Dr. Durrel Ramrathan
AI & Analytics Leader, MultiChoice
Dr. Durrel Ramrathan drives innovation at the heart of MultiChoice, Africa’s leading video entertainment company. His responsibilities include leading the analytics and machine learning teams within Customer Operations, which are focused on driving advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities to improve the customer experience.
Considering himself a business translator between business needs and analytics teams, he always ensures that his teams add value. In order to achieve this, he must also be an enabler for people and motivate them, to ensure that they remain a happy, high-performing team.
Top level consulting experience at IBM
Ramrathan spent his early career consulting for MultiChoice while he was working at IBM, leading their AI capability.
“I did lots of consulting engagements at MultiChoice. I think the thing that impressed me while I was consulting was the culture they drive to provide people the autonomy to express themselves through their work.
“Another important thing that impressed me was the people. It was an amazing bunch of people that we engaged with, who provided IBM with great insight into what the leadership at MultiChoice was like. That intense focus on the leadership team’s responsibilities to their people drew me to work for MultiChoice,” says Ramrathan.
For those aspiring to work in analytics and artificial intelligence
Ramrathran has driven thinking about how AI is used in business through his PhD studies, which at that stage, was actually focused on pioneering the use of AI in business and the implications on how humans make decisions.
As an academic contributor with a number of journal papers around advanced analytics and human intuition and how they relate to AI and its implementation in business, Ramrathan comments that lots of the theory exists on how these technologies work, but very little regarding implementation. As a coach and mentor himself, what advice would he give to those interested in his field?
“It's important to get out of your comfort zone. In this space, we generally get a mix of quite technical people. I think in order to progress, you need to be able to translate these technical terms to business terms. You may be working on something that may to yourself be really valuable, but if you struggle to translate that and convey that in terms of business value, you will find it hard to get that idea off the ground. I think lots of us neglect that fact. Essentially we need to become trusted advisors to the business, and data analytics and machine learning as tools are some of the strongest levers that a business has. Successful translation of this work can work as great leverage in ensuring people understand what you do and the value you’re able to add,” says Ramrathan.
MultiChoice career highlights
The relationship between Ramrathan and MultiChoice has been built on trust. Nothing typifies this more than the advanced analytics and machine learning capability within customer operations, that he came in to build from scratch.
“I think that was a major highlight. MultiChoice gave me confidence that I would be able to do that, which has paid dividends in the end,” he says.
Ramrathan and his team recently won the MultiChoice Group award for Innovation of the Year, which leads him to highlight the people he works with in the business every single day: “When one of my team managers won Employee of the Year, that was a big highlight for me. It’s so great seeing my people succeed.
“We enable our people to deliver not only from a work environment, but holistically for themselves as well, to give them a sense of accomplishment,” he adds.
“And in terms of our customers, we are really able to see the impact of what we deliver; from inception to production. We feel we are impacting customers in a positive way each and every day.”.
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