Office Hours: I’m the Global Head of Intelligent Automation at Spotify and I’ve helped several Fortune 250 companies achieve seven figure cost savings. I’m Sidney Madison Prescott. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

I’m Sidney Madison Prescott. I’m the Global Head of Intelligent Automation at Spotify, where I lead the global strategic vision & execution of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects.

I started my career as an Asset and Configuration Management intern at the world’s largest payment solutions provider. The lessons learned during my time as an intern would be known as the start of my career as a technologist.

Relatively early in my career, I held the position of Vice President of Intelligent Process Automation at BNY Mellon, where I partnered with internal business units to strategize ways to transform business processes through robotic automation. After spending the past few years of my career in the cognitive automation space, I know what drives successful global robotics implementations, and my teams have excelled at delivering projects resulting in a seven-figure return on investment stats for Fortune 250 companies across the globe.

I’m passionate about philanthropic causes as a board member for Habitat for Humanity. I’ve also been listed among the Top 50 Tech Visionaries in 2021 by Intercon Global and selected as a 2022 Georgia State University 40 Under 40 nominee. In addition, I am a best-selling author of the book, Robotic Process Automation using UiPath StudioX: A Citizen Developer’s Guide to Hyperautomation. The book allows readers to leverage hands-on examples to explain the basis of UiPath through the use of real-world prototypes. I have also been published in several academic journals, including an essay in the PLOS Computational Biology Journal entitled Responses to 10 Common Criticisms of Anti-Racism Action in STEMM.

In terms of my academic background, I hold a BA in Philosophy with a double minor in Political Science & Ethics (Pre-Law) along with Honors, Advanced Honors & Research Honors from Georgia State University and an Executive MBA as a part of Brenau University’ inaugural Executive Women’s MBA program, the first program of its kind in the United States. In addition, I am currently working on my third degree, a Master of Science in Legal Studies, at Cornell Law School.

I currently reside in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with two small dogs, Addison and Grey-Sloan, and I’m an avid snowboarder and regular spin class attendee. Here is my IG handle: sidneyandthecity

Ask me anything about working with onshore & offshore engineering teams, automation implementations, the future of work, women in STEM, management advice, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @sidneyprescott!Elphas – please ask @sidneyprescott your questions before Friday, February 25th. @sidneyprescott may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Sidney, what an interesting background! I'm curious how you made the transition from politics to tech. Also, given your unique background, I'd love to hear your perspectives about ethics + ML/AI. I'm studying/entering the field of data science & ML and think a lot about how the technology moves so much faster than the ethical considerations of how we use or can use the technology. What do you think technologists in the ML/AI space should do to make sure their work is ethical? How should they think about issues they are aware of and anticipate complications that don't yet exist and/or they haven't yet thought of?
@maggiewolff I was interested in politics, specifically local state government early in my undergraduate career. I was an intern at the Georgia House of Representatives and I also assisted several aspiring political campaigns. I transitioned to technology during the latter half of my undergraduate experience through a Configuration & Asset Management internship. Initially, I was brought into the internship to review software contracts for discrepancies, with a focus on driving down costs for the enterprise. However, I soon found myself engaged in global automation projects with my fellow team members in our software & infrastructure organization and the rest is history.In terms of ethics and AI, I am a philosopher at heart (BA in Philosophy and double minor in Ethics & Political Science) and I firmly believe as a society we give too little attention to the importance the study of ethics has on the lives of human beings. Particularly given the acceleration and integration of technology into our daily lives.From a technologist standpoint, I believe individuals working in tech should do their best to understand the basic principles of business ethics (provides modalities of thinking in relation to acceptable behaviors/practices/doctrines outside of the purview of the government), in order to ensure corporate activities promote employee integrity and the establishment of consumer & business stakeholder trust and avoid the negative ramifications of unethical actions in the enterprise. The key component for success would be understanding your own implicit and explicit biases, and how those biases might inadvertently color employee-to-employee relationships, product/software development, the creation of internal policies, and ways of working across global teams.
Hi @sidneyprescott, Super impressive career! Any books or resources you recommend for implementing AI in Intelligent automation for businesses? Also what's the one piece of advice you may give your younger self?
@aardra I'll shamelessly plug my own book on business citizen developers in the intelligent automation landscape, which was released May of 2021 entitled; "Robotic Process Automation Using UiPath StudioX: A Citizen Developer's Guide to Hyperautomation" Book website: book is for RPA developers and business users alike, bringing the power and skill set of automation to anyone interested in citizen-led development, specifically UiPath StudioX. The simple exercises and no-code platform require no prior programming or RPA knowledge to follow along. In terms of advice, I'd give my younger self, I'd tell myself to ignore the negative pressure received from male colleagues in relation to my desire to be a technologist and a senior leader. More specifically, I'd tell myself to tune out the noise from less ambitious individuals and to trust my intuition and personal grit to guide me. Throughout my career, I've faced some less than ideal pressure to leave the technology industry. Why? Because I did not fit in with the status quo of what a technologist looks like, nor did I meet the assumptions of what technologists traditionally study in college. The reception I receive (and sometimes still deal with across different forums) is disappointing, to say the least. However, the negative experiences I had while pursuing my career goals served a purpose. They helped me understand why women (and more specifically women of color) are an outlier in the industry, and why professional mentorship is so incredibly important for individuals from historically marginalized populations who are pursuing a career in technology.
Hi Sydney,Impressive and inspiring career and life.Can you talk more about how you transitioned to your current role: what skills or areas of focus do you recommend for somebody with a technical background to get closer to a role like this.Thank you!
@Catherin3 I have focused extensively on curating two major components throughout my career, hands-on enterprise experience (with a primary focus on becoming a technology leader), and academic knowledge of business methodologies via the completion of the country's first women-only Executive MBA program. My goal was to become equally adept at being a technologist and a businesswoman, therefore I felt it important to continue my formal education after my first degree. I would recommend someone with a technical background continue to enhance their knowledge of emerging technologies in their respective verticals of the industry while simultaneously building out a strong knowledge of business practices with a focus on digital transformation. Why? Every firm, at every stage of maturity, craves the perfect balance of process efficiency, seamless execution, and delivery. In addition, every firm typically contains a mix of business professionals and technology professionals. As a technologist, if you can learn to speak the language of the business it enables you to become an engineer with the ability to lead cross-functional teams. This is a vital skill set in a leadership role. It is rare to work as a tech leader without some level of engagement with your company's business counterparts. The stronger your expertise is in relation to curating relationships with the business, the more likely it is that you will be a vital asset to any tech leadership team.
Thank you Sidney. Great advice. It is easy to focusing only on the technical side and neglecting the business side and curating relationships.
Hi Sidney, Thank you for making yourself available here for questions. I have been contacted by a SAAS management start-up (Series B) that is in growth mode for a role in their Marketing department. The company provides an AI-driven solution for helping IT departments better oversee all the apps and platforms their company is using or subscribed to. "shadow IT" is the phrase most used in this space apparently.My question: is this a viable and long-term concept, or need, in global businesses? Is SAAS management a "thing" and a growing need that IT and Operations folks know about? I come from fintech and certainly we use many, many tools company wide. But from your perspective, where is SAAS management going?
@marcellarica I believe SaaS management has the potential to become a widely expansive offering in the next 3-5 years. Why? Countless companies are leveraging SaaS solutions and many of the same companies are also looking for ways to provide better management of everything from user credentials, to security alerting against potential cyber-attacks, to the ways users interface with the SaaS application (this is where intelligent automation comes into play). The challenge with SaaS solutions is the loss of control companies experience as a customer of an external platform. It becomes difficult to understand when updates will occur to SaaS solutions and how the updates will impact existing integrations, the user interface, and any existing automations running against the SaaS solution. The Intelligent Automation landscape is set to grow dramatically in the next few years, meaning even more companies will have a desire to run robots and machine learning models against existing SaaS solutions.I believe a SaaS management platform could potentially provide firms with better insights into how changes pushed from the vendor side will impact the existing internal landscape. But only if the tool features a combination of robust partnerships with SaaS providers and intuitive features to facilitate ease of use by an IT/Operations team. The last thing any support function desires is another clunky tool that makes it harder to conduct business as usual.
Thank you so much, @sidneyprescott. I appreciate the deeper insights related to control, updates, and automation as they apply to those IT and Operations teams. Thank you again.