Emily Foges is CEO of AI Tech company Luminance, an Artificial Intelligence company that makes tailored technical solutions for the legal profession. What it does is combine pattern recognition technology with supervised and unsupervised machine learning to read and understand human language. It is used by over 200 law firms and organisations across 46 countries and six continents worldwide and Emily has been the driving force leading the business which was started by mathematicians in the University of Cambridge in England.
80 per cent of the job is listening
Emily worked in the fashion industry and in Mergers and Acquisitions before moving into artificial intelligence but sees many similarities between the fashion process, M and A and her current business Luminance which she talks about in the podcast. One of the most important things she believes is core to any business success is listening. “Eighty percent of the job is listening” she says, “forty percent to the client, forty to the teams and the rest is doing. Understanding what is going on and have a really good radar for all of those things is absolutely vital. Sometimes that can be a little bit frustrating because it can feel like you are not really doing anything, but there is no point in crashing about if you haven’t really listened and really understood.”
Emily Foges did not set out to work in a technology company but as she says most businesses are technology businesses now anyway. She was working in M and A figuring out how to make organisations work better together.
“So often, people buy companies then they realise a few weeks down the line that they didn’t buy what they thought they did.”
Emily used to look at due diligence reports in her work as as integration director and sometimes she would find it difficult to even get hold of the report. She realised it wasn’t being taken seriously enough even though a lot of money had been spent on getting the due diligence research done beforehand. This prompted her to go and work with start ups.
One of the things Emily and her Luminance team learned early on from their first three clients at the International Bar Association Conference – who were Norwegian, Dutch and French among others- is that AI Technology is language agnostic. “Because we are using pattern recognition it doesn’t matter what language you are working in. That hadn’t occurred to us until our customers pointed it out to us. “
COVID19 Effect on Technology
The current COVID19 crisis is pushing people and businesses to reach for new technology and to try new ways of remote working and this is effecting Luminance’s customers too.
“The feedback we are getting from customers at the moment is that the technology really allows them to collaborate. You have lawyers sitting in all of their homes carrying out their workout at least as effectively as when they were working in an office together. “Law is one of the bastions of presenteeism. The idea of working from home is not that acceptable, so that is changing now and they are recognising the benefits of it.”
Flexible working Emily believes is being accelerated which is good for a lot of people. This is affecting families and individuals both men and women.
“When I go to the school gates there are as many men there as women certainly nowadays.”
“Take care of the vision and a lot of the work will take care of itself” is also one of the most important business mantras she holds dear. This is something we hear often on the podcast. Lazer focus on the company’s core business is one of Emily Foges secrets of success.
Pearls Of Wisdom
- Hiring Up. Always hire someone who is better than you. Don’t compromise, if I don’t think someone is better than me then we don’t hire them. The ones who come into the room and blow us away are the ones who will seem normal when they start. Never think, ‘ok you will do’.
- Know Your Customer. You have to understand your customer and have an idea of who they are. Put them at the heart of everything. We have customer profiles, people who have particular roles. These are specific individuals in roles in law firms and we have to understand who they are. We have photos of people, profiles and quotes from them so that we know and understand who they are and what they need.
- Diversity of Thought. No one should feel intimidated to disagree. Everyone should feel it is their place to say what they think. I want them to say what they think. Making sure that there is space for that disagreement so that you can stress test all of your theories so that you can make sure that you are right more than 50% of the time.
- Digg into the Data. In retail you look at your figures every Monday morning and stare at those figures to figure out what to do for the rest of the week. Having really good data in the early days will help you scale up. It is not about the volume of data but about understanding what the right things are to be looking at. Not about volume of sales but customer activity is key to her business. “It doesn’t mater how many sales we have if the customer isn’t using it, or spending any time with the product or getting any value from it, then that situation isn’t going to last.”
- Put Yourself Out There. Networking and visibility are vital for your career and also for the company. Emily was named ‘Woman of the Year’ at the ‘Women in IT Excellence Awards’ in 2018.
Go To Music
Emily Foges Musical choices change all the time. She has three daughters in their teens and they are a big influence. “Whatever the kids are into, at them moment it’s Lizzo or other times it could be Vivaldi.”
One of Lizzo’s albums is called ‘Big Grrrl Small World’ so maybe its appropriate for Emily Foges who is making her mark in the tech and AI world! Emily is well worth a listen now on the podcast.