E17 – Michael Heller – Building an AI Company with Cognitive Enterprise Transformation

Michael Heller

Brace yourselves! We are going to take a deep dive into the world of data science and AI in this episode with CDAO & Chief Data Scientist of IBM’s Westpac Integrated Account Michael Heller. 

Michael is a visionary data scientist with more than 14 years of experience in the field of data science, beginning with quantitative finance and eventually finding his way to cognitive computing. 

As the cognitive and data leader for IBM’s Westpac relationship, he is responsible for technical leadership of all things data and AI across his client’s global footprint, including big data and advanced analytics, intelligent automation, and cognitive enterprise transformation.

Before stepping into the role of CDAO & Chief Data Scientist, he performed some other very important roles at IBM, such as Sr. Managing Data Scientist & Applied AI Engineer and Technical Program Architect & Cognitive Analytics Lead for IBM’s internal GDPR program. 

Prior to joining IBM, he served as the Head of Data Science Innovation & Research at PNC, an American bank holding company and financial services corporation.

His visionary entrepreneurial zeal was also visible quite early in his career when he founded two back to back enterprises — The Little Brother Project and the Coin Market Group, LLC. 

Little Brother was a big data and machine learning project heavily geared toward Natural Language Processing (NLP), econometric forecasting, and demographic analysis. Coin Market Group (CMG) was, on the other hand, focused on cryptographic and digital currency space. CMG has developed quite a few innovations in the field of cryptocurrency. 

Academically, he has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance, international business, and physics from New York University. 

In this episode, Michael and Jason traverse both the practical and philosophical worlds revolving around all things data science. 

Michael reveals to us his visions into the future of AI and the very real possibilities of developing something of the likes of Data from Star Trek or J.A.R.V.I.S. of Iron Man. 

He believes that there are no real limits to the capabilities that solutions like IBM Watson can acquire. As long as humans keep aspiring for solving problems, the AI also will keep improving and solve newer problems. 

On the business front too, we get tons of new knowledge from Michael. He explains in very clear terms and with real-life examples about the practicality of cognitive enterprise transformation and how it is different from the more prevalent digital enterprise transformation. 

Hint: It’s about making your digital transformation data-driven.

Michael says that if we’re going to get to that cognitive enterprise, we have to rethink the way we do things. We have to embed AI in the way that we do things and that involves the workflow decisions and the automation of the end-to-end process.

On the other hand, from the talks on his career progression and life as an entrepreneur, we get some real pearls of wisdom for struggling entrepreneurs and what it really takes to do data science effectively in the world of business. And, why a vast majority of businesses are not doing it the right way!

You must not miss this one. Hit play right now! 

More links about the guest

LinkedIn Profile URL:

What is one book that he would gift to his younger self:

  • Designing Data-Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann


Company Profile:


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