Mónica González Arrebola

PepsiCo

Spain

Mónica González Arrebola, Head of IT Operations for Spain, Portugal and Italy at PepsiCo, believes AI technology allows people to live more fulfilling lives. As repetitive tasks become automated, Mónica says that people will be able “to do things where their creativity, their interests, and skills are considered.” To encourage more women to work in the field of AI, she suggests shedding light on the many ways AI can be used to benefit society at large.

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Mónica González Arrebola

Mónica González Arrebola enjoys working in the AI industry because it never stops changing and improving. “If you’re curious enough, then it will totally fulfill your needs. Not because you have to learn new things, but because many new things are happening all the time,” she says.

Prior to her current role at PepsiCo, Mónica worked for Accenture in application development. “I developed my career in that space: consulting, applications development, deploying, and business applications,” says Mónica. Although she initially worked in application development when she moved to PepsiCo, she eventually changed roles, moving into Service Management and IT Operations. “It was a great experience for me because I developed the skill of managing big teams,” she says. From this experience, she says she was able to develop her career “as a manager of big teams in many multiple countries.”

Mónica recently transitioned from her role leading the IT operations functions at PepsiCo in Southwest Europe to her current role in IT Business Relationship Management at PepsiCo. In this capacity, she establishes the relationships with PepsiCo’s enabling services functions, including procurement, finance and HR. In addition, Mónica is responsible for the relationship with the digital team.

So far in her career, Mónica has had one mentor who helped her develop her ability to speak in front of big audiences. “I felt that was something I needed to improve so I asked him to be my mentor and help me on with this specific issue,” says Mónica.

Within her industry, Mónica says AI technology can be applied in many ways, such as “knowing better about our customers and analyzing big amounts of data and making forecasts that helps us to make better segmentation of our customers and so on.” Many applications of AI technology involve using Natural Language Processing, voice recognition and image vision technology for customer-facing interactions.

Today, AI is ubiquitous and is embedded in much of today’s software and social media platforms. In fact, to explain AI projects to non-technical friends and family, Mónica suggests avoiding details that go into “neural network, probabilities of cases, and all the history behind it.” Instead, Mónica recommends talking about the use cases and the possibilities of the technology. “It’s not that complicated in the sense that you live with AI every day,” she notes.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Mónica highlights how technology made fitness and social interactions easier, despite lockdown restrictions. “Even during COVID, I couldn’t go to the gym, but then you have YouTube that provides classes,” Mónica explains. “The world still interacted and engaged with one another.”

Despite AI’s omnipresence in day-to-day life, many people fear the technology will someday surpass human intelligence – and Mónica understands why this fear exists. “I was reading a book about AI this summer and the big experts on AI differ on how it will evolve,” she explains. Some experts argued that machines would never surpass humans, while other experts argued that it was only a matter of time before AI asserted its dominance. “If [the experts] don’t know where AI can end, it is difficult for a normal citizen to formulate an opinion on the matter,” she says.

While the debate over AI’s limitations may be disconcerting, Mónica emphasizes the many ways AI positively impacts people’s lives. “If you look at where we are today versus where we were 10 years ago, with your smartphone in your hand you can do everything at any time,” says Mónica.

As simple, repetitive tasks become easier with AI, especially with voice-based interfaces, Mónica believes this will afford people with more time. “There is a possibility now for [people] to do things where their creativity, their interests, and skills are considered,” says Mónica. “I truly believe that Artificial Intelligence will better society.”

Looking toward the future, Mónica believes there are several more opportunities for industries, such as healthcare, to benefit from AI. “If you think about the health environment, the progress and capabilities that the technologies have to offer in order to diagnose better and forecast what can happen – that's an incredible thing all of society can benefit from.”

To address the underrepresentation of women in STEM, Mónica suggests teaching girls about AI’s overall benefits. “I think women are usually more interested in doing things for the well-being of the society,” says Mónica. “If we were able to demonstrate that with technology, that it’s benefiting everyone, maybe [girls] would feel more [encouraged] to make tech their career path.”

Mónica believes women are more sensitive to people they meet — a trait she knows is critical for working well with others. She also advises women who are pursuing careers in STEM to believe in their abilities.

“Technology will allow people to do many things, so the main thing is that you need to love what you do,” says Mónica. “The reason that’s so important is if you like what you do, then gender is not a factor.”