Shaleen Srivastava is Immense’s Chief Commercial Officer, passionate innovator and a ‘wannabe’ painter!
Tell us a bit about what you do at Immense?
I joined Immense in November 2018. Professionally I am a civil engineer. After qualifying and doing my post-grad in Germany, I came to the UK where I worked for Jacobs in transport planning team and specialised in innovation. There was a big push for new technology at the time, I was leading a team for simulation, modelling and ITS and I was looking to bring better data and ideas under one platform for transport modelling, data insights and real-time traffic management.
We were building a new traffic management centre, and with my expertise in data science, especially in processing and analytics of big data from mobile phones and GPS, I came up with the new idea of utilising real-time big data together in transport planning and traffic management. In 2007 we deployed, for the first time in the world real-time data from mobile phones in transport modelling and real-time traffic predictions. For that, we got the hardware probes from the US which we installed on the mobile phone towers in Kent. It meant we could use real-time data to derive not only real-time multi-modal traffic information but also allowed us to predict short-term traffic forecast and OD data for long term planning. It became so popular that people from all over the world, from Las Vegas to Beijing came to Maidstone to see what we were doing! UK Highways Agency (now Highways England) and Transport for London, came out to see what we were doing in Kent and liked the idea of using this technology and they eventually rolled it out across the UK!
Then I moved to the US, I wanted new opportunities and joined PTV and was managing their traffic business in America. I was watching what Immense were doing and I thought wow, that’s what the users want, that’s what the industry wants, they are moving into the future. I thought it was a good fit for me!
How did you find out about Immense and become involved in the company?
I have known Robin and Carl a long time, I always used to see Robin at all the conferences, and we would always have good discussions about what Immense were up to. I followed all their blogs and news stories, seeing what they were working on. They were doing exactly what I wanted to do, it’s what I saw as the future of simulations to address disruption in transportation. Immense is changing the paradigm we are used to in transport simulations and breaking the decades old status-quo by using AI, cloud computing and data driven modelling altogether. Immense has disrupted the traffic simulation software industry by making models and simulations simple to use, quick to access, effective in analytics and inexpensive to procure. Therefore, for me it was no brainer to get on board.
What is the best part about working at Immense?
The best part is impressing with the technology, looking into the future and at the same time working together with the user and industry. It's not about what we have, it's about what people want, how we can make their lives easy. The other important thing is helping to change people’s lives by giving them 30 -40 minutes with their families by saving them time on the road.
What would you say is the most challenging part of the job?
We are a company with a lot of big ambitions; everyone wants to work with us and use our expertise and solutions. We are still a growing company, the challenge for us which is a big opportunity is meeting the demand from people using our solutions, we need to ramp up quickly in order to meet our clients' expectations and needs as well as to make sure we are continuously improving ourselves.
What advice would you give to those who are looking to get into the STEM careers?
Be passionate about what you do! Only do it if you are passionate! Don’t do it if you do not have the interest if you are just doing it for the job. This is a wonderful industry, it’s very exciting, rapidly changing and so much potential for people to think differently, do differently and to make it sustainable. Since humans arrived on earth, people have always needed to travel, for food for lots of things. So, we need good people, who are passionate, who think outside of the box and innovate.
What’s been your biggest career achievement so far?
I think the big achievement for me is really following my passion; bringing innovation to an industry which was seen as traditional and stalemate, there was nothing exciting happening, people were using tools and technology 30 / 40 years old. The industry was guided by single ideas. My achievement is helping to change the thinking, that things can be done differently, and showing people better and new technologies. So that’s my achievement, with satisfaction.
What did you want to do when you were younger?
When I was younger? I’m still young!
When I was younger, I could hardly manage to draw! I somehow still managed to pass and then I chose civil engineering as my career where I needed to draw a lot. Then luckily computers came, so I could draw on there.
Since I was a child, I always wanted to improve my drawing, draw my imagination. And so now that is my retirement dream, draw paintings when I retire!
What do you think the future of mobility looks like?
The future of mobility will always be exciting and different and new. When I was young we had cars with gears on the steering wheel, seats like a sofa, and we had fans, no air con! Now we are talking about autonomous vehicles, when I was younger no one would even imagine that! There were planes, but no one thought cars would fly. Now it’s a reality! Mobility is always evolving!
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry?
The biggest challenge is really industry is moving faster than we can cope with it. So many disruptions happened in the last five years which we were not expecting, and many more disruptions are about to happen which we are not prepared for. If in one or two years' time there are lots of autonomous vehicles on the road, our roads are not prepared, our mindsets are not prepared. When I cross the road, I look for the driver’s eyes, have they seen me? Then I know I can cross! With an autonomous vehicle, you can’t do that! So we need to find new ways to get that ‘eye contact’ with driverless cars! It’s fun, isn’t it!
When you’re not working what are your hobbies and interests?
That would be my kids, they make sure I don’t do anything else when I am not working! They are also very much into mobility and they talk my language. My son recently did me a drawing of a flying car for me and said, this is the model we should be launching soon! I thought it looked pretty good!
If you were stuck on desert island and could take three things with you what would they be?
People might expect I would say my mobile phone or my laptop. But I would take my son, my daughter and my wife! (If I am stuck for good reasons and for fun).
You can find out more about Immense and our other team members here.