Transitioning from RPA experts to AI automation professionals



UiPath Community Most Valuable Professionals share ‌their journeys from building RPA workflows to AI-powered automations. In the rapidly evolving landscape of automation, professionals at Boundaryless Group, qBotica, and Ashling Partners exemplify a journey of growth. We wanted to hear directly from the automations professionals who shape the future of RPA and AI, and we received their thoughts in this dedicated interview.

Chapter one - How did your career journey transition into becoming an AI automation professional?

Our talk begins with a visionary RPA Solution Architect at Boundaryless Group, Lahiru Fernando. Under the guidance of CEO Erik Gillet, who anticipated the rising demand for AI, started exploring. By proactively focusing on AI capabilities such as intelligent document processing, prediction, in-‌depth analytics, email processing, Lahiru transitioned into a practice lead for document understanding and AI. Today, he is overseeing all document understanding and AI initiatives across Boundaryless Group.

Transitioning from a freelancer on UpWork, Leon Petrou started with no technical background or coding experience in 2017. Through hands-on learning, the freelancer role evolved into getting recognized as UiPath AI Ambassador of the Year in 2023 in UiPath Community and becoming an entrepreneur.

Coming from a hardware electronics engineering background, seamlessly starting to integrate batch scripts and VB code into daily support tasks. Russel Alfeche moved into championing automation projects at Fortune 100. Incorporating conversational AI and advancing to become a Solutions Engineer at UiPath later. Today, as a Technology Leader at qBotica, he continues to pioneer automation leveraging Generative AI and Specialized AI, emphasizing the critical role of intelligent automation.

Currently, as a Technology Leader for our intelligent automation services at qBotica (UiPath platinum partner, USN Certified) and the first one to complete the UiPath Certified Professional Specialized AI certification, it's my mandate to deliver high quality AI powered automations for our customers and distribution partners and continuously evangelize the critical role of intelligent automation in every company's digital transformation journey.

Joining Ashling Partners in 2021, with a background in machine learning and business, Sharon Palawandram embarked on a transformative journey. Engaging actively in exploring AI capabilities, she partnerships with UiPath. Her role as an AI professional is not just a job but a rewarding ongoing professional journey.

In the last years, AI has witnessed an unprecedented surge in global interest, with discussions centered on generative AI and a worldwide shift in this direction. In the current year, we are observing a widespread adoption of AI across nearly all sectors. AI has firmly demonstrated its value and profound impact on our work processes. As an AI professional, I firmly believe that AI will be as essential as any specialization in all sectors in the future. Therefore, it's an excellent time to embark into AI.

Chapter two - What helped you accelerate your journey in adopting AI technologies and building competence? 

Every successful deep dive into AI begins with a solid foundation of knowledge. Lahiru shares how his journey accelerated through meticulous research, focusing on understanding the fundamental aspects of AI.

Transitioning into the AI world demands more than theoretical knowledge. It requires practical experience. Lahiru Fernando emphasizes the importance of attending learning programs, workshops, webinars, and hands-on sessions to gain insights and skills. Applying this knowledge to real-world scenarios through use cases proved instrumental in delivering successful outcomes on AI-automation projects.

Recognizing the challenges faced during his own learning journey, Leon took the initiative to create an online Udemy course. The "Complete UiPath RPA Developer Course" compiles years of experience into a 30-hour program, providing hands-on experience in building advanced robots from scratch using UiPath. This course has grown, with over 50,000 students enrolled, offering a valuable resource for anyone aspiring to enter automation roles. To further empower AI professionals, Leon introduced the "Complete RPA Bootcamp" a 100-hour program focused on upskilling with AI-powered automation. This advanced course delves into building enterprise-grade UiPath robots incorporating AI. Document understanding, OpenAI integration, and custom machine learning models are some of the areas of interest. The free training for this program offers a comprehensive resource for those looking to advance their skills. Listen more in this video.

For a more structured approach, Leon recommends UiPath Academy, especially with the launch of Generative AI and Specialized AI capabilities in UiPath. Learning plans and certifications enable professionals to use these cutting-edge technologies and stay ahead in the fast-paced world of automation.

Russel's recommendation for those starting their AI journey is UiPath Document Understanding. Enabling the creation, training, and deployment of customized or prebuilt machine learning models, it addresses diverse and complex use cases with user-friendly, low-code tools. Russel emphasizes the importance of applying these concepts in actual projects and customer pilots, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing within the community.

Highlighting the Specialized AI certification as a personal favorite, Sharon recommends it as a comprehensive program for anyone interested in adopting AI technologies within UiPath. To broaden one's knowledge in general AI technologies, the "Machine Learning Specialization" on Stanford's course on Coursera is also an inspired choice.

Chapter three - Which are some useful examples of AI-automations that work and can generate value in companies?

Lahiru shares that finance teams handle many document processing activities that include invoice processing, purchase order processing, etc. These are some where AI powered automation can help generate a lot of value. Another view is on creating intelligent knowledge repositories. Almost all organizations manage their information in documents, web URLs, internal databases, and other sources. For someone to find all the information effectively, they need to browse through multiple sources, Lahiru indicates. In his view, Generative AI and Specialized AI capabilities together can generate personalized and insightful responses from knowledge bases. Also, organizations that work in the child welfare domain handle lots of documents daily. These documents include various types, structured and unstructured, and UiPath Document Understanding can optimize the operations in child adoption, he shares. Hear more in this video.

Witnessing the significant impact AI-powered automation can generate, Leon got inspired and created his own startup,, an AI-powered online learning platform.

This platform personalizes the learning experience for students by utilizing AI to customize curriculum, skill level, learning style, and even generate course content based on individual goals and learning outcomes. also incorporates a reliable AI chatbot for 24/7 live student support and an AI-powered UiPath robot that instantly grades assignments and provides personalized feedback for students. AI powered personalized learning offers multiple benefits, these include on-demand student support, increased course engagement, improved learning outcomes, and accelerated learning through shorter, targeted learning paths.

Russel finds that the main areas for AI powered use cases are claims processing, denials management​, data fabric integrator between multiple EMRs​, and consolidation of financial and clinical data.

One use case I can think of, that includes both Specialized and Generative AI, could be in insurance where they will use Document Understanding (Specialized AI) to extract from structured policy forms, then use OpenAI connector in UiPath Integration Service to do comparison and summarization of old and new policies (Generative AI).

One of Sharon’s favorite automation approaches involves document understanding using UiPath AI Center™. With the recent inclusion of generative predict and extract features in UiPath, there is the possibility of leveraging the capabilities of ML model-based extraction and generative capabilities. Through UiPath Solution Accelerators, one can explore comprehensive AI automation solutions centered around document understanding. ‌

Chapter four - What does AI at Work mean to you?

In the fast-evolving landscape of automation, the integration of AI into our professional lives has become a game-changer, Lahiru thinks. As a UiPath MVP and AI ambassador, he practices the transformative impact of AI.

Efficiency is at the core of AI role in our daily activities, Leon indicates. Leveraging ChatGPT, he discovered the importance of prompt engineering. The quality of prompts directly influences the responses received from language models, making it a crucial skill for unlocking the full potential of AI. In the pursuit of his self-improvement, he acknowledged this skill, especially when building UiPath workflows integrated with OpenAI or other large language model APIs. Leon shares a recently launched Udemy course dedicated to mastering prompt engineering. The course provides practical insights to enhance automation capabilities.

AI at Work for Russel includes context, action, and trust. Context is about providing critical guidance to language models (LLMs), creating a contextual interface for automation flows. Action comes to life through attended and unattended robots, as well as the revolutionary UiPath Autopilot™, which integrates Generative AI, Specialized AI, and automation to fast-track work using natural language. Trust is provided through the UiPath AI Trust Layer, offering governance and confidence in the responsible use of Generative AI. These components work together to provide a secure, efficient, and user-friendly experience at UiPath. Listen more in this video.

Sharon believes that integrating AI into work processes goes beyond efficiency. AI acts as a reliable assistant, handling mundane tasks and freeing up valuable time for more relevant activities. In her view, this time-saving aspect fosters innovation and allows for a better work-life balance. The extra time can be invested in creative pursuits and personal growth. Discover more in this video.


The 2023.10 UiPath product release is here. You can now explore the UiPath Business Automation Platform to prospect the value from AI. UiPath Autopilot™ is a good example of Gen AI to work with, also paired with Specialized AI within UiPath Document Understanding and UiPath Communications Mining to take intelligent document processing (IDP) to the next level.

Curious about AI at Work? You can now explore a new UiPath Academy course ‌for hands-on use cases, exploring Generative AI-powered features. If you look to take things further, get your knowledge elevated and enroll for UiPath Certified Specialized AI Professional.


Oana Chicioroaga
Oana Chicioroaga

RPA Content Manager, UiPath