Anita Balaraman

Anita Balaraman is a lecturer at the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, and an Adjunct Faculty at Carnegie Mellon University teaching technology product management and project management. She is a toxicologist and a technologist, passionate about teaching, and curious about the intersection of the future of work, learning, education, and AI/ML technology.

She is a technology product manager with deep experience in building AI/ML products for Walmart Labs, and Cisco Systems. She developed the first quantitative risk-based simulation model for health risk assessment that was implemented by the U.S. Navy. She later leveraged her statistical skills as the lead software product manager at Walmart Labs building a technically complex NLP platform for search and omnichannel experience. She was invited by GS-1, a global standards organization, to be a keynote speaker in recognition of the complex ontology and standards developed. She joined Cisco Systems as the Head of Customer Experience Digital Solutions launching the first cross-architecture, industry solutions. She continues to consult independently on product strategy and new product development with Fortune 100 companies and Startups.

She began studying the characteristics of mentoring programs that benefit (and not) women, racial/ethnic minorities, first-generation college students. From her research, she found the role of near-peer role models to be powerful when relevant to a student’s interests in discovering and persisting in STEM based academic-career paths.

Growing up as a girl in a traditional, modest household in South India, being an entrepreneur was not an occupational identity she knew: “I didn’t believe that because I didn’t see it.” Education, she believes should not be a privilege that promotes and perpetuates inequality, but rather a way to expand opportunity for all.

Research Interests: Mentoring, STEM, Role Models, ML/NLP, skills ontology

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