Blog Post

Isabelle Andrieu on the new chapters of Pi School

This month, Pi School celebrates its third anniversary! To mark this occasion, we talked with our School’s CEO – Isabelle Andrieu – about the birthday wishes and aspirations for the times to come. Under Isabelle’s leadership, Pi School has launched its first online training programs, adapting not only to the challenges of the year but also to the demand of an international pool of students joining from anywhere in the world.

Isabelle welcoming the participants of a new training session.

Let’s start with the birthday wishes! As leader of Pi School, what are your main goals for this new season?

I am pretty excited about this new season, though very challenging for the school. We are in the middle of the AI era, and we need to find our voice. People have started to understand that AI is not another bizarre language; it can actually improve their businesses even if they are not familiar with it. They have to start thinking more strategically about their data. And our goal is to help them in this path.

This birthday is also your one year anniversary as CEO. What are your main takeaways from this unprecedented time for education?

It has been a journey so far, and I can say it has been challenging yet exciting. I had to gain more skills to understand better how to move in this world and get prepared. I like to understand things perfectly before I move. It takes some time, and I know you rarely have the luxury of time; you have to be a fast learner; otherwise, you are dead.

I understood the importance of aligning the team to a common goal and to the problems that need to be solved; this is key to success. I also received good advice from mentors and advisors. And family is important too. I would never have taken this role if my husband, Marco, partner and co-founder of our businesses wasn’t onboard. 

Apart from this self-analysis for this first year – and there is still a lot of improvement – Covid-19 has been really tough for us. We had to cancel one batch from the School of AI at the beginning of the pandemic, but this has forced us to move the needle versus online solutions and find new strategies. We are taking this unprecedented opportunity to do better and touch a larger crowd.

Debate amongst startup investors.

Is the future all about online training or are we going back to the classrooms?

I believe both. The online offer is vast, and it allows you to go at your own pace. You may decide to record any topic that does not need much interaction with the students. So you can make a choice, which content is suitable for online, and which one is not. 

When it comes to the emotion, the experience it brings, and the network you create, there is no comparison with a live event. Think about when you go on an Erasmus program; it is the experience as a whole that counts, not only the instruction that you receive. The good thing is that, with the lockdown, people have been forced to come up with solutions, and we see innovative ideas around.

Together with Sébastien Bratières, AI Director of Pi School and Translated, you have expanded the training offer for companies. Can you tell us more about this opportunity for businesses?

Initially, companies asked us to work on an idea that involves the development of Artificial Intelligence. That’s when we started our 8-week formula, in which we deliver them a prototype that needs further development to become a real business application. Some companies then realize that they might not have the internal skills to follow up with the project’s development. So they asked us to either follow them or train their team. 

When we follow them, it’s a straightforward process: we work closely with their engineers’ teams. And to support them, we either assign the same AI students who have worked on the prototype or do a proper recruitment process for the best resource among engineers worldwide. 

When we’re asked to train their teams, it often comes from the necessity to scale up and transform their current teams of engineers into AI experts. Companies have to undertake data-driven transformation and make sure they have the right people on board, so they need to train them and be sure to be future-ready quickly.

We offer hands-on, customized programs in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence that allow these companies to research, design, and implement their own AI solutions. This training type of training aims at large groups of data scientists. It is really interesting, and they benefit from keeping their teams and growing simultaneously by implementing their own AI solutions. 

Pi Campus’ 6th villa and home of Pi School.

As part of the startup ecosystem of Pi Campus, how does Pi School contribute to creating the next generation of entrepreneurs?

I think that the way we do it is by working with the best people and giving back to the community as much as we can.  Our advisers Alex Waibel (Professor at Carnegie Mellon), Hassan Sawaf (Former Director at Facebook AI), and Marcello Federico (Principal Applied Scientist at Amazon) are the “fathers of AI”; they are experts and have an in-depth knowledge of what we are talking about. They are with us to support and advise our project at 360º. 

The students, either enrolled in the creative or in the AI programs, are all surrounded by the best mentors. They are top managers or engineers in the most respectable labs around the world. They coach each student and make sure they receive full support, inspiration and career advice.

Together with our great team, these people contribute in sharing our vision, advice, and mission. We always aspire to do better, and my wish is that we empower you to do so. As a community, we can drive transformation and have a say in tomorrow’s society. Keep that in mind!

Is your company ready for AI?


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