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Mahesh Aasori Soundar – Meet the Mentor

I am a husband to an amazing wife, a father to a beautiful little girl and a son to the best parents in the world. Professionally, I am a data scientist with 10+ years of experience in developing end-to-end scalable analytical products including machine learning. Currently, I work for General Motors in Canada, having previously worked with esteemed companies like Mercedes-Benz in Germany.
Mahesh Aasori Soundar

Data Analytics and Machine learning, General Motors

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some of the best technical minds in the industry. Their patience, planning, commitment to quality work, problem-solving approach, and eagerness to uplift those around them have been values I keenly observed, particularly in the early stages of my career. This inspired me to become a mentor later on, aiming to embody and share these principles with others. MentorCruise allows me to interact with a wider audience and make a positive impact in others' career. At a personal level, I believe mentorships can also be mutually beneficial. It serves as an avenue for me to reflect on myself regularly and enhance my communication skills even further.

How did you get your career start?

Following my bachelor's, I spent three important years in India, developing enterprise-level software, including analytical products in CAD. My boss prioritized my growth, provided a supportive and patient environment during my first year—an invaluable experience. Eager to specialize in data science, I pursued a Master's in Automation and Robotics at Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, in 2012. My master's thesis in gesture recognition domain, guided by exceptional professors and colleagues, paved the way for a data science role soon after graduation in 2015. The foundational knowledge gained in India and focusing on basics proved invaluable during my job search. Since then, I have been actively contributing data-driven insights in finance, insurance and automotive sectors. At the moment, I develop scalable analytical products for GM self driving technology and am grateful for everyone who helped me get here.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

Individuals seeking a career change into data science or those with short-term projects requiring professional guidance are the ones who reach out to me mostly. Many have already taken online courses but still feel disoriented. I address this by offering a personalized work plan with clear priorities tailored to their needs. Transparency is key from the start—I outline what they can expect from me to ensure complete understanding. By emphasizing learning of fundamentals at every stage, I help them understand and explain complex concepts in simple terms. Using a learn-develop-review-repeat cycle through regular calls, I guide mentees towards self-reflection rather than spoon-feeding improvements. Together, we methodically check off each item on our work plan while making sure mentee is on-board with the direction.

What's been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

One of my most impactful mentorship experiences till date occurred outside of MentorCruise. In 2019, when I was with Mercedes-Benz, I was the lone data scientist in a department full of powertrain and thermodynamic experts. I initially tackled projects like replacing physical sensors with ML models and automating calibration processes. However, I soon realized the potential of empowering my colleagues with basic ML skills. A couple of colleagues joined my initiative, prompting me to conduct short and frequent ML workshops using user-friendly tools like Knime, suitable for those without programming knowledge. We initially focused on fundamental ML model-building steps and later delved into the underlying principles. Within three months, with some guidance from me, my colleagues were able to build simple ML models using open-source UI-based tools. These models were used to simulate processes and physical sensors, resulting in cost savings compared to using actual hardware. This collaborative effort allowed us to undertake multiple projects concurrently, leading to significantly improved results by the end of the year.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

The mentorship programs that I have been part of in the past at Mercedes-Benz, etc. along with my time here at MentorCruise has enriched my leadership and communication skills. As a mentor, I am forced to break down complex concepts into understandable pieces, prioritize tasks for each mentee uniquely. Every mentee is different from one another and how to communicate with them and motivate them is a continuous learning experience for me.

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