Big Data Innovator Spotlight Series: Mike Adler, Principal at KPMG

The third and final of our Big Data Innovator Series took place on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016, with guest speaker Mike Adler sharing his wisdom and experience with a collection of students, staff, and faculty.

As a Principal in KPMG’s Insurance Management Consulting practice, Mike has significant experience working with leading insurance and financial services companies to drive transformation leveraging digital, data, analytics, technology, and best operational practices.

He started in accounting after graduating from Pace in 1988. It wasn’t long before he began to feel he needed to get into a new area – technology. “Computer science at the time was starting to evolve,” he said.

mike-adler-3He spent many years working at IBM, including working on Watson. He described how the famous artificial intelligence computer works by explaining that you give it enough information that it can begin to make connections and learn by itself. “You bring in all this data and content; you start teaching Watson what’s important. You teach it the relationships between different pieces of information. Watson starts to learn from that. You teach Watson to be a kindergarten student and Watson learns to become an elementary student, a high school student, and a college student.”

While they were on the topic of data, Dean Hill took the opportunity to ask Mike to give his definition of what big data is. “Big data includes things like social media, all forms of unstructured data, video – anything that you can use that relates to content. The challenge is working out how to get through that mass of information, which is growing exponentially every year, and find the nuggets you can use to make decisions.”

The challenge is a great one. It is estimated that the volume of unstructured data doubles each year, making big data enterprise analytics – the ability to sort through, understand, learn from, and recommend paths of action to take based on that data – is becoming an increasingly sought after skill set.

One of the really cool things Mike spoke about was KPMG’s Innovation Lab located in SoHo. “You walk in and you feel like you’re walking into a WeWork. They use the space to do a lot of Design Thinking and facilitation with clients, but also to do research in technologies and the future.”

After opening the New York Design Factory just a few months ago at Seidenberg, we were delighted to hear that design thinking is being practiced in big companies like KPMG!

“I’m very confident that you are getting some great experiences here, particularly around the technologies and architectures and how to apply them,” Mike said about the Pace education. However, it’s just as important to learn soft skills alongside technical ones. “I’ve found out – sometimes the good way, sometimes the hard way – that soft skills are equally as important.”

Mike is a big proponent of what he called “taking appropriate risks.”

“Before, we were taught to find out what the client wants, what the user wants, and deliver it to them. Now, though, it can be better to take appropriate risks – to say ‘I know this is what you want, but how about this?’ Think about a clean slate approach, think about a vision for the future, and be prepared to take risks around that.”

mike-adler-1What gives him the most pride about his career? “The risks I took. Going from a corporate environment to a consulting environment. When I joined Watson, I had no idea how it was going to take off or what it was going to do, but I took a risk, told myself it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m very glad I did. I’m also very proud of the client relationships I’ve built. In my business, it’s all about the clients and your relationship with them. I wake up every day thinking about who my clients are, what I can bring to them that I haven’t, what my team can do, and what new clients I might get. All my career, I’ve been very focused on mentoring people. I want people to succeed (or fail) with the appropriate guidance. I encourage you to put most of your energy around your clients and the people that work with, for, or around you.”

He also discussed how when you join a new company, the people already established there can be wary about new technology, and that soft skills can help overcome that challenge. Knowing how to help people respond to changes or new ideas is incredibly useful in the technology world. For example, helping the general population learn about why Watson is so significant.

“How do we get Watson to relate to the masses?” Mike asked. “Watson now has its own cookbook!” The idea is that by creating something familiar in an unfamiliar way can open the doors between two separate mindsets. “Technology opens people’s minds.”

A huge thank you to Mike for coming to visit us and sharing such excellent wisdom and advice. Thanks also go out to Deth Sao for organizing this fantastic speaker series!

Previous speakers in the series were David Kelly (MS Information Systems ’94) and Jason Molfetas (BS Computer Science ’87).

Learn design thinking with IBM

Hey, you! Interested in an event at none other than IBM this month? Want to learn a useful new skill? Then check out this workshop!

WHAT: IBM Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human centered approach to complex problem solving. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually a great way of making solving problems simpler. In this workshop, some of IBM’s best and brightest “design thinkers” will train you in this useful technique. You will learn approaches that have you experiencing a new way of thinking that will help you with classes, projects, theses, and much more.

You will receive a certificate for completing this workshop!

WHEN: Friday, March 11, 2016, 10:30am-3:00pm

WHERE: IBM, 294 NY-100, Somers, NY 10589

TRANSPORT: We will have a Pace shuttle departing from the Pace Pleasantville campus at 9:30am and returning at approximately 4:00pm. Students from the Pace NYC campus should plan to arrive @ PLV campus by 9:30am at the latest.

PROGRAM INFORMATION:

This 4 hour workshop will introduce students to a different way of thinking and working collaboratively in order to solve problems.  The workshop will be run by IBM design thinking experts.

Students will be exposed to the design thinking framework and guided to apply the framework to solve a problem – the problem description is included below, though students can also bring in their own problem. Students will have the opportunity to present their ideas/solutions to the their client, town of Germantown. In addition, the students will receive certificates for workshop competition from IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.

PROBLEM DESCRIPTION:

The town of Germantown, located in Columbia County NY, is nestled on the east bank of the Hudson River 100 miles north of New York City. Over 2,000 Germantown residents enjoy a quiet, family-centered lifestyle in the country with easy access to the river for boating, fishing and viewing spectacular sunsets behind the Catskill Mountains. Boaters and fishing fans have two access points to the Hudson River:  Cheviot Park off County Rd. 9G and Lasher Memorial Park in North Germantown.

There are several acres of undeveloped waterfront property either owned by the town or the State. The town is interested ideas for utilizing the waterfront land, which takes into consideration the potential high-speed rail that may be built along the Hudson River to link New York City and Albany.

REGISTRATION:

Please register by March 7, 2016 here: http://conta.cc/1pl0MZj

Seats are limited.

QUESTIONS:

Interested students can direct their questions to Andreea Cotoranu, acotoranu@pace.edu or 914-773-3193

Sabiya’s spending her summer interning at IBM, New York.

SabiyaBacchus_Seidenberg1. Who are you working with this summer (… and what do they do?)

Securing a paid summer internship is easier said than done. Luckily for me, I landed an exceptional opportunity with one of the largest computer companies in the world, IBM. IBM is a multinational technology and consulting corporation that offers a wide range of products and services.

2. Can you tell us a little about what you are doing? (We might not understand the technicalities, but we’d love details!)

My four-month internship this summer revolves around the Security Intelligence Software Group that focuses on QRadar Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) products.  QRadar SIEM provides solutions that give security analysts the visibility they need to protect their networks. In addition, it provides reliable tamper proof log storage for forensic investigations and evidence use. In fact, just recently IBM’s Security QRadar product was recognized as number one by the 2014 Gartner SIEM Quadrant, topping other companies like HP and McAfee!

The really awesome aspect of my internship is that I work remotely, which means I can work from wherever I want, including my own home! My internship is divided into two parts. The first includes learning about QRadar SIEM product by attending QRadar classes online, reviewing manuals, completing labs, and familiarizing myself with information technology concepts and terminology. The second part involves me shadowing my coworkers out in the field as they deploy new systems, upgrade existing systems or do health checks to improve/fix existing systems for our clients. I am scheduled to do my first visit next week. I will shadow one of the senior consultants as he deploys a new system for Harley Davidson in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

3. Is there a particular class or professor at Seidenberg that has helped you prepare specifically for your current internship? (Clearly, we’re all about shout outs this summer!)

My boss was excited to know that I was taking Fundamentals of Unix and C Programming (CS 271).

 4. Does your new office have a favorite restaurant/hangout they go to after work? (No! we’re not going to show up like proud parents!) 

I work from home. I just moved to East Harlem so I am still exploring the restaurants around my apartment.

 5. Does working at IBM live up to the hype? Like Google or Microsoft?

After visiting the offices of IBM, Google and Microsoft, I think they each have different cultures. I work from the comfort of my home (and it does not get any better than that). It’s pretty awesome not having to worry about catching or missing trains and dealing with unpleasant people face to face. I enjoy rolling out of my bed 10 minutes before I start work.

6. Any advice for the Seidenberg community?

This experience will help sharpen my communication and professionalism skills, expose me to the corporate world, and provide me with a wealth of knowledge and new talents.

Before I applied to IBM, I thought I was not good enough for them. However, here I am as their intern. My advice to everyone out there is stop being your worst antagonist. In fact, throw yourself into different situations and work hard to achieve the best possible outcomes. That way you will learn from every opportunity and you will be closer to success.

Working from the comfort of my home, not having to deal with transportation, obtaining a wealth of knowledge and getting paid—-nothing can beat that. IBM is awesome!

Sabiya Bacchus is in the penultimate year of a bachelors in Computer Science degree at the Seidenberg School. She’s also associated with the Pforzheimer Honors College, at Pace University

Seidenberg Enrolls 14 IBM India Students

Fourteen IBM India employees are pursuing an M.S. in Computer Science under a newly formed partnership between the University and the corporation.  The students, who are scattered all over India, take classes online along with their counterparts in the U.S. and are expected to complete their degrees in five semesters. Continue reading “Seidenberg Enrolls 14 IBM India Students”

Faculty Member Receives IBM Smarter Planet Innovation Grant

Christelle ScharffProfessor Christelle Scharff is one of only 50 faculty throughout the world to receive an IBM Smarter Planet Innovation Grant. The $10,000 grant will be used to further collaboration among students at  Pace with students from universities in Cambodia, India and Senegal to develop mobile and Web solutions to pressing global problems in transportation, health care and education. Continue reading “Faculty Member Receives IBM Smarter Planet Innovation Grant”