The Humans Behind the Bots: Abhilasha Roy

At Rasa, our team is building the standard infrastructure for conversational AI. Behind the scenes, the people of Rasa come together from diverse backgrounds to solve today’s most interesting challenges in NLP and dialogue. We’re pulling back the curtain to highlight a few of the humans behind the bots.

Today we’re talking with Abhilasha Roy, Senior Product Designer at Rasa. We’ll learn Abhilasha’s story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies she’s passionate about.  

Hi, Abhilasha. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?

Hi!

I grew up in India, frequently moving cities all my life.

After completing my Bachelors in Communication Design, I spent five years with Sprinklr as a Senior Experience Designer and led UX on many interesting products accessed by global clients including Nike, Mcdonald's, Dell, Intel, Virgin America, and Samsung.

Way before I had discovered that I loved design, I knew that my favorite thing about my life was the fact that I was constantly moving. So, in 2017, I became a location-independant freelancer.

For a year and a half, I travelled the world while contributing to various projects. It was then that I came to Berlin and it quickly became my favorite city.

I was beginning to look for opportunities here when I stumbled upon Rasa. I had no experience with AI or ML at that point, and it was a brilliant opportunity to learn!

Take us through a typical day as a Product Designer. What types of projects do you work on?

My very first project was to help design Rasa X as well as to create from scratch the design system that it currently uses.

Now, most of my time on an average day is dedicated to improving Rasa X as a product.

Depending on the day and the stage of a project/feature, I could be collecting and consolidating product feedback, identifying friction points that our users may be facing, ideating on solutions, or designing new features from scratch.

I also spend time thinking about our design system, and making sure the experience across Rasa X is consistent and user friendly.

Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?

Like all product designers, I love solving problems and I’m motivated by the challenges and constraints that come with them.
I doubt I will ever tire of learning about human behaviour or trying to interpret it.

I also love delightful interfaces!

What’s an important problem you’re solving at Rasa?

We know that the most efficient way to improve an assistant is to help it learn from real conversations that testers and end-users have with it. However, reviewing real conversations can be a time consuming and ambiguous process for developers and teams, especially if the assistant has thousands of conversations each day.

One of the things I have been working on most recently is to help make this experience of reviewing conversations at scale more efficient for users of Rasa X.

Another really interesting challenge that I am beginning to work on is providing new users of Rasa a way to quickly and easily prototype a simple assistant that solves a use case of their choosing.

The first way we addressed this challenge was creating the Rasa Basics tutorial, which can be found in our docs. These tutorials are the most common gateways to Rasa for developers, and we want to ensure that they are as simple and effective as they can be.

While following a tutorial and creating a generic assistant teaches developers about how Rasa works, being able to add their own use case to the mix would help them see their own idea in action while introducing them to the product. As a phase 2, we’re thinking about ways to go beyond documentation and add prototyping capabilities within the product.

How would you describe Rasa in three words?

Intelligent. Kind. Ambitious

How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?

The Product Design team works closely with Product Management and the Engineering team. We collaborate with Product Management during user research, consolidating and prioritizing product feedback etc. and with engineering during the implementation of features and improvements. We also receive tons of valuable insights and feedback from our solutions engineers, who are constantly in touch with customers and have a strong understanding of how our customers interact with our products.

What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?

That the team here is a really great mix of different perspectives, backgrounds and skill sets. Each person brings a unique perspective to the table because of who they are, and each person values and respects this uniqueness in everybody else.

Here at Rasa, people are aware that to be able to create a product that works well for everybody, a team needs to integrate as many diverse perspectives as possible.

How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?

Considering I come from a design background and had no prior experience as a developer, designing for developers has been constantly challenging and interesting for me. It keeps me motivated and learning new things every day.

Helping design Rasa X and seeing it slowly take shape and become the product it is now has also been an incredible experience. There’s so much more to be done, and yet I’m very proud already!

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned lately?

As a relative newbie to artificial intelligence and machine learning, I find these topics to be full of curiosities! It’s hard to say what is most interesting since I like reading a lot, I’m still starry-eyed and find most things very fascinating.

I recently learnt about the famous bet that Ray Kurzweil and Mitch Kapor have over whether or not a computer or “machine intelligence” will have passed the Turing test by 2029.

The simple bet struck me as interesting because Kurzweil’s logic and vision may seem too ambitious to some, but to him it’s simply Moore’s law at work. I am personally more drawn to Kapor’s perspective that seems to not undermine the complexities of human behavior. Either way, I am very excited to find out!

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

“Find a job that doesn’t feel like work.”

Your happiness quotient increases when your days are spent doing the things that you love.

Thanks Abhilasha! You can find Abhilasha on abhilasharoy.com. Want to team up with Rasa? We’re hiring! Find open positions our open roles on our Jobs Board.