Rising Stars: Elissa Moses for Women in Tech

“You must be able to adapt to change instantly without notice, find new solutions and dream big by imaging what may be possible and devising a plan to get there.” – Elissa Moses

Industry Leaders had the pleasure of interviewing Elissa Moses, the brains behind BrainGroup Global, a company that combines the best of neuroscience understanding and methods in the service of big-name clients.

Industry Leaders: How does HARK Connect and BrainGroup Global help females lead the field of science and technology?

Elissa Moses: The best way to lead is to start by showcasing role models. At HARK Connect we help connect females in the field of science and technology first by being leaders in the field. Important members of our team including myself as Managing Partner of HARK Connect, our COO of parent company MediaScience, the heads of our HARK Technicians Group and the head of our HARK Sales Team are all women in tech who lead by example and by mentoring others. We also make a practice of frequently hiring female interns.

Elissa Moses HARK Connect

At BrainGroup Global we have a great track record hiring female designers, copywriters, semiologists, researchers and academic partners. We also are in perpetual motion as thought leaders writing articles, book chapters, serving on panels and giving speeches to have a visible seat at one of the most important tables, which is the table of ideas.

During Covid, I collaborated with two professors from Dartmouth and Columbia and wrote a chapter on tech and the future of advertising (“The Future of Advertising: Influencing and Predicting Response Through Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Neuroscience”, IGI Global 2021). On October 24, 2021, I participated in an ARF Roundtable on AI and ML. I am on the advisory board of the AI Council for the data analytics trade association I-Com and a member of the Tech Council for C200 which is a group of female CEOs and Entrepreneurs who advise women to grow as leaders. I also teach AI/ML at Columbia. It is important for those of us who are in the field as influencers to keep a high profile, proselytize, mentor and coach whenever we can.

Industry Leaders: What are the key strategies followed by you as a Managing Partner of HARK Connect and CEO of BrainGroup Global to help the tech agencies reach their goals?

Elissa Moses: Our key strategies are to:

  1. Stay agile
  2. Be fearless and
  3. Dream big

So much of being in tech and science is about being a fearless adventurer. You must be able to adapt to change instantly without notice, find new solutions and dream big by imaging what may be possible and devising a plan to get there. And this is despite others telling you it can’t be done or your meeting with obstacles on the first few tries.

Often great innovation comes from crisis.  In January of 2019, a couple months before COVID-19, HARK Connect launched its first QualTech platform to enable video streaming from focus group facilities with numerous breakthrough features such as AI translations and transcripts. Then Covid hit the next month and literally overnight, almost every focus group facility in the world closed its doors. Many have yet to reopen.

HARK Connect sprang to action. We designed new software to enable online qualitative sessions by meeting with our developers literally every day over that Spring and Summer. Finally we were ready to launch what is now a vastly superior software platform that can service both in person and remote (online) qualitative research or any type of meetings or discussions.

At BrainGroup Global we put the emphasis on dreaming, which I know sounds funny, but is legitimate work. We are stirring a movement to create better advertising and branding though technology and scientific knowledge. And we are challenging the status quo that “creative cannot be a formula” (not all but maybe part of it can be algorithmically optimized) or that half of advertising is wasted, but we will never know which half.

There is so much we know now through AI and ML about what makes great advertising. Why not take advantage of it going in? There are tons we’ve learned about the power of emotion and how to use neurometrics to measure consumer response and better predict ad success. There is a huge body of work, some of it spearheaded by my HARK partner and founder Duane Varan at MediaScience with respect to how ads get wasted or on the flip side can be vastly improved. Why not make consideration of this advancement in knowledge fueled by science and technology the starting point as a standard? It is time for the industry to progress and leverage all the learning to enhance probabilities of successful marketing of all kinds every time. That is the future of advertising, and it comes from dreaming big.

Industry Leaders: What basic lessons can our readers learn about the HARK Connect AI research assistant for automatic tagging and translation?

Elissa Moses: Imagine that important job tasks that used to take hours or days to accomplish and required your keen attention, often with significant added charges of thousands of dollars, are now done for you in real time with no added cost. That’s what HARK Connect’s AI enabled features for things like automated tagging, transcripts and translations provides. It is as if you had the budget to hire a multi-lingual assistant who is keenly listening to your research sessions and tagging keywords and phrases, typing up the transcripts at superhuman speed after the sessions and also translating as you observe in over 65 languages so that you get to see closed captions in the languages of your choice and your colleagues do as well. Hence, the French can watch in French, the Chinese can observe in Mandarin or Cantonese, etc. If you hired someone to do all of these tasks it would raise your project budget considerably. And if you hired a highly skilled assistant, the added budget required would be prohibitive. And yet, with technology doing these highly important tasks, it is as if you have a team supporting you and freeing you up to do the more important  job of information analysis and strategic thinking to help your clients or brands.

Some people fear that AI and ML will ultimately replace their jobs. What they don’t understand is that in most cases it will make their jobs so much better, eliminating the rote, dull and tedious parts of the day- to-day functions with effortless precision so that they can better apply their human expertise with less tension and frustration. AI and ML free us up to speed more time on the more important parts of our jobs with a clearer head and less distractions of other tasks to be done.

We consider all the functionality that our AI/ML provide the equivalent of a personal system who we call Ava.

Soon Ava will also have the capabilities of a Psychology or Neuroscience PhD assistant being able to provide text analytics, facial coding evaluation, etc.

Too many people who do not understand technology, especially AI/ML have the automatic response of thinking “how can this hurt me?” instead of the far more realistic scenario to contemplate “how can this help me?” Over time we will see technology greatly enhance the ease, productivity and efficiency of our professional lives the same way refrigerators and washing machines redefined a far better modern life at home in the 1950’s.

Industry Leaders: What possible additions can you think of to grow the accomplishments of women in tech?

Elissa Moses: Women are making rapid strides in STEM, but it is not without the continuing undertow of prejudice and obstacles faced by so many ambitious females, no matter their chosen field. It just so happens that the biases are often more exacerbated in tech and science.

A midwestern sophomore in high school recently told me that in her computer class, girls are expected to perform at the bottom and that for the competitions, they are partitioned to a separate team from the boys.

So the first thing women in tech need is support, encouragement and role models at the very beginning while still in school when their interests are developing. It is also the norm, I’ve been told, for high school guest speakers to “always be men unless it’s about emotions or feelings.”

Girls and women in STEM require exposure to female role models in classrooms, in the press, in social media and through organizations. Personally, I am active in a number of organizations which try to teach, mentor and give opportunities to women in STEM such as C200, i-Com and the NMSBA. 

Encouraging women in STEM to support one another and to mentor whenever possible will go a long way in creating a tipping point for critical mass.

Christy Gren
Christy Gren is an Industry Specialist Reporter at Industry Leaders Magazine she enjoys writing about Unicorns, Silicon Valley, Startups, Business Leaders and Innovators. Her articles provide an insight about the Power Players in the field of Technology, Auto, Manufacturing, and F&B.

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