece off that is finding the right connects. Who can work with those people historically, because off our backgrounds and consulting, we have used our own networks to sort of are the conversation. But the scaling of the business, where is done by folks who are interacting directly with these c suite, You know, um, day today. So that's the marketing part off it. The sales part off it is also a little bit off research and a little bit off tuning your framework toward the target client is actually parrot lines identified. Pain Point, meaning that if somebody is looking, Thio is under cost pressures. Looking thio reduce cost, which is a common problem for most industries. But given the pandemic and given the scenario that we are in today, people are looking to cut costs immediately. Ah, lot of the companies are figuring out saying that, Hey, if you want to cut costs, we want to reduce bottom line. Let's let people go. But the utility industry, because it's a Federated industry, letting people go is not the right solution. It is a very small percentage off off the bottom line. So there we go in with what we call short term engagement that can save them money. Well, you know, keep pointing them is here, you know, Just get rid off your infrastructural related cost me. Move what we can under the hyper scaler will optimize your infrastructure for your demand and the savings that you generate. You use that toe drive, more transformation as well as you don't drive your digital agenda. So that's one again. That's only if you know that the C suite is under immense cost pressure by the board of directors by the God one is like I said, folks who have been trying to do a lot of these, you know, Big Data Analytics on Prem. And a lot of the utilities have done that because at that time there was this, uh, this unset barrier that you should not move. Thio allowed for security reasons. There are reasons. So on, so forth now with with both azure on AWS, you know, opening up their dot gov sort off domains on a and making them completely regulated by the government. This is big, much easier. So now we are, you know, for folks who were on on Prem and have done maybe one use cases. But now this want to do more use cases. Those are the people where we go in and consult. Say, hey, you know, do the foundation work for all your big data work and then you can have multiple use cases on the hyper secular so that you're not tied down by the infra or the the packages that you have. So but folks who are using a text tack on prom. We are, You know, we are advising them to sort off use the same sort off, takes tax on on AWS a major, but keeping the, you know, the intake and the output variable so that you can address multiple sort off use cases. So that's the, you know, sort of the overall framework. But given you know what I have seen so far more than my consulting life and in my entrepreneur life relationships are what drive revenue. So if you have the right relationships, that means the right networking. Knowing the right people who are able to move the conversation along and being able tohave open honest conversations with the C suite on bond them being comfortable enough to sort off talk to you about their in points and you being honest and enough to say, Hey, these are things that we can do for you. These are things that you know, we have other partners we can do for you. These are things that we advise you not to do. And what are the sort off honest conversations that drive a lot of business

What are the roles of client's employees you routinely work with? What are the challenges in working with them? What approaches help to overcome challenges?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
The first thing is obviously, you know, like I said, knowing the c suite on, do you know what is their pain Point What is keeping them up? Because if we are not able to address a concern off the C suite, you lose them very quickly because they're always very busy people. And so setting that conversation up saying that Hey, you know, this is what we heard. This is why we think you are having this issue. This is what we can do for you. This is what we have done in other places and keeping it, you know, detailed enough meaning that you do not open the full kimono. But give them a view off. What is the art of the possible and what has been done? So that is the first step off. You know, gaining trust that is, I think, is the biggest challenge. Once you have the trust, then obviously you have more open ended and, you know, honest conversations. Uh, that is I think, you know, the foster and foremost sort of step. The biggest challenge that I I believe and I see an industry all the time is just get a lack off education, um, off what's happening outside their sort off domain or their little world. So a CEO who has just thought off aws being displaced where he goes to by his groceries or his electron ICS? Eleanor Hey, you know, I can run your your enterprise on that and he's not taken the time to educate himself, but as, ah, prejudice towards Hey, you know, we have not done this, so we can't do this. That, I think, is the biggest challenge. So there's a lot off cycles that we as leaders spending trying to educate them on, you know, simplifying concepts, simplifying structures and showing how technology enables business on not only just business. If there is transformation, how does it move the needle forward in terms off where the business can go? So that is, I think, the biggest challenge as well as you know, our way off off addressing that has bean to sort off educate people, you know, just even though we are not selling something, it is more off, you know, meeting them, trying to understand what what they're operating on, what their biggest challenge. Sometimes we will say, you know, this is not something that we can help you with. But, hey, you know, we have this partner who you should talk to our You know, this is something that have you tried to do this at such and such client? That client is not You are not ready. You are not culturally ready to take on the cloud. These are the few things that you've got to put in place. I have these conversations all the time when people say, Hey, come, come and help us with this. And I'll say, you know, it is a new operating model. You have to be able to ready toe, you know, transform yourself into the new operating model. If not, then let's get operating moral organized first before we do the technology people. Because on all in our engagements and that I have done in these 30 years, people are the most difficult positive for technology is the easy part. So every time there is in any of these change you you know, you drive the change with people, make sure that they are up to speed. And that's how the new removed from

What skills and qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
So depending upon where they're coming in on what their potential rollers eso there is again. Like I said, marketing and sales are two different things. So we look at them in two different ways. Eso let me do the easy peace Plus for the sales folks, you know, for beginners. We're just looking at the attitude, the bottle language, being able to be persistent, being ableto, you know, quickly grasp. You know certain words in a conversation which obviously we will train on hate or if the blind is saying exit actually means why and you follow up question should be that. And, you know, if he is not answered your question, then this is another way of asking for it and being ableto, communicate, coming, get welcoming it openly. I'm being able to drive those open under conversations. That's, you know, sales for bigness. Just that and for the you know, the people who really work on on the front end work on commissions for their we're looking at, You know how long he's been in the industry. What kind off, you know, relax. Does he bring to the table? You know what kind of customer relationship she has. What can we leverage short term? What is his borders? Operandi off, opening up new doors. You know, how do they do new logos? So those, you know, those are like the senior and the junior. Those are the two kind off rolls that we look for in the in this sales compass marketing piece again, you know, there are two or three different things that we sort of look for one for Beginners way, actually. Are now looking for folks who understand how toe mind data eso looking at, you know, and export out off linden to sort off come up with their target list. That's what one for Inter's in Terms was just doing this summer. Um, so how you manage data, What are the insights you bring to it? You know, just the data. A virus part of it. I think that's where the, you know, the marketing sort off folks who are who are just coming on board and want toe sort of developed that. That's one piece. The second medial pieces. Um, you know how you take that list off? You've come up with this list then what is the way off approaching the Stargate list. You know what is the messaging? How do you do it? Do you do an email campaign? Do you Do you know, do you go out and are doing webinars? Do you send out your your templates are, you know, things that interested So people who have done this that is like, you know, other people who are like 5 to 10 years on the field. They know how toe off, pique the interest off the potential client with the right sort of messaging. That's this second group. And the third group is taking the output off the second group on being able Thio to sort of open that door for the initial conversation for the sales took up it. And those marketing folks are more off, you know, looking at what group A and Group B have done coming out with a strategy for that targeted climb. So if somebody has said Okay, this is a utility in Texas. They were just acquired. They are under cost Russia. We know this person, this person, and attended one off our webinars. This person is connected to X and y and Z. So the the third or the leader of that marketing group. Basically, it is coming to the States. You can say, Hey, we believe these are the four key contacts in this target customer who should be willing to listen toe these kind of messages. That is the third group. So depending upon where we're hiring and how we are hiring, these are the kind off rules that we look at.

Can you discuss career accomplishment(s) that you feel good about? Please discuss the problem context, your solution, and the impact you made.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
a lot of the work in consulting is not, you know, directly to the The message that they decline is trying to give you it many times. It is looking at things that the client is not telling you. So that, I think, is ah, he, you know, strength off consulting that you are not only able to hear the customer, but you're also able to bring in external viewpoints and data together to come up with view of what is actually that the customer is asking for. Because nine times out of 10 the customer is trying to treat the symptoms on as a as a leader. As, ah, um, consultant, you are more trying to fix the core problem and show him the path forward off how his business can be in that your future or in the future. So depending properly understanding where he is today on what he's saying verses, you know what the actual reality is, showing that to him and then showing him the path forward. That's how most consulting we'd take consulting with management, consulting with people consulting all all of these follow the same path. So my biggest sort off, you know, accomplishment that I think was we were working for, uh, you know, a client in Boston had asked us to come in and look at their service management strategy Service management. Meaning that if you have a problem with your, you know, with a laptop with your you know, your you try to run a sequel. Query. Something did not happen. So if you raise a ticket or a request that, you know, you put into the system and then you know somebody in the contact center, the help does takes care of that problem. Um, so that's, you know, there are obviously, because off the way industry has grown, uh, there are issues with service Mandarin, meaning that, you know, if you are a customer tech, you are always the telephone, and your telephone does not work. That means you lose productivity. So if you can fix that, you know, issue quickly means you get a productive unit back. Right? So, um, they this healthcare client was in the business off insurance, healthcare insurance. So there were a lot off, you know, phone calls, a lot off people asking for resources. And as they had grown very quickly this arrest management more or less was broken there. Already chosen a platform they brought us into Sort off. Kind of say, Hey, can you give us a few bodies to sort of put this place together? Put this, uh, you know, service management tool together, and then we'll take it from there. So once I got in there because more off, you know, relationship call. Then I figured out that it is nothing to do with off their service moment problem. Their problem has bean that they have taken on a whole new set off infrastructure and processes and, you know, do you really creating or bringing on the resources under the new platform? So this group of people who would not know how to use the new platform on this group of people who ever near the company did not know how to use the oil platform so more off a training issue than a serviceman munitions eso again. You know, we obviously way implemented the platform from them. But, you know, we also implemented training programs, you know, Webinars on the mind videos and what was a very small you know, 250 card KR 500 K program become a like $56 billion program for over three years over that period because the guy was dealing with was the CEO that expanded on to a You know you are Guys understand the infrastructure you guys understand. The people in the process is we want to cut costs. Can you talk off how you want to, you know, outsource a lot of that work. So instead, off, you know, talking just service management would became a huge outsource deal, which is about $40 million in five years. So that's one of the few things like I said, nothing to do with what the customer is telling you but trying to understand what the core problems at you giving them a valid option or options. And, you know, being very honest with pros and cons. And, you know, if you do it right, then the relationship prospers, then business. Obviously, the relationship turns to remedy

How has the demand for certain skills and technologies changed in your field? What kind of consultancy work or jobs would see big growth in the upcoming years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
So this is just a personal perspective. Mostly, depending upon you know, where they work will have different opinions. Because I am technology sort off focused. Consultant. I believe artificial intelligence will get embedded in tow. Everything that we do in systems engineering s O. That means a lot off work that will happen in the data and the data related world. So not only bringing in, you know, data sources on having intelligence to sort of connect multiple data centers to come out with certain outcomes. But also training machines toe become quicker, faster on more efficient. And how they come up with these algorithms, meaning that the day is not far off where I can give a a machine is set off algorithms and machine can come up with an algorithm that is best suited for a certain use case. So having said that, you know, I think that's more futuristic, but that that is not far off. So anything that is related with data, I think we'll sort of keep growing. Um, so be it. Marketing the it sails with technology. How you are able to manage how we are able to ingest the data, how you are able to correlate multiple data streams and how you are going to get intelligence out of the data. So initially, at least in, you know, till about five years ago you had a lot of data and information out on that. Now, from information you want intelligence, Toby brought out of that information. And then from that intelligence, you want automation, toe drive, what you want to do in the business system. So what the industry has done so far is has taken data and transferred that into information and from information. You know, some people are doing what you call intelligence and the next step from intelligence Thio automation that peace is where the market is going to go in the next 15 to 20 years. So, in my perspective, if people want to start in consulting, uh, have toe learn data later skills, even if you don't, you know, if you are in systems and you know, you get into what I call or I don't data sciences, then obviously there are algorithms and on our or python other languages that people tend to learn on. I think it becomes simpler as we go, but on a very average level. Even if I have the data in excel, how can I drive? You know, intelligence out of that. How can I bring? I have, you know, data in multiple in social media marketing I tracked If I mind Facebook or a mine Instagram, I I bring that data in in what form and how I can bring intelligence into that and how we can market it if people will, you know, Obviously, people are coming out with your and your ideas. This will continue to grow in the future. So from my perspective, if you want to be in consulting data and data scientists is that is the way to look at.

What college programs did you attend and what were their best parts? How did each of your college programs prepare you for your career?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
question. I personally feel I know because you know, Okay, I My degrees electrical engineer, like Like I said, you know what it does, is it? It allows you to question the status kept and, you know, for you every problem becomes, uh, you know, something that needs to be solved for, uh, so most of the stuff that I didn't, you know, my undergrad or my graduate school other than maybe understanding, you know, gold and how court works. Maybe understanding, you know, how data basis work, or, you know, how you I'm doing a sequel statement. You know, some of the scores, strategies, everything that basically, you know, comes into opportunities or has at least help me in my career. But what has helping my carrier is the is the ability toe. Think given a set off. You know what I call situations? Eso mostly. Once when you're talking to a business leader, he's giving you a business problem. So as a perspective, if you are able to take the business problem and you are, you're able to break it down into areas that you can look at back toe, you know? Come back. I'm sorry. Come back Teoh. You know, holistic view off. What? The problem is, where it is coming from, what could be the possible, you know, areas of concern. One of the space of looking at it, I think. Then, you know, that comes from being, uh, you know, being able to answer questions and engineering field on accounting field, or for if you have the ability to sort off being open minded, being ableto wash to the status quo, you know, on being able to bring multiple, you know, facets off information together. I think that's what is more required in consulting than that appear for off, you know, uh, degree, But again, you know, because you guys Aaron, MBA business administration is a lot off, you know, looking at situational data and and figuring out ways off. You know what could be, you know, areas off approach. I think that's that is you know what is needed? Input something

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
three life lessons that you learn in your carrier. Okay, All three are very cliche. But, you know, I still have to say it. Wow. I think you know, as we get engaged, everybody, when they're young, they forget about their health. So what would you do? Your health is your concern, and nobody else's. So lifeless is number one first health than wealth. Life lesson number two, you know, opportunities, you know, president themselves in multiple ways. Um, if you are unsure off certain things but still want to do it, you know, I would say, go ahead and pursue that, Uh, most of time, you know, a conversation or a network contact out of the blue, Mr. Something that you know is actually you're calling. So be open toe, you know, opportunities that are not completely well formed. And you know, you what I call discover and do so That is be open toe. You know, new options is number two, uh, number three again. You know, you guys are all young, but I think in the consulting work, you know, work life balance becomes very, very, very difficult. Meaning, you know, at least Attila before the pandemic hit. I was in the road almost every week. Uh, eso work like valleys becomes very difficult, sort trying to find a happy medium so that you know, you your work life balance is at least at the same level where you are able to take care of your family responsibilities as well a z your world responsibly. So I think, you know, like all three are very cliche, but they're very, very true. Yeah, well, what experience? Being facing adversity. Adversity, You know, being in the U. S. I think you know, looking at you, I'm I'm guessing you are from India. Um, one of the things that I tell most people here is that the average guy in in the United States gets three pink slips are in a scarier. That's the interest Six or something. Eso Even in my career when you know I have had one pink slip Uh uh, yeah, rich. But what it has done, is it kind off, you know, gives you that opportunity to look at Hey, what's the market willing to give more for me. And every time this has happened, my market value has actually gone up rather than down s o. I have always been open to you know, these kind off. You know what I call professional adversities in that, you know, these things will come. You learn from your old job and you move on to the other. But, you know, I see it because of this pandemic. A lot of my time is talking toe some off my juniors who have been furloughed. We're losing jobs, you know, you have the opportunities is right on the corner. It takes just one so that adversity and being able to face that with an open sort of frame off mine, it brings in a better opportunity. Uh, you know, in the future, that's the way I have looked at it.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Tue Oct 13 2020
I know it's a difficult thing to sort off, you know, have, ah, a general sort of world plan. But I feel there are two sort of groups of people. One group of people are, you know, they come from what I call entrepreneur backgrounds or in their heart of hearts. They're entrepreneur in nature, you know, they may not the right training. Or then they may not be in the right time in their lives. Toe start on enterprise. Um, but there, you know, in their heart, off us and, you know, their mind works in innovative ways. They they're always thinking off. You know, if this problem is solved, what is the market value? What is the business value? Uh, those people, I think you know, it is better for them to start in a smaller company. Uh uh. The changes is very quick. People are attracted to that change. There is always, you know, this distension of a startup for a small company that Hey, we You know, if we don't sell this, we you know there's no revenue or we don't do this. We don't get that. Also, they're constantly evaluating multiple choices. And you know being in that group of people or that frame of mind sort of planes them to look at adversity in a way that's more positive than negative. So that's one group of people I'll say, if you are, you know, in your in your heart you are entrepreneur in uh, in that frame of mind, you should start with a smaller country for people who you know, a lot of us think off off. Being what you call successful in life is, you know, having a good position with money off. And it's it's, you know, it's it's common for most folks. They feel like they you know, you have Ah, big house, your vic card. You you're a president or a vice plan your CEO somewhere you are successful for those kind of people. I I advise, you know, larger companies because then you have ah, structured way off life you have, you know, most of the time it is time based promotions. It's you know, the company does well. They're doing well. Any slowly progress through through life, too. You get where you know you you get to a point where you are really capable, So beginning upon your frame of mind. Those are the two advices that I would give One is you know, if your internal go for a smaller company startup, it could be, you know, some risks involved. But you know, if you're single, you are able to rise in this capital. It start up smaller companies. If you are in all risk, the worst you want tohave. Ah, you know, a study sort of growth and margin.