Rupa Chaturvedi led UX design at Amazon Alexa and Google Nest. And she’s built an incredible career in AI product design:
Here’s what Rupa has accomplished (so far):
Currently Head of Merchant Design at Uber managing a team of 6
Designed AI/AR products at Amazon, Google, and Sentient
24 patents (!) in computer vision and augmented reality
Co-founded India’s first e-learning startup
Product design lecturer at Stanford
Her fingerprints are all over the AI/AR consumer technologies we use today.
But early on, she struggled to get a seat at the table. Design was often excluded from product planning because they were seen as mere decorators and not technical enough.
Despite being excluded, Rupa fought to be heard by using a skill that a room full of scientists with PhDs didn’t have: understanding how users interact with AI and AR.
For example, when building an augmented reality shopping product, Rupa was frustrated by the early prototypes. So she brought the scientists to a nearby Macy’s to show them how people shop in real life & taught them to work backwards from real customers’ experiences.
Another example: While testing a new voice assistant, the scientists discovered a problem. People weren’t using voice, and often preferred to click a button on their phones. That’s where Rupa shined. She translated how people *want* to interact with a voice assistant to a product PRD, so the team could build products people actually used.
Three lessons from Rupa’s story:
1. The most rewarding journeys often come without a map. Rupa considers herself a lifelong learner. Her career has been about building new products that had no precedent: augmented reality, conversational AI, computer vision. Now, she’s teaching a course to continue challenging herself and making an impact.
2. David Kelley (founder of IDEO and Stanford d.school) once told Rupa: “If you want to get better at something, teach it.” Rupa says teaching a course has helped her get even deeper into her craft.
3. Step out of your comfort zone. Rupa said: “I don’t like writing or making decks. But I still put in the effort to do it proactively and share my recommendations.” She continues to challenge herself today by sharing her knowledge publicly and teaching others.
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