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The Digital Assistant Academy

Setting the Standard in Voice Technology Learning

The Digital Assistant Academy provides a comprehensive focus on learner and industry needs. This gives it a clear advantage over voice tech course providers. Established in 2020, the Academy is the only organization with strong connections to the voice tech industry across the globe. This enables the Academy to set the standards and frameworks for privacy, ethics, inclusivity, and conversation design.

Shyamala Prayaga

Founder, Digital Assistant Academy

Shyamala Prayaga is the founder of the Digital Assistant Academy. A self-described evangelist for UX and voice technology, Shyamala recognizes the societal and cultural benefits of voice tech evolution.

Shyamala possesses the insight and knowledge that comes with experience and leadership from technical, development, and design roles. Her design and research work is presented nationally and internationally to general and field-specific audiences. 

Shyamala has more than 18 years of experience designing for mobile, web, desktop, and smart TV interfaces.

In addition, Shyamala has more than six years of experience designing voice interfaces for Connected Home Experience, Automotive, and Wearables.

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Shyamala's work on research into usability, accessibility, speech recognition, multimodal voice user interfaces, and user interfaces for research and educational use cases has been published internationally. Her interviews have been published with several magazines and podcasts, including the healthy code, Automotive, and TU-Auto magazines.

Shyamala is an active Ambassador for the Open Voice Network, bringing the value of standards to the multi-platform, multi-device, multi-use world of voice assistance. She is also founder of Women in Voice Michigan Chapter, empowering women and minority genders in voice technology.

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Shyamala regularly speaks and presents workshops about voice and UX. Events she has spoken at include: Business of Bots (San Francisco); Voice-Connected Home (Portland); TU Automotive (Detroit); INTERNET OF CARS (Las Vegas); Mobility by Automotive world (Detroit); Autonomous Vehicles (Detroit); Scale-up Car HMI; Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing (Grand Rapids); Conversion Conference (Las Vegas); UX Dev Summit (Florida); and World Usability Congress (Seattle). 

Globally, Shyamala has spoken at: Chatbot Summit (Sydney); Conversion Conference (Berlin);  IA Summit (Canada); and Meta Refresh (India).

Based in Michigan, US, Shyamala is a mother and wife. She is the author of Close Calls - My Life of Unseen Miracles

Find Shyamala on Linkedin

Learn from Voice Industry Experts

Academy founder Shyamala Prayaga has drawn together an impressive group of voice industry experts to be a part of your learning experience. These individuals have all achieved a great deal in their professional lives and are ready to share their knowledge and insights with you!

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Rebecca Evanhoe

Rebecca Evanhoe, author and conversation designer, has been developing technology that you talk to since 2011 at companies like Amazon Web Services, Mobiquity, and Shadow Health. She has created virtual patient characters for chat-based learning games, bots for fun and service, and interactive experiences for Alexa and Google Home platforms. Along with her experience in voice and conversation, she earned an MFA in creative writing. She teaches conversation design as a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, and she leads workshops in a variety of writing genres, from creative to technical to UX.

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Rebecca Evanhoe, author and conversation designer, has been developing technology that you talk to since 2011 ...

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Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek

Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek

Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek is the CEO and Founder of Women in Voice (WiV), the international nonprofit empowering women and diversity in voice tech. In two years, WiV has scaled to 15 chapters in 9 countries with over 50 international ambassadors. An Alexa Champion, “Top 11 Influencer of Voice” by Voicebot.ai 2019, WeWork Labs Entrepreneur in Residence 2020, “Executive of the Year” Finalist 2019 by Project Voice, Bajorek is a leader in the voice technology field domestically and internationally.

Previously a Senior Conversational Experience Designer at Nuance, the Head of Conversational Research at VERSA, and Principal User Experience Researcher at the University of Arizona, Bajorek has over seven years of experience with both strategy and execution for conversational AI products across healthcare, telecom, utilities, transportation, government, and customer service verticals. Connecting with international audiences, she has been a featured speaker or keynote speaker at CES, VentureBeat, VOICE Summit, L3-AI by Rasa, GeekGirlCon, The Voice Den, Girls Who Code, Rosetta Stone, Women in AI Summit, and NewVoice Summit by Google Assistant Brazil, among others.

As a researcher and scholar, her PhD research and thought leadership pieces have been featured in Harvard Business Review, Cambridge University Press, Adobe XD Ideas, SoundHound, Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal on TBS, and UXmatters, exploring the future of voice products, bias in AI, platform disruption, and multimodal and multilingual interfaces of the future. She holds a PhD from the University of Arizona in the field of speech language technology and an MA in Linguistics from the University of California, Davis. She lives in Seattle, WA.

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Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek is the CEO and Founder of Women in Voice (WiV), the international nonprofit empowering women ...

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Phillip Hunter

Phillip is the founder and principal at CCAI Services, a product development and consultancy firm focused on conversational and collaborative uses of artificial intelligence. He's built decades of successful experience by playing pivotal roles in conversational and multimodal AI applications at Amazon Alexa, [24]7 AI, Microsoft Cortana, and several start-ups. Phillip also led product design efforts at Amazon Web Services and for enterprise contact center software. Phillip is passionate about helping humans and software collaborate, making complex systems clear, and little details that make big differences.

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Phillip is the founder and principal at CCAI Services, a product development and consultancy firm focused on conversational ...

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Samrat Baul

Samrat has close to twenty years of experience designing conversational UIs and his apps are used millions of times every day. He has designed these experiences for TVs, smart speakers, chatbots, multimodal mobile apps and IVRs. He is currently leading the design of enterprise grade conversational UXs for Oracle and its clients across the globe. Over the years Samrat has helped many young designers start and grow their careers as VUI designers - many of whom went on to design Google Home, Alexa and Fortune 50 IVRs.

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Samrat has close to twenty years of experience designing conversational UIs and his apps are used millions of times every day ...

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Brooke Hawkins

Brooke Hawkins is a designer in the world of voice and conversational interfaces. Her experience in the industry is vast, having designed voice experiences for healthcare institutions, nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies, and startups. Brooke’s work sits at the intersection of designing useful and meaningful interactions, as well as creating scholarship around the ethics surrounding our future of living in a voice interface mediated world. Brooke has spoken at the IA Summit and the Voice Summit, as well as a variety of industry podcasts like Machine Yearning, VoiceFirstFM and more. Brooke also is committed to training and educating a new generation of talent.

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Brooke Hawkins is a designer in the world of voice and conversational interfaces. Her experience in the industry is vast ...

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Get Career Coaching From a Staffing Industry Leader

The DA Academy knows that you invested in our training to accomplish two things: increase your professional opportunities, and boost your earning potential. That’s why we have partnered with the design profession’s top talent agents and a staffing industry leader.

Lee Andrese

Principal & Managing Partner, akathame LLC

Lee Andrese is a Principal & Managing Partner of akathame LLC, a recruitment and talent management firm. She was the head of Aquent Studios Government practice, launching the first deployable TS/SCI Poly-cleared design team within the intelligence community. She also led Aquent’s Technology staffing practice, and prior to that was Aquent’s first corporate trainer and then head of Learning Services. Lee introduced Aquent’s first set of company-wide staffing best practices, implemented the first LMS, and created the first fully remote new hire training program.

Lee is recognized as a trusted advisor and HR business partner to senior leaders within industry and government. She supports the C-Suite, Directors, and business managers on strategic talent acquisition and management issues. Lee filled over 3,000 positions, trained over 2,000 recruiters, sales and management personnel, and typically reduces time-to-hire and costs by 20 percent.

Lee’s an international speaker and trainer on Storytelling for business, teaching over 5,000 people a better way to craft and tell their stories. She's presented at conferences like AIGA, the Interagency Visual Media Group, Big Design in Dallas, APMP, and within the Intelligence Community.

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Contact Us

Contact the Digital Assistant Academy if you have any questions about our courses and services.