Alexis Stroud, an AI Visionary at Boehinger-Ingelheim, is quick to admit she wasn’t an early adopter to AI. But now that she’s on board, she can’t imagine going back. She sat down with us to share her perspectives on AI for the compliance space, choosing the right technology partner, and more.
What are some of the structural barriers that keep your industry from adopting new technologies? How and why did you take an interest in AI?
Commonly cited barriers to the adoption of new technologies would be cost, resources, and user skill sets. However, the biggest barrier to adoption has been the stories we tell ourselves with respect to these three categories. Often, we tell ourselves that the technology would be too expensive, would require too many resources to implement, and that we just don’t have the right skillsets in house to manage the technology efficiently and effectively—all of which are obstacles that we can overcome with some research and a little experience with AI.
My interest in AI stems from wanting to figure out how we can use data to inform the work that we do. My goal is to manage risk and align resources to the highest areas of risk in the organization. So, I want to utilize analytics to highlight areas of concern, identify root causes of matters, and identify areas of risk to enable smarter mitigation strategies and better strategic decisions. Our companies have a lot of data and we do not have infinite resources, so how do we use the resources that we have to focus on the highest risks to the organization? I feel I was a late adopter when it comes to AI, honestly. As a compliance professional, I couldn’t understand how AI worked and therefore, I didn’t believe it could do what companies purported it could—especially in the early days of predictive analytics. It seemed very Minority Report to me. However, I have come around, and now realize that although I may not fully understand the inner workings and technical aspects of AI, I have seen the value that it can create.
How can technologies like AI help you uncover more value, and how?
AI technologies can find patterns in massive amounts of data and across disparate data sets. This can produce insights that a human brain would not be able to uncover. It also allows you to identify risks that you may not have been aware of that can then be quickly remediated before they become more problematic. It goes beyond the typical descriptive analytics that we may be used to, i.e., using historical data to learn from events that have already happened. Predictive analytics can go further by giving you an idea of how likely it is that an event or outcome will happen based on the current situation, using data across various sources to discover relevant relationships and identify trends.
I feel I was a late adopter when it comes to AI, honestly. As a compliance professional, I couldn’t understand how AI worked and therefore, I didn’t believe it could do what companies purported it could—especially in the early days of predictive analytics. It seemed very Minority Report to me. However, I have come around, and now realize that although I may not fully understand the inner workings and technical aspects of AI, I have seen the value that it can create.
Embracing technology is one thing, but finding the right partner is quite another. What do you look for in a reliable technology partner?
First and foremost, I look for a technology partner who has the experience in implementing the technology and can provide best practices in the configuration and management of the solution. Then I look at how they would partner with us—and that is the real differentiator, for me, between providers. I like to look at us as a team, and the foundation of any strong, high-performing team is trust. Who can I trust to give me honest answers to what the technology and the team are capable of? Who can understand my user requirements and translate them effectively into system requirements? Who will proactively come to me with challenges and solutions?
What project or major milestone that you completed at Boehringer-Ingelheim are you most proud of? Can you provide details?
I have been at Boehringer-Ingelheim since 2019, and one project that I am proud of is the development and implementation of a compliance analytics and risk management tool. This system has been integral in moving our program to being data-led and risk-based. There are so many benefits to this system, but in the end, put simply, it has made us more efficient and effective.
What were your interests early on and what drew you to this line of work?
My career has been a rock wall. As a child, I thought I would be an astronaut or veterinarian. Then I went to undergraduate school for psychology and sociology, and ended up in law school. I tell my kids to follow their passions and their success will follow. Having passion in what I do has been the biggest driver in my career decisions. When my kids ask what is it that I do, I tell them I help make medicines safe and effective and drive innovation in healthcare for patients—because we are all consumers of healthcare, and we all deserve safe and effective treatments.
What do you do when you are not working? How do you decompress?
When I am not working, I am usually running around to the kids’ activities, being a doting mom. I look forward to our family vacations each year. We all love to travel and see the world. We also enjoy visiting the national and state parks, usually by tent camping. I feel strongly that when you take time off from work, you actually need to shut down and be present in your time off. Rest, relax, and recharge.
Which person (living or deceased) do you most admire? Why?
There are so many people that I admire who have made a difference in the world, but when I think about who I most admire, it would be my parents. I know I am referring to two people, but it would be hard to single out one over the other because they both have instilled in me the characteristics that I have today.
From my dad, I’ve learned the value of hard work and doing it well. From my mom, I’ve learned the importance of family and doing the right thing. Moreover, both believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and made me realize that I really could do anything if I put my mind to it. They are both my heroes.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Why?
I never really thought about this before. I am not sure I really identify with any specific historical figure. However, I do like quoting Theodore Roosevelt, so I suppose I align with his mindset. In the end, I just try to be a better version of me day to day and make a difference in the lives of those who I touch.
What do you consider the most underrated quality or skill? Why?
There are so many skills that are important, however, I feel the most underrated skill is listening to understand. Often we only listen to respond, if we are listening at all.