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Confirmed Speakers

Confirmed speakers include:

Prashant Mehrotra
Head of AI Center of Excellence

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in Enterprise – Hype to Execution

prashantArtificial Intelligence is the new buzzword that has transcended technology to every business executive. Most vendors claim to have AI capabilities built in their product and every other tech startup is focused on building AI capabilities in their product from ground up.

The recent advances have created a unique opportunity to leverage AI to better serve your customer, reduce cost, and improve customer experience across all touch points. This discussion highlights some key considerations on how to leverage these technologies across your organization.

Prashant Mehrotra leads the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence at Allstate Insurance. He received his Bachelors in Technology from IIT Delhi, India. He led various technology functions at Staples Inc before joining Capital One to lead their Data Services team for the Credit Card division. In his current role he is building new AI services and capabilities at Allstate to improve customer experience and operational efficiencies.

Jon Owen, CAP
Director of Operations Research Lab

An Exploration of Artificial Intelligence in Business Decision Modeling

Jon OwenJonathan H. Owen is Chief Scientist of Operations Research and Advanced Analytics at General Motors Global Research & Development and Director of Operations Research. Jon earned his MS and PhD degrees at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s General Management Program. He holds multiple patents and has authored chapters and articles appearing in Operations Research, Interfaces, International Journal of Production Research, Mathematical Programming, Discrete Applied Mathematics, Annals of Operations Research, and others.  Jon represents GM on the INFORMS Roundtable and serves on its Board of Directors; he has previously served on INFORMS’ Board as VP Practice and on the Analytics Certification Board. In addition to GM’s highest internal awards, Jon’s contributions have been recognized by INFORMS as an Edelman Award winner, Wagner Prize finalist, and recently as leader of GM’s team awarded the 2016 INFORMS Prize for its ‘sustained track record of innovative and impactful applied operations research and advanced analytics.’

Sagar Sahasrabudhe
Lead Decision Scientist

AI & Food Delivery: Making Decisions at Scale

sagar headshot

Sagar is currently leading a team of operation researchers and data scientists at Grubhub. Sagar joined Grubhub in May 2016. Before Grubhub he worked in options trading industry for 5 years building statistical signals for optimal automated trading strategies and portfolio optimization. Sagar holds a PhD in Physics from Northwestern University. His research focussed on dynamical evolution of complex networks. He devised local systematic perturbations that appeared to be harmful at local level but that would eventually drive the network to desirable global state. Prior to that Sagar completed his undergraduate education in India from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

At Grubhub Sagar leads a team that is responsible for creating models to automate decision making at scale in the food delivery marketplace. Sagar has a breadth of experience in developing machine learning models and designing practical optimization algorithms in multiple industries.

Dan Pikelny
VP & Chief Analytics Officer

Dan PikelnyPredictive Analytics in a Manufacturing Organization

Dan Pikelny is the Chief Analytics Officer for Navistar, managing the enterprise-wide analytics function supporting all areas of the 185-year old, multi-billion dollar global manufacturing company. He leads a team of data scientists, engineers, and analysts working to improve the company’s ability to model, predict, and improve decision making and operational performance across all levels. The goal is to develop a competitive advantage for Navistar by leveraging data from areas such as sales and marketing, quality and engineering, and IoT telematics data from over 400,000 vehicles.

Dan’s prior background includes experience in the human resources function, leading Compensation, Benefits, and other ancillary functions and supporting the business through the development and implementation of HR strategies and the management of organizational change. Prior to Navistar, he led an analytics consulting group for a health plan and provided operations research consulting in the pharmaceutical industry.

Dan’s academic background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University in applied math and economics, as well as an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Machine Learning Opportunities for External Data

The Food Genius team has been experimenting with machine learning approaches to help US Foods’ customers be more successful. We’ll share a few stories and tips we’ve gathered on our journey.Chuck Sample


Chuck Sample
VP, Insight & Analytics

Chuck SampleAs Vice President of Insight & Analytics for US Foods, the second largest foodservice distributor in the USA, Chuck heads up a 100-person team with an enterprise-wide mandate. His team’s operating model includes Data Sciences, Forecasting, Business Insights, BI Strategy, R&D and Data Governance. As the engagement leader for the US Foods CookBook initiative, he is responsible for enabling the USF customer-centric vision by embedding prescriptive analytics in critical business decisions through the integration of strategy, process, technology, predictive modeling and change management. In 2016, Chuck led the effort to acquire Food Genius, a Chicago-based company, to jump-start USF’s deep learning capabilities, accelerate open-source maturity, and create a R&D team of strategists, data scientists and software developers. Food Genius is now an integrated part of the Insights & Analytics ecosystem. Prior to joining US Foods, Chuck led loyalty marketing for True Value and, before that, strategy, insights and predictive analytics teams for consulting and service companies supporting the retail and B2B industries.


David Falck
Executive Director

David Falck is a technology leader with a well-rounded skill set built upon a foundation of software engineering and startup experiences. He relies on his experiences in R&D, consulting, management, operations, and sales, from his tenure at startups as well as multi-billion-dollar global enterprises like He’s currently leading a crack team of data scientists and software engineers at Food Genius who gather data and produce “outside insight” that helps US Foods’ customers succeed.

Opex Analytics

Michael Watson
CEO & Founder

Mike Watson

Reinventing your Business with AI

Many firms are using AI to reinvent what they do and how they operate.  This talk will give you a solid definition of AI– so you can understand what it is, how we got to this point, and how different groups are using the term.  Then, we will go on to show different uses of AI, what the AI mindset is all about, and how you can successfully deploy AI.  This talk will have plenty of examples from industries.  The speaker teaches graduate classes at Northwestern, is an author, and works with many Fortune 500 firms.  

Michael is a recognized leader in analytics and supply chain optimization. He was an early employee and officer in the company LogicTools which was sold to ILOG in 2007 and IBM in 2009. While at IBM, he was the worldwide business leader for network design, inventory, and routing solutions. During this time, he was personally involved in all aspects of the business from helping customers implement to designing software.

He is the co-author of the book “Managerial Analytics” which was released in December, 2013 and helps explain the field of analytics to managers. He is the co-author of the book “Supply Chain Network Design,” which was published in 2012 and is being used by practitioners and a number of universities.

He is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University teaching graduate level courses in the McCormick School of Engineering for the Master in Engineering Management and the Master of Science in Analytics program. He has been teaching at Northwestern since 1999. Michael completed his PhD at Northwestern University in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences.

Aureo Zanon
Senior Manager, Predictive Data Analytics

Aureo ZanonApplying AI techniques to improve Safety and Productivity at United Airlines

We will explore the application of AI techniques such as text analytics, employee injuries predictive modeling and computer vision using deep neural networks to improve Safety and Productivity at United Airlines. The following use cases will be presented:

  • Extracting sentiment and emotions from employee safety reports to identify risks and prioritize corrective and preventive actions.
  • Targeting communication with operational teams to support employee injuries prevention.
  • Detecting ground service equipment and actions planeside to identify potential safety hazards and improve turn productivity.

Aureo is a Senior Manager of Predictive Data Analytics working for the United Airlines Corporate Safety division. His team focus on the use of advanced data analytics techniques to leverage Quality, Productivity and Safety for the airline. He joined United Airlines headquarters in Chicago as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and later worked for the Technical Operations division leading teams working on aircraft spare parts ownership and allocation optimization. He also supported the Airport Operations division on Resource Planning.

Before joining the airline industry Aureo had multiple technical and leadership roles at Motorola in Brazil working on Quality Engineering, Corporate Research (Motorola Labs), Industrial Engineering and Factory Capacity Optimization. He started his professional career at General Electric in Brazil as a member of the Technical Leadership Program. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering with majors in Computational Mechanics and Manufacturing Engineering and graduate degrees in Optimization, Quality and Industrial Engineering from UNICAMP (Brazil). An alumnus of the EAESP-FGV CEAG program in Business Administration and Project Management specialist from FIA-FEA-USP in Brazil. He also holds a graduate degree in Applied Statistics from the Pennsylvania State University where he is currently working on a graduate degree in Data Analytics and cumulating credits to join a PhD program in the future. He is also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt from the American Society for Quality. At United Airlines his team is currently working on multiple analytics applications ranging from Data Visualization, Text Analytics, Computer Vision and Predictive Safety modeling to generate target communication as a way to prevent employee injuries and aircraft damages.

Kristen Daihes
Partner, Opex Analytics

Panelist: Ethics of AI & AI’s Impact on the Workforce 

Kristen is a subject matter expert in supply chain strategy and planning. Throughout her career she has been responsible for leading focused transformation initiatives to develop capabilities and infrastructure to create value across enterprises, enabling growth while driving improvement in customer service and inventory. Kristen has a passion for leveraging her practitioner experience to help companies accelerate their journey in AI

As Vice President of Global Supply Chain for SC Johnson, she lead demand and supply planning, order management, customer supply chain, logistics and transportation. She had direct responsibility for planning in over 20 factories and hundreds of third party manufacturers, as well as operations of over 100 warehouses globally. While leading supply chain strategy for Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars, she developed and deployed end-to-end strategies for operational excellence and lead supply chain sourcing and capacity activities to support the global business. She assessed special projects including the viability of new facilities, expansion and rationalization of existing facilities, and global capacity analysis. Kristen also held strategic planning, supply chain management, innovation, and electrical engineering roles for Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

Kristen completed her MBA at the University of Chicago and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from Purdue University.


Lara Kattan

Panelist: Ethics of AI & AI’s Impact on the Workforce 

Lara is a senior data scientist and instructor at Metis, a full-time data-science bootcamp. She teaches a broad spectrum of topics from the data scientist toolbox, starting at linear regression and proceeding through neural nets and big-data tools like Hadoop. Bootcamp students come from a variety of backgrounds but all have the goal of transitioning to a data-science career.
She comes to Metis from McKinsey, where she worked with financial institutions on risk modeling. Prior to settling into the practical world of consulting, Lara received a master’s from the University of Chicago, where she had the privilege of thinking about problems with no real-world implications. There her passion for unstructured thinking and novel problem solving were nurtured and she took the lessons learned with her into conference rooms and PowerPoint decks. The statistical and mathematical elegance of data science are what animate her the most, but she gets her biggest joy from demystifying the rigorous mathematics for all audiences. If forced to snap out of her mathematical reveries, she’s probably doing yoga, riding a bike, or drinking too much coffee.