Photo of IBM Fellow Elpida Tzortzatos

Elpida Tzortzatos

IBM Distinguished Engineer, IBM Z Architect

Through her three decades at IBM, Elpida has excelled in innovation, adding speed, security and scalability to a wide range of computer technologies.

Would you share a bit about your background?

I was born in Greece. There was political turbulence in the mid-1970s, and we had an uncle living on Long Island. He sponsored us. The immigration process took three years, but our whole family — my parents and the four girls — moved here in 1979. It was a difficult transition to come to the United States as a teenager, and it took me about a year to get proficient in English. But I excelled in math, which is pretty much the same everywhere. I went to college at New York University, and majored in computer science and math. It was pretty clear that computer science would be more useful for getting a job, and I loved the problem-solving aspect of it. When I came to IBM, I had a passion for looking under the hood of the engine of the computer to figure out how things work.

What kinds of problems are you solving now?

A lot of our clients are in financial services, so they run big transactional workloads during the day and switch to batch at night, with strict requirements that their batch workload completes before start-of-day processing or by the time trading begins. The challenge is to scale the workloads so that the systems can handle spikes during heavy workload periods. This is also crucial for the big retailers as they have peak demands, such as over Thanksgiving weekend. My team uses industry-leading technologies to deliver the infrastructure needed to support the scale, performance and high availability required by these demanding business-critical workloads.

I had a passion for looking under the hood of the engine of the computer and figuring out how things work.

How are you helping clients going forward?

I’m heading AI for the Z platform, so I help clients infuse AI into their core businesses. This involves machine learning and deep learning for fraud detection, proactive compliance and risk services. Data-driven decisions increasingly make the difference between keeping up with competitors or falling farther behind.

What do you do with your time when you’re not at work?

I love hiking and I’m lucky enough to live in the Hudson Valley. I love discovering new trails, getting to high points and having a view. I also hike when I go back to Greece. My parents come from an island on the west coast, Kefalonia, so I have family there. It’s amazing to be hiking in Greece and you suddenly see ancient columns, or an old church or monastery.

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