Influential Leader

Shalini Kapoor

IBM Fellow & Chief Technology Officer for AI, Climate & Sustainability - AI Applications, IBM
Recognition Year(s): 2022
School: S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR)
Location: India

Shalini Kapoor is the first woman IBM Fellow in India, and as IBM’s chief technology officer for AI applications, she leads strategy and thought leadership on AI infusion across all of IBM’s global offerings. Known for incubating next-generation solutions, her current focus is on leading AI solutions for climate risk, sustainability, and women in STEM. She holds 14 patents, has published four papers, and is a prolific speaker. 

As a woman in tech, Kapoor feels it is her responsibility to inspire, advocate, and motivate girls and women to choose this career path. She believes diversity and inclusion fuel innovation, and if we nurture inclusivity in our society and workplace, technology will deliver benefits free of biases. She has been a strong advocate for women in STEM, and as the torchbearer for IBM’s Good Tech projects in India, she has mentored and coached students and young professionals to help them chart their leadership journey.

In 2020, Kapoor founded the Equal Council at IBM India Software Labs to create a progressive workplace that fosters creativity, innovation, and inclusion. This council of both men and women is focused on five tracks: creating opportunities for diverse communities, ensuring employees can be their authentic selves at work, allyship, being LGBTQ+ friendly, and accepting and respecting neurodiversity. 

Kapoor’s business education is the core foundation that powers her development of new products, solutions, and business units. A perfect example is her work in the Internet of Things, which started as technological incubations but soon morphed into a business and value decision. S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research provided her with holistic capabilities that honed her financial, marketing, organizational, and leadership skills and offered exposure to several sectors, helping her tremendously when she infused AI into solutions across industries.

Currently, Kapoor is pursuing new businesses around climate risks and sustainability. Finance, insurance, energies and utilities, agriculture, chemicals, and petroleum organizations are all clamoring for sustainable solutions, and determining how artificial intelligence can change these industries fundamentally is a great business opportunity.

Kapoor’s philosophy is that leaders of tomorrow need to exercise empathy and believe in servant leadership. When she was leading AI infusion across software products in IBM, the focus of her energies was on making it pervasive and available to all. She worked with the Central Board of Secondary Education to bring AI into curricula for grade 11 and 12 students in India. This required a clear understanding of the needs of students from not only STEM backgrounds but also humanities and commerce. As a result, AI was introduced in more than 200 schools in the first year and is currently being rolled out to millions of students across India. It is clear that Kapoor believes in learning while continuously striving for a better world.