How Lakshmi transformed from dentist to data analyst


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Lakshmi Venkatesh was introduced to the basics of yoga by her mother when she was barely six. At 43, what has changed is the complexity of the asanas she performs. What has not changed is her drive to learn and master new asanas every time she rolls out a yoga mat on the floor. This is the same mantra she follows in her professional life. She likes to keep learning.

Lakshmi did her Bachelor’s in dental science from Bapuji Dental College and Hospital, Davangere, in 2000. She ran a dental clinic for eight years in Bengaluru. The monotony of root canals and tooth extraction nudged her to get her teeth into something new. So, she tried her hand at a course in hospital management and then a two-year course in clinical research. “I always liked to study. Till today, if you give me a new thing to learn, I will go for it because of the sheer joy of learning something new and not solely because it will lead to advancement in career,” she says.

Lakshmi bagged a job at healthcare solutions firm Indegene as an analyst during placements towards the end of the clinical research course in 2009. In her first assignment, she along with her teammates built a platform, Trialpedia, which acted as a repository of all clinical trial data. Lakshmi’s domain expertise helped her interpret clinical data and helped crucially in creating this tool. “The platform made clinical trial analysis very fast and it helped clients make quick decisions,” she says.

One has to keep learning because without depth in a specific domain, data is not going to be useful.

After nearly three years of working on the Trialpedia project, Lakshmi delved into the world of data analytics and worked on various projects for pharma companies. In the last two years, she has been working in the niche area of patient analytics, which she volunteered to work on because this was a new area of learning for her. The nature of work was exacting, and Lakshmi not only had to learn, but also had to ensure that her team performed well.

“Because of my understanding of life sciences, when I look at data, I am able to derive insights quickly and put it in perspective,” she says. This domain expertise, combined with the technology skills she picked up at Indegene, have enabled her to come up with a range of innovative solutions. “One has to keep learning because without depth in a specific domain, data is not going to be useful,” she says.

Lakshmi, who is now senior manager of data & analytics at Indegene, is currently pouring over content online to get a grasp of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Lakhsmi says she’s thrilled about the prospects of AI’s endless possibilities.

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