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Leila Islam

Leila Islam

I became fascinated by the impact of artificial intelligence on business in my first job

After graduating with a degree in Applied Mathematics from Harvard, I started my career in consulting at McKinsey. I liked the McKinsey way of thinking, and it gave me the opportunity to get under the skin of a range of different businesses. During my two years at McKinsey, I focused primarily on tech-related projects, and in the second year a lot of the questions from clients started to shift to data analytics and machine learning. I became more curious about this new trend and decided to postpone business school to focus on AI, a topic that I could see was going to be integral to virtually all businesses. I spent a year at Oxford doing a Masters in Artificial Intelligence, working alongside DeepMind.

It’s easy to criticize large organizations until you’ve worked in one

After business school, I was at a crossroads between continuing in academia and gaining operational experience. I decided to join Facebook as part of the team that led M&A for its Commerce unit. It was a pivotal time in the history of the firm, and it made me understand how incredibly hard it is to run a company well. It made me appreciate organizational complexity in large companies to an extent that I hadn’t as a consultant or an investor. It also helped me understand at a very detailed level how large strategics think about M&A and value creation, something that I lean on often in my current role.