CEO Amir Husain founded SparkCognition with the desire to build a company that would be at the forefront of the “AI 3.0” revolution. An undisputed tech leader in Austin and in the industry at large, Amir built multiple venture-funded startups between 1999 and 2009, at which point he took over as President and CEO of VDIworks. For his inventions, Amir has been awarded 22 US patents and has over 40 pending patent applications. He serves as advisor and board member to several major institutions, including IBM Watson, University of Texas Department of Computer Science, Makerarm, ClearCube Technology, uStudio and others; and his work has been published in leading tech journals, including Network World, IT Today, and Computer World. In 2015, Amir was named Austin’s Top Technology Entrepreneur of the Year.
Wendy R. Anderson is the General Manager of Defense and National Security, where she leads the company’s defense, aerospace, homeland security, and intelligence business. From 2010 to 2015, Anderson served in the Obama administration in key leadership roles in the Departments of Defense and Commerce, including as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and Chief of Staff to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. While at the Defense Department, Anderson was twice awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Department’s highest civilian service award, presented by Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel.
Stuart Gillen is currently the Director of Business Development at SparkCognition. In this role, he is responsible for driving business engagements, partner development, marketing activities, and go-to market strategy. Areas of specialty include IoT architectures, platforms, and technologies. Gillen also focuses on how advanced data analytics can be applied to Asset Performance Management to optimize efficiency, maintenance and safety on critical infrastructure. Gillen previously worked for National Instruments as their Condition Monitoring Business Owner. As leader of this team he was responsible for driving the overall strategy of the NI, Condition Monitoring platform including setting and delivering on the overall growth plan. Gillen earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and M.B.A from Kansas State University.
Randy Groves is an experienced technical executive, having held C-level and VP positions at some of the most prestigious technology companies in the world, including IBM and Dell. Randy holds a Masters of Electrical Engineering from University of Texas at Austin, a Masters in Management of Technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelors of Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University.
Philippe Herve joined SparkCognition as the VP of Solutions. He is a multilingual executive with U.S. and international success in operations, technology, business development, marketing, sales, and client relations. Herve started working with artificial intelligence in 1985. Herve’s comprehensive experience in oil and gas spans large-scale project leadership, IT, engineering, manufacturing, and operations. Herve holds multiple patents for the use of ultrasonic energy in well inspections, and has authored many technical papers. He is a member of professional organizations including the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Over the years, Herve has frequently been published in Bloomberg, Oil & Gas Journal, Journal of Petroleum Technology, World Oil, The Houston Chronicle, Drilling Contractor, and is a frequent speaker on diverse management and engineering subjects.
Sumant Kawale holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where he was a Fellow of the Center for Global Business and Government, an MSEE from Drexel University, and a BSEE from University of Mumbai. Kawale has held leadership roles in the semiconductor and mobile communication industries, and most recently served as Project Leader at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Kawale is responsible for channel partnerships, customer delivery, and market strategy at SparkCognition.
John King drives the development and execution of SparkCognition’s external affairs, including marketing, communications, public affairs, and media strategy. Prior to joining SparkCognition, King served as the Director of Clean Energy and Power Technology at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, where he led collaborative efforts with the region’s clean energy industry stakeholders in building Austin’s clean energy economy. A third-generation Austinite, King has been recognized for his industry and community leadership by the Austin Business Journal’s 2013 “Who’s Who in Energy” list, and by the Young Men’s Business League and Young Woman’s Alliance as the 2013 Austin Under 40 Awardee for Science and Technology. King is an Advisory Board Member for SXSW Eco, and he has served as Chair of the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce (AYC), Vice Chair of CleanTX, as a Board Director for Pecan Street Inc., and as the Chair of the City of Austin’s Economic Prosperity Commission.
A two-time Chair of the University of Texas Computer Science Department, Dr. Bruce Porter serves as SparkCognition’s Chief Science Officer, where he leads the company’s many R&D initiatives. Currently, as University Professor, Dr. Porter research focuses on machine reading, a technology that holds tremendous potential for capturing knowledge for automated inference, question answering, explanation generation, and other AI capabilities. Dr. Porter also directs UT’s Knowledge Systems Research Group, an AI organization with the goal to develop methods to build knowledgeable computers. He has won the Best Paper Award at the National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award, the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award, and the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award.
Randy brings more than 30 years of IT industry experience in enterprise software, desktop solutions, and storage. He served as CEO of ClearCube Technologies and in senior leadership positions at Dell, Adaptec, and SCI Sanmina. Randy continues to be instrumental in company growth, taking SparkCognition from startup to setting the gold standard in big data, natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence “AI” algorithms. His overall responsibilities at SparkCognition include operations, finance, HR, driving strategic execution, and creating best practices of company processes and services.
As Vice President for Aerospace and Automotive at SparkCognition, Mark Roboff works across both industries to realize the potential of next-generation AI to solve critical problems and unlock new opportunities to save, pivot, and grow business worldwide. Mark brings over fifteen years of software and AI leadership to SparkCognition, with a career split between startups and technology giants. Prior to joining SparkCognition in October 2017, Mark was an early leader in IBM Watson Group, serving in global positions across technical sales, business development, and industry solution design. Most recently, Mark served as IBM’s Global Solution Leader for Aerospace and Automotive, leading the design and go-to-market for transformative cognitive solutions in manufacturing and maintenance optimization. Mark is a lifelong aviation geek and car lover, and lives to share his joint passions of flying, driving, and delivering next-generation AI.
Conny Ruthven brings 18+ years of legal experience to her position as general counsel at SparkCognition. Her involvement in the tech sector has been consistent, as she has served many technology companies in Austin as in-house and outside corporate counsel. Conny has guided many start-ups in various industries to their success by offering pragmatic legal and financial advice. Prior to joining SparkCognition, she was in private practice and before that, she served as senior vice president of administration, general counsel, and corporate secretary for a digital marketing and online advertising company. After helping negotiate its acquisition, Ruthven went on to open her own law practice in Austin. In addition to being a licensed attorney, Conny is also a C.P.A.
Suzanne is responsible for the financial strategy of SparkCognition. Suzanne has worked at various healthcare technology-enabled companies serving as both COO and CFO aiding them in their turnaround or growth strategies, consistently increasing both the top-line revenue and profitability.
As General Manager Industrial IoT (IIoT), Usman Shuja is responsible for SparkCognition’s Industrial IoT business and oversees its GTM strategy and product offerings. Shuja joined SparkCognition in early 2013 as the founding executive and Vice President of Market Development to lead the revenue organization. In this role, he led sales, marketing, partnerships, and customer success teams from the pre-revenue stage, focusing on enterprise clients across energy, aerospace, and manufacturing. Prior to SparkCognition, he worked as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and in software development and sales roles at IBM. Shuja serves on the US advisory board for the International Cricket Council (ICC), cricket’s world governing body; Dover Energy IIoT; and HotelKey, a hotel management software company.
Tina Thibodeau currently leads the strategic alliances organization with overall responsibility for growing revenue through partnerships and channels. Prior to joining SparkCognition, Thibodeau led the services provider partnership team at GE Digital, developing successful partnerships with global service provider leaders like AT&T, Verizon, and BT. She also led emerging-market partnerships at Salesforce, which included IoT, Mobility, and Cyber Security partners. Prior to Salesforce, Thibodeau spent over 15 years at Avaya, Lucent and AT&T in various sales leadership and high-tech consulting roles. She holds a business degree from the University of Oklahoma and resides in the Dallas area with her husband and two daughters.
General John R. Allen serves on SparkCognition’s Board as Executive Board Member. As one of the United States’ leading and most seasoned wartime commanders, Gen. Allen served the nation as a Marine Corps four-star General, and as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). On 13 September 2014, President Barack Obama appointed Gen. Allen as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.
Steve Nordlund serves on SparkCognition’s Board as Chairman. Steve Nordlund is vice president, Strategy, for Defense, Space and Security. He formerly served as vice president, Unmanned Airborne Systems Programs, where he led that business’s strategy and capabilities development. Prior to this, Nordlund was director of Business Development for the Global Strike Division of Boeing Military Aircraft. Before joining Boeing, Nordlund helped launch Insitu, Inc., which develops the ScanEagle and Integrator unmanned aerial systems. Before joining the Aerospace and Defense industry, Nordlund held sales and marketing positions at IBM and was the chief information officer for his alma mater, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Pankaj Patel serves on SparkCognition’s Board as a Board Member. Pankaj Patel is a seasoned technology leader with more than 25 years of experience developing highly scalable products and services by building and leading high-performance global engineering organizations. Patel served as the Chief Development Officer of Global Engineering and Executive Vice President at Cisco Systems, Inc. from August 2012 to August 6, 2016. Patel held multiple executive leadership roles throughout his tenure at Cisco since first joining the company in 1996. Prior to Cisco, he held senior management positions at Apollo Computer/HP, Digital Equipment Corporation, Stratacom and Redback. Patel holds director positions with multiple technology companies where he is focused on incubating, building, scaling, and advising startups with their strategy and go-to-market.
Manoj Saxena serves on SparkCognition’s Board as a Board Member. Manoj is a serial entrepreneur, innovator, and racing enthusiast with a passion for moving fast and building outstanding companies. Between 1998-2006, Manoj founded and served as CEO of two successful venture-funded software startups (acquired by IBM and CommerceOne). He later served as General Manager at IBM Watson (2011-2014), where his team built the world’s first cognitive systems in healthcare, financial services, and retail. In addition to his role at SparkCognition, Manoj is currently a founding partner of The Entrepreneurs’ Fund IV.