Plamen Petrov is a 2007 MEM graduate and the new CTO of the Cognitive Analytics™ group of Deloitte Consulting LLP. You’ve probably heard of consulting powerhouse Deloitte, but you might not know about Deloitte Consulting Innovation (DCI), the area within the firm responsible for identifying, incubating, developing, sourcing, and adopting disruptive innovation in the markets where Deloitte operates.
As you can imagine, this area is at the cutting edge of a rapidly changing global business environment. Plamen will be involved in defining and executing its entire technology strategy.
Keep reading to learn how he got the job, what DCI is all about, and the advice this successful MEM alum would give to current students.
By Plamen Petrov and Jessica Tackett
As expected at this phase in my career – through my network. I had previously worked with some of the people and had mutual respect. When I learned about the opportunity, I reached out and expressed interest. Interestingly enough, one of the hiring partners was one of my references when I applied to the MEM program years ago.
Can you tell us a bit more about what Deloitte Consulting Innovation does?
Deloitte Consulting Innovation develops and assembles products, solutions and platforms that solve some of the hardest problems that businesses across different industries encounter in their daily activities. Cognitive Analytics is an exciting area of disruptive innovation and organic growth for Deloitte at the multi-disciplinary intersection of cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics, big data, visualization and cloud computing.
Can you give us an example of something DCI is working in at the moment?
A set of technologies that were nurtured in academic and research labs over the last two to three decades are coming of age and available for innovation leaders to commercialize, bring into the enterprises, and use to disrupt the traditional marketplaces. Methodologies and technologies like cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing and ontology engineering, when integrated with engineering advances in big data, database and storage technologies, and cloud computing, and applied in a creative way to business processes and operations, allow leading companies to extract competitive knowledge and insight from the volumes of data and outrun their competitors.
Data has already become the lifeline that makes a business operate in the twenty-first century, however the volume, variety and velocity of data has started overwhelming many corporations—too much data arriving too frequently in too many different formats for the traditional analysis techniques and tools to be able to keep up with. Radically new techniques and tools are necessary to transform the raw data into valuable assets and that’s where Cognitive Analytics comes to the rescue.
Are you excited about the new role?
Very much so. It is in a very exciting growth area and is on the leading edge of technology. There are a lot of expectations to provide both technology and thought leadership, but also to structure a team and execute on a strategy. It is challenging, intensive, but also very exciting.
Did you know you would eventually want this type of position when you enrolled in the MEM program?
Generally yes—this is the type of position that I wanted to grow into and enrolling in the MEM program was part of my preparation. I credit the knowledge and tools acquired through attending the MEM program as a major component in allowing me to succeed. Cognitive Analytics is both a highly technical engineering discipline and a very business intensive domain.
In addition, the CTO role requires the ability to manage projects, perform estimations, develop business cases, negotiate and sell them to key stakeholders, segment and estimate the target market, define the product features, market them to potential customers, plan and manage the finances and report of the budgets—all skills, techniques, and tools taught and mastered as part of the core MEM curriculum. I think the mix of technical, business, financial and human system learning focus of the MEM program helped prepare me for my work at Deloitte.
What was your favorite part of the MEM program?
My favorite part was that the program was very knowledge intensive and not watered down in terms of analytical and math sophistication. It was also very practical and hands on. It taught the core business skills required to become a technology leader (accounting, marketing, finance, operations, etc.) without specializing in functional areas that were not part of my interest (unlike a traditional MBA program). And also my classmates were great and a very beneficial aspect. The fact that the students had engineering and science background kept the classes challenging and analytical and students generally had similar academic and professional interests.
What advice would you give to current students?
To focus on their studies, enjoy the incredible learning, and be confident that their investment in the MEM education is quite worth it. The MEM education and credentials open up a lot of exciting opportunities, especially in a business environment that increasingly values engineering, analytical, and technology sophistication in addition to business acumen and leadership skills. The program allows you to stay relevant and engaged with engineering and technology advances, while learning the basics of how to manage an organization and run a business. And as a bonus, the MEM program draws on analytical and math savvy students, expected to have mastered probability, statistics and advanced mathematics in their undergraduate studies. In the end, this ensures that graduates can comfortably thrive in complex engineering, quantitative, and highly technical areas.