Ai Allies – Samantha Sosa
For many people working in the STEM field, Haiti may not seem like a country that appeals to young talent or act as a base for tech-focused organisations. But for Samantha Sosa, a Fintech & Banking Legal Advisor who also acts as a technology thought-leader in the country, nowhere could be a better for creating opportunities and forging a successful career as a young woman.
Alongside her full-time role with AIC, Samantha is also a regular contributor to the prominent Haitian newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, covering the most pertinent issues in tech today. From analysing Blockchain applications and delivering Metaverse deep-dives, Samantha is a shining example of how a young woman can thrive in the STEM field.
Her induction to the industry was inspired during her studies in France, where she completed her degree and masters in Lille and Nice and had exposure to developing technologies as part of her banking and legal curriculum.
“I was always 100% focused on law and I always wanted to be a lawyer, but when I was exposed to disruptive technologies in the economic space, I thought it was really interesting, especially as a lot of the opportunities that they could offer would be most impactful in developing countries such as Haiti.”
“I learned about blockchain, algorithmic trading, tokenomics, smart cities which represented an intersection between law and tech. Being able to apply my passion for law and my newly found inspiration in technology was an important moment for me. I knew what I wanted to do.”
Following the completion of her masters, Samantha moved into an internship with a bank.
“It wasn’t for me! The bank was based in Monaco and I was part of the legal department there. As much as I enjoyed working with the team, I was working on things that were really standardised and set in stone. That wasn’t interesting to me, I wanted to learn about cutting-edge technology and I wanted to make significant changes to my place of work and community.”
“That is why I decided to move back to Haiti, even though everybody advised me against it.”
Samantha was able to secure a full-time position with a tech-focused insurance company in her home country, immediately joining the executive management team at AIC, where she has spent the past year. The role has afforded her the opportunity to pursue innovation and help to drive digital transformation.
“We work hard to create new products that suit and help people in Haiti. We also pursue new opportunities with affiliated companies with a focus on technology and its impact on the quality and efficiency of our services. I was also connected to Artificial Solutions through my research into Conversational AI, which is an area that we would like to develop this year alongside a range of other next-gen technologies.”
The role provides Samantha with an opportunity to pursue her interests and grow professionally, something that represents the very best of the STEM field.
“I never thought I would be where I am today. But I followed my curiosity and had a clear goal when thinking about what I wanted to achieve. We spend more time working than anything else, especially as a young person, so you have to find something that you enjoy otherwise you’re going to be miserable for most of the time you have!”
Working in Tech as a Woman
The disruptive force of technology has changed the world immeasurably over the past twenty years and to Samantha, the increasing rate of innovation represents a critical issue for women around the world to be aware of.
“Now, we have the power to create a better world on an individual and collective level and that is why we need to get as many women as we can into the STEM sector. The issue shouldn’t be seen as a ‘nice to have’ or simply a benefit that the industry can enjoy. This is a necessary action.”
“We have already seen how dangerous biases in Ai can be, so if we don’t get representation right at this point, at a relatively early stage of the Ai sector in particular, we’re not going to have the outcomes we want, such as greater gender equitable screening processes.”
For Samantha, the journey has been helped by the people that surrounded her while at university, especially the women who taught her about emerging technologies.
“I was surrounded by knowledgeable and inspiring women such as Professor Marina Teller, Director of the Deep Law for Tech (DL4T) Chair of Scientific Excellence in Economic Law and Artificial Intelligence. It is part of the Deep Tech movement. It responds, from a scientific and normative point of view, to the need for innovative ‘Legal Frameworks’ required by the emerging ‘Technological Frameworks’.
“So, I was very lucky to have role models I could learn from. I think that we need as many figures as possible in the STEM sector to help in the same way, to give opportunities and to advocate for others.”
“Unfortunately, I still get a few funny looks when I walk into a meeting and take the lead when discussing technology and its implementation, but within AIC I am extremely lucky as we have full parity across the organisation with eight women and eight men sitting on the executive management team.”
An internal survey of AIC revealed that 64% of the business was made up of women, highlighting the positive initiative the organisation has in relation to representation.
However, this is not a figure regularly reflected across the industry, highlighting the ongoing importance of International Women’s Day and initiatives to improve gender balance.
“The issue still exists after International Women’s Day is over, so we need to keep talking about it and put a spotlight on it every day. The industry has recognized an imbalance exists but we need to keep pushing and bringing more women in. Being part of projects such as AiAllies is a great way to help.”
For Samantha, though problems remain, the STEM sector represents the most exciting and opportunity driven industry for women to succeed within.
“You can construct your own path in this field. There is no limit on what you can achieve if you follow your curiosity with drive and passion. I loved technology and law and here I am, a few years after graduating university, in a role that would not have existed until recently. You can achieve what you want, you just need to have belief.”