I’m excited to share this interview with the newest addition to our team of AI data experts! Hilary Shirey comes to LXT with a decade of AI data experience working with leading tech companies to help them build reliable data pipelines. I sat down with Hilary to learn more about her background and her new role at LXT.
Service Delivery Director
Country of origin
Years working in the AI data industry
Favorite AI application
Alexa – I use it all the time at home for weather updates, cooking tips and even celebrity trivia!
Tell me a bit about your background. How did you end up in the field of AI training data?
Prior to working in the training data industry, I was in the education space. I wanted to make a career change and a friend mentioned that there was an opening at the company she worked for that was focused on providing data for companies building AI solutions. It sounded really interesting and something I might be qualified for, so I applied. Two weeks later, I was hired!
Before working as a project manager in the AI data field, I was an Assistant Director/Account Manager for a company that provided an online service for schools through a web-based system. My role was to nurture and retain client relationships, as well as host webinars and train clients. I was also part of the customer care team that received any incoming queries. I traveled a lot and led presentations and trainings at schools and education conferences.
Prior to that role, I worked for a nurse agency where I did HR work for agency and travel nurses. I onboarded new hires and made sure they had all the appropriate compliance paperwork, certifications and vaccines required to begin work. In addition to onboarding, I processed payroll for all the nurses. I was one of the only people that had ever actually worked with Microsoft Office (in college) back in those days so I also trained everyone else in the office how to use it once the team got our first personal computers. Early tech support!
The experience from these two roles really set me up for success in the AI/tech field and the role of project manager. I had the HR background with field employees needed from the nurse agency to understand how to effectively manage contractors, as well as the technical customer service background with the school company and hundreds of hours logged in training and presentations to assist me in effectively managing projects and contractors in the AI projects. These skillsets really helped me thrive in the associate project manager role.
Once I began to work as a project manager in AI, I felt I had found my niche and my home. I greatly enjoyed the technical work and the clients we had the opportunity to work with. I also have the opportunity to grow my career and become a leader and mentor so many great people.
Over the past 10 years you’ve seen managed many AI projects. Can you give me some examples?
My experience working with global tech leaders to build reliable AI data pipelines has given me exposure to many different AI use cases. For example, I’ve led a variety of search relevance projects to improve the user experience for social media platforms. I’ve also managed data collection projects to collect speech and video clips which help improve AI’s ability to recognize sound and video, and junk and spam identification projects to help remove this content from websites. These are just some of the many projects I’ve led, working with hundreds of contributors across many language locales.
Global tech leaders recognize the importance of human feedback in building responsible and reliable AI solutions, including working with diverse groups of contributors to create their data pipelines. I’m excited to continue these efforts in my new role at LXT.
What is one of the most challenging AI data projects you’ve worked on?
In one project, our contributors were instructed to identify a particular emotion in a video and then tag the video as that emotion. We learned very quickly that emotion can be very subjective to the individual person, yet we still had a quality metric to hit! It was quite challenging to achieve the quality goal, but by working very closely with our client we were able to get enough agreement via guideline modifications to build a good algorithm.
You recently joined LXT. What aspects of the company were appealing to you?
I really enjoy working in the AI data space and knew that I wanted to continue building my career in this field. When the Service Delivery Director role at LXT became available, I was intrigued based on what I had heard about the company and its growth over the past couple of years. As I met with different leaders at LXT I learned more about the people-centric culture and strong company values that aligned very well to what I was looking for in my opportunity. The role itself was also a good fit for my skills and experience, and I am excited to help LXT continue its strong growth journey.
What are the key aspects of your role at LXT?
As a Service Delivery Director, I am responsible for building and developing a high-performing project management team to ensure that we continue to delight our clients. This includes identifying opportunities for process improvement and applying industry best practices to our workflows. Day in and out, everything I do is geared towards serving our customers and building strong client relationships.
What advice do you have for companies working in AI when it comes to their data strategy?
The AI industry is constantly changing. Agility is key. What you do today will change a few years from now. It’s good to remember that each stage is temporary and be able to maintain agility around the solutions that are built.
When dealing with a new or experimental project or a new type of data, initial pilot projects with seasoned contributors are a must. Small iterations are the key to a successful larger project run that maximizes value.