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2023 Data for Good Speaker Series


DR. ALFRED SPECTOR | Visiting Scholar at MIT and Senior Advisor at Blackstone

Beyond Models – Applying Data Science/AI Effectively

Applying data science and artificial intelligence effectively requires a considerably broader focus
than just data and machine learning. Based on the speaker and his co-authors' recent book
(Data Science in Context, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022), this presentation

distills these additional challenges into a rubric and illustrates its application with a number of
examples. Beyond the rubric, the presentation also presents useful frameworks to help in
making the complex trade-offs that are often inherent in AI and DS

solutions. While the talk should have practical value to those applying AI and DS, it also
illustrates contemporary research challenges.


Dr. Alfred Spector is a Visiting Scholar at MIT and a Senior Advisor at Blackstone. His career
has led him from innovation in large-scale, networked computing systems to broad engineering
and research leadership. Recently, he co-authored a textbook, “Data Science in Context:
Foundations, Challenges, Opportunities.”

Previously, Spector was CTO and Head of Engineering at Two Sigma Investments. Before that,
he spent eight years as VP of Research and Special Initiatives at Google, and he held various
senior-level positions at IBM, including as global VP of Services and Software Research and
global CTO of IBM’s Software Business. Earlier in his career, he founded Transarc Corporation,
a pioneer in distributed transaction processing and wide-area file systems, and he was a tenured
professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Spector is a Hertz Fellow and also a Fellow of both the ACM and the IEEE. He is a member of
the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr.
Spector won the 2001 IEEE Kanai Award for Distributed Computing and the 2016 ACM Software
Systems Award. In 2018-19, Dr. Spector lectured widely as a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar (for
example, on the growing importance of computer science across all disciplines based on the
evocative phrase, “CS+X”). He has been a member of the ACM Turing Award Committee and
has done national service through chairing the NSF’s CISE Advisory Board and membership on
the Army and now the Defense Science Boards. He has had extensive international experience
due to broad responsibilities at IBM, Google, and Two Sigma. Dr. Spector obtained a Ph.D. in
computer science from Stanford and a B.A. in applied math from Harvard.


NILANJAN (NEEL) ADHYA | Chief Digital Officer, BlackRock

Rethinking the Customer Experience in the Age of Digital Disruption

Shifts in consumer behavior driven by digital disruption requires brands to rethink and reimagine
relationships with customers. Shifting brands to become customer experience-centric requires a
fundamental rethinking of the operating model. In his talk, Nilanjan Adhya, will touch on how
organizations can succeed in shaping an experience-centric business model, and how
proficiency with data, design, and engineering can help organizations create great experiences
and shape consumer interaction.


Nilanjan (Neel) Adhya is the Chief Digital Officer of BlackRock — the world’s largest investment
management corporation. In his role, Neel actively collaborates with marketing, design, product,
and sales teams at BlackRock to reimagine all aspects of digital experiences, create new digital
innovations, build great experiences, and accelerate transformation across the digital
ecosystem. He is passionate about blending design, data, and cross-functional teams to create
experiences that people love. Neel has over 25 years of experience working at the intersection
of technology, platforms, and people to help global organizations leverage new business models
and drive growth. Prior to BlackRock, Neel was the Chief Digital Officer of IBM’s Cognitive
Applications Unit and Vice President of Digital Transformation, where he was instrumental in
building the digital platforms that power experiences for IBM’s cloud and AI products.

Neel is a keynote speaker at several digital and innovation-focused industry conferences. He
frequently shares his thinking on building innovative products and driving transformation in his
blog and on LinkedIn. Neel lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife and two kids.


RANGANATH S. NUGGEHALLI | Principal Scientist, UPS

Making of ORION – Sweating the Small Stuff

In 2003, UPS, the leading logistics provider in the world, and long known for its penchant for
efficiency, embarked on a journey to streamline and modernize its pickup and delivery
operations. This journey resulted in the “On Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation
(ORION)” system. ORION provides an optimized route for each of UPS’ 70,000 U.S. drivers
based on the packages to be picked up and delivered on that day. The system creates routes
that maintain the desired level of consistency from day to day. To bring this transformational
system from concept to reality, UPS instituted extensive change management practices to
ensure that both users and executives would accept the system. Costing more than $295 million
to build and deploy, ORION is estimated to save UPS more than $400 million annually. ORION
is also contributing to the sustainability efforts of UPS by reducing its CO 2 emissions by 100,000
tons annually.

This talk will discuss the development of ORION and the hurdles that UPS had to overcome to
make the project successful.


Ranganath Nuggehalli is the Principal Scientist of Operations Research at UPS. His group is
responsible for developing advanced planning systems for use in UPS operations. He joined
UPS in 1990 after completing Ph.D. in Operations Management from Purdue University. His
childhood interest in improving efficiency led him to operations research. Implementing
Operations Research based planning systems is his passion. Unfortunately, he is yet to learn
that life is not an optimization process. His research interests are routing and scheduling,
network modeling, location analysis, system integration, and computer-human interfaces.

He is a laureate of the Franz Edelman Academy and an Institute for Operations Research and
Management Science (INFORMS) Fellow. He is a current board member of the INFORMS
Practice Section.

If you go to his house, you may not get food; but you will always get good wine.


TIM JACOBS, PHD, PE | Director of Research Science, Amazon

Freight Capacity Portfolio Design in Amazon’s Two-Sided Freight Marketplace

In the Amazon linehaul transportation marketplace, Amazon acquires capacity to ship
truckloads in its middle mile network and provides capacity to external shippers. Because of
Amazon’s high shipment volumes and commitment to rapid delivery of goods to customers,
some capacity is most efficiently acquired long before it is utilized, while some capacity is best
acquired immediately preceding its use. Amazon’s large internal demand for linehaul shipping
means that Amazon is well-positioned to do this, acquiring a portion of capacity through medium
and long-term contracts before specific demand for that capacity is identified while delaying the
acquisition of dynamically priced spot capacity for highly uncertain demand. At Amazon, we
have developed a transportation marketplace, and a series of models and tools, that allow
Amazon to use pricing levers to optimize its transportation capacity portfolio. This approach
enables Amazon to effectively align capacity risk, supply risk, and price, and to provide carriers
and shippers with tools to effectively manage their operations. We give an overview of this
marketplace and survey some of the models that we have built to balance and price our
capacity portfolio.


Tim Jacobs is the Director of Research Science, Middle Mile Planning Research, and
Optimization Science for Amazon. At Amazon, Tim’s teams oversee the research and
development of mathematical optimization, Generative AI and machine learning applications,
and strategic initiatives for middle-mile air and ground logistics worldwide. Tim leads strategic
development efforts including the modeling and analysis supporting the design and operation of
Amazon’s air and surface networks. His team focuses on the development of innovative
algorithms and applications to design and manage the world’s largest integrated air, trucking,
rail, and maritime transport business. Previously, Tim held several executive positions at
American Airlines, US Airways, and Sabre. Tim received his doctorate in Operations Research
and Engineering Systems from Purdue University. He continues to pursue new research
initiatives, has authored more than 35 refereed publications, holds multiple U.S. patents within
the airline and supply chain industry, and is a licensed Professional Engineer.



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