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Women Changing Technology: Karoliina Torttila, Director of AI, Trimble

Although industrial technology is a male-dominated field, women are breaking barriers every day. At Trimble, women from around the world are pushing the industry forward. We’re proud to celebrate their expertise and diverse perspectives. 

For Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting some of the women driving innovation at Trimble. 

This Q&A features Karoliina Torttila, Director of Artificial Intelligence at Trimble.

Tell us about your role at Trimble.

I lead an R&D team at Trimble, focusing on developing AI for our products. My team and I work with product and engineering teams across various domains, including design, field systems and construction management. Image-based search of SketchUp's 3D Warehouse and point cloud classification in Trimble Business Center are examples of solutions we've released.

What is your favorite part of your job? 

It comes down to finding ways to solve meaningful real-world problems for me — something with a tangible impact. This is intellectually incredibly stimulating, especially with AI advancing so fast right now, which means that our toolbox changes all the time. In connection to that, there's a constant learning aspect to the job, especially between the engineers and myself.

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

The combination of working in a fast-moving field and in a large corporation naturally creates an environment where you're pulled into many directions. Finding and maintaining your focus in that environment can be challenging and involves learning to say no.

Today, with the well-deserved excitement about AI, this has become particularly important. It's easy to dilute yourself to the extent where you give a little to everyone, but not enough to anyone. 

What excites you the most about working at Trimble? 

There's two answers to this, and one is on a deeper level. It's about the significance of the work that we do. The industries that we serve are not nice-to-have industries. They're foundational to society, and playing a part in these industries' evolution feels very meaningful to me personally. 

On a more day-to-day basis, I think it's the sheer amount of knowledge and intelligence at Trimble. Whether we're talking about satellite corrections, simulations, AI, or 3D modeling, there's always somebody around that you can learn from.

What did you want to be as a child? 

I never had a dream occupation per se, but I always wanted to build things. As a kid, this meant building with Legos, assembling Snap Circuits, or creating websites in Yahoo's Geocities. In many ways, I think that's what I've ended up doing now as well. Together with the team, we're building AI and AI systems. It might not be as tangible as building Legos, but there's certainly similarities to that.

What is your favorite productivity hack?

Limiting meetings to no more than eight people, ideally fewer. Robert Sutton, a professor from Stanford University, has shown that the quality of conversation declines when too many people are involved. I highly recommend looking into his work.

It’s interesting because we often have massive meetings in an effort to be inclusive and ensure everyone is heard. Unfortunately, the result is that very few people end up being heard.

What’s a professional goal you recently set for yourself?

Trimble recently gave me the opportunity to go back to school part-time, to satisfy some of my academic goals. The University of Cambridge runs a two-year program called Construction Engineering Masters that brings together contractors, design consultancies, construction lawyers, and technology vendors like us. 

Essentially what they do is they put you in a room together to debate hard topics. It was a really nice way to get perspective in a non-commercial environment on how to push our industry forward. It was a lot of work, but very eye-opening.

Now that I've done that, I'm ready to move full speed ahead and ship as much AI as possible into the world this year. 

What is your favorite way to empower other women at Trimble?

One of the most delightful aspects of my role is seeing women get excited about developing AI. We’ve had engineers from different departments reach out, eager to work with our team to broaden their skill sets. I deeply appreciate the curiosity and drive of these women, and we're thrilled to support more women in getting into AI.

About the Author

Rachel is the Content Marketing Manager for Trimble Construction. She's written for finance, SaaS, manufacturing, telecom, and healthcare companies for 16 years. Writing about construction is her favorite gig yet.

Profile Photo of Rachel Jones