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Karen Conway, representing itag's AI Forum
February 13, 2024

Karen Conway’s contribution to Diversity, AI and her influence on the tech sector along AtlanTec Gateway

Author: Jo Mullins
Published by: itag & itag Skillnet
Date published: February 13, 2023

With her primary focus on diversity in tech and artificial intelligence (AI), Karen Conway, Vice President, Technology Management at Fidelity Investments and a prominent member of itag’s AI Forum, has made significant contributions to the tech ecosystem along the AtlanTec Gateway.  Karen’s involvement with itag (Innovation Technology AtlanTec Gateway) commenced with her as an active member of the itag Digital Women’s Forum. As a committee member she was involved in organising tech and networking events, AtlanTec Festival, mentoring programmes, investigating skills gaps, and ways to introduce more diversity in tech.  Karen participated in itag Skillnet’s Digital Women’s Leadership programme.  A program, that is designed for high potential women in middle/senior management. The program is planned to encourage and increase female technologists and their visibility in the IT sector. The training modules are designed for women in tech to ensure long term engagement and the development of increased leadership impact.

A move to Artificial Intelligence Forum

Karen developed an ever-increasing interest in Artificial Intelligence and moved to join the itag AI Forum.  Karen’s interest in AI led her to being involved in the development of the Post Graduate Certificate, AI for Professionals programme.  She enthusiastically responded to a group email she received from itag skillnet asking for ideas on Masters/Diplomas. Having researched AI courses extensively, she pitched the concept of a comprehensive program that covers the fundamentals of AI while also addressing ethics, law, and the future trajectory of the technology. To her amazement, the course was approved for funding, and she collaborated with itag skillnet, itag AI forum, and University of Galway to design the curriculum. The AI for Professionals (originally named AI for Managers) course was launched in September 2021, and Karen was one of the first participants.

Post Graduate Certificate in Artificial Intelligence for Professionals

The program was designed to provide participants with a theoretical understanding of AI without the need for coding skills. It aimed to equip managers with the knowledge they need to contribute effectively to the design and ethical use of AI within their organisations.

Karen states that “As a graduate of this course, it is fantastic for learning not just how AI works, but also teaches you the societal impact of AI. More than ever AI and Ethics is at the forefront of technology conversations”.

At Fidelity Investments, Karen and her colleagues actively promote work-life balance and support continuous learning. In line with this approach, the AI for Professionals course was designed to be 100% online, allowing participants to access pre-recorded lectures at their own pace. Instead of traditional end-of-semester exams, the course assessments are conducted through continuous assessment methods. This flexibility enables participants to manage their course commitments more effectively. Karen also took advantage of Fidelity’s Learning Days, a program that provides employees with dedicated time for skill development.

itag is thrilled to have collaborated with Karen Conway and University of Galway on this innovative program which has grown in popularity year on year.  Its implementation was made possible through funding from Skillnet Ireland.

Karen supports and encourages new talent.

Karen is passionate about inspiring young minds and encourages them to engage in STEM activities via Fidelity Investments involvement in the Galway Science and Technology Festival and the inaugural Computer Science Leaving Cert Hackathon, which was organised by Ross Conboy, Computer Science teacher at ‘The Bish’, Galway.

Karen has also presented on behalf of itag at The Galway Advertisers Pathways event, providing insight into the various career paths in tech and what steps are needed to succeed.  She is also a regular visitor to the computer science students at St Brigid’s Convent of Mercy (renamed High Cross College), Tuam, Co Galway.   When computer science was introduced as a leaving cert subject Fidelity Investments developed a partnership with The Mercy, Tuam to support this all-girls school with the objective of increasing the uptake in STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and maths]. As part of this programme Karen acts as a role model in technology, delivering student workshops, technology and career talks, and hosting office visits to Fidelity Investments.