Our Executives-in-Residence are here to help. From top CEOs, to marketing geniuses, there is someone here to help you on your journey to success.
These are people that have seen amazing successes in their career and know, just like we do, that investing in the generations of the future isn’t just important tomorrow, it’s vital for today too.
Mr. Olechny has more than 15 years experience as the Chief Legal Officer/ General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer directing the legal, corporate governance, IP and regulatory functions for emerging and middle market, high growth, global companies. He has extensive experience in delivering results for venture capital, private equity and public company investors. In addition to extensive legal and operational experience he has served on several corporate Boards of Directors, has successfully negotiated, and led numerous rounds of investor financing as well highly successful liquidity events for company stakeholders.
Mr. Olechny served as Chief Legal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for NDS Surgical Imaging where he led all regulatory, IP, M&A, HR and Financing and as Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Barriersafe Solutions International, Inc., a global medical device company. Prior to that, he served as Deputy General Counsel at The Timberland Company, and Assistant General Counsel at United Technologies Corporation. He began his career in private practice at a major U.S. law firm. Mr. Olechny holds a BA in Economics from Vassar College, and J.D. from Cornell Law School.
Product engineering and operations leader with wide-ranging experience in consumer services, enterprise security & mobility and cloud genomics. Led the product development & operations team at DNAnexus delivering high scale compute and storage cloud solutions for enterprise genomic analysis.
Scaled engineering and operations team at mobile security leader, MobileIron from 65 to 130 in 15 months. Was with RIM for two years, as the leader of the Location Services group and operating executive for Dash Navigation subsidiary, an innovative 4 year old startup with expertise in accurate traffic services, acquired by RIM.
In six years at TiVo, two starting a new division focused on Service Providers, two on major OEM programs, DirecTV and Sony, and two on the TiVo Service. Worked at Silicon Graphics, leading more than a dozen product releases, including WebFORCE, and the first WYSIWYG HTML & 3D Hyperbolic authoring tools. Led online search and documentation efforts at SGI & HP. Have worked with software, hardware, embedded systems and complex enterprise systems. Really enjoy solving business problems with innovative technology.
Specialties: Lead & build teams to engineer complex systems, drive organization change and foster a learning culture & positive communication. Strong focus on teamwork and software development processes.
Neal Bawa, BS, is the past Executive VP/Chief Operations Officer of Unitek Information Systems, the Parent Company of Unitek College and Unitek Education. Founded in 1992, Unitek has been recognized as a leader in the IT and Healthcare Education, and has been often ranked among the fastest growing companies in the Bay Area.
As Executive VP/COO, Neal helped to drive Unitek’s growth in the education industry, to its current position as a premier training organization in Northern California. Neal’s strong competencies in Internet marketing, technology, process creation, operational management and outsourcing helped Unitek weather the recession that followed the internet market meltdown. With guidance from Unitek’s visionary CEO, Neal subsequently drove the company’s move to move into health care training, while still growing Unitek’s IT training by expanding its coverage nationally, using a unique fly-in training model. In 2003, Neal convinced his CEO that nursing was the future path for Unitek. Over a decade’s hard work, Neal helped grow Unitek into northern California’s largest private nursing school. He also helped Unitek College to become an Accredited school, qualified for Federal Financial Aid, just before private lending came to a complete halt due to Financial Banking crisis. Neal’s talent for operational optimization and cost control led to Unitek enjoying one of the highest net margins in the industry.
After 18 years as Executive VP/COO, Neal retired from Unitek following a very successful high 8-figure exit (to a leading private equity firm), at industry leading valuation and multiples.
In 2015, Neal joined Financial Attunement, a technology savvy real estate company as President/COO and has led the acquisition of $16MM of real estate in 8 months. He continues to invest in various real estate ventures in 6 U.S. states. He is currently expanding into the technology Angel and pre-seed market, to leverage his technology, executive and operational experience.
TECHNICAL BACKGROUND: Neal has a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Mumbai. He has strongly technical expertise in systems and network architecture, design and administration. Neal is extremely tech savvy, and is an evangelist of use of technology as a driver of revenue and profit. Neal led Unitek’s technology and Internet marketing teams for all 18 of his years at Unitek, in both a hands-on and a strategic vision capacity.
Paul Afshar, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Unitek Information Systems, the Parent Company of Unitek College and Unitek Education. Founded in 1992, Unitek has been recognized as a leader in the IT and Healthcare Education, and has been ranked among the fastest growing companies in the Bay Area.
Paul has been the key driver behind Unitek’s growth from its inception as a small Computer Consulting/IT Education company to its current position as a premier training organization in Northern California. Under Paul’s leadership and perseverance, Unitek weathered the recession that followed the internet market meltdown. He subsequently steered the company to move into health care training, while still growing Unitek’s IT training by expanding its coverage nationally, and later succeeded in transforming Unitek College into an Accredited school, qualified for Federal Financial Aid, just before private lending came to a complete halt due to Financial Banking crisis.
After 22 years at the helm, Paul retired from Unitek following a successful acquisition by a leading Private Equity Firm. Paul continues to be one of the largest shareholders in Unitek, and is still a key member of the Unitek board.
Paul continues to invest in various real estate ventures, both by himself and as a leading member of an investor group. He is currently looking into expanding into the technology Angel and pre-seed market, to leverage his decades of technology, executive and operational experience.
Paul is a veteran of the UNIX market with 20 years of experience. Before starting Unitek, from 1990-1991, as a founding member and VP of Engineering for Solarix Systems, he led the development of several Unix/SunOS based workstations. Between 1986 to 1989, as a Project Manager at Interactive Systems Corp he was responsible for the management of several major UNIX ports to various Intel Platforms. From 1984 to 1986, Paul was a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Hewlett Packard Laboratory, where he worked on the design and implementation of HP’s state of the art Distributed UNIX Operating System. Before joining Hewlett Packard, as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science Department at the University of Minnesota, he taught both undergraduate and graduate-level courses in Operating Systems, Computer Networking and Computer Architecture. During his tenure he was widely published in academic and professional journals. Paul holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of Minnesota, a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Tehran.
Head of Corporate & Business Development at Cable Television Laboratories (a Cable Industry technology consortium), where he created and managed partnerships with startups, investment/VC firms and universities to identify innovative technologies and funnel them into CableLabs’ R&D efforts and cable operations worldwide.
Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Brisbane Digital Enterprises, where he led cross functional development teams, new business/product strategies and managed the firm’s internal operations and P&L.
Business Development Executive at Microsoft, where he led business development and evangelism efforts in developing technology and media partnerships, prototypes, cross industry standards consortia and provided subject matter expertise involving investment and M&A efforts.
Director of Operations at Americast (a Disney/Telco JV), where he managed relationships with the joint venture partners and internal development efforts involving TV set top boxes, video distribution technologies, interactive media formats and original content development. In this role, he also led and participated in purchase and license negotiations for strategic technologies.
Technology Licensing Executive at Apple, where he managed licensing efforts for a portfolio of system software technologies and trademarks. In this role, he also negotiated and managed complex licensing and cross platform software development issues on behalf of both Apple and Component Integration Labs (a joint technology development consortium involving leading software companies including Apple, IBM and Novell).
David received a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law, an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a BS in Marketing and Computer Science from Ithaca College.
Sean is a software engineering veteran who is passionate about building impactful technology, with experience spanning both enterprise and consumer spaces. Most recently he was Co-founder and CTO of Credit Sesame where he developed financial advice software helping millions of consumers with their credit and debt. This experience growing a company from zero to a latest Goldman Sachs valuation of 400MM, with the attendant pivots, challenges, and learnings is knowledge Sean loves to share with the startup community.
Prior to Credit Sesame, Sean was CTO at Financial Crossing Inc., a B2B SaaS fintech company, and Managing Director as well as Technical Director at Charles Schwab, the ground-breaking online brokerage firm. At Schwab he architected the cost basis accounting system of record tracking over 1T in assets. Sean also has a background in consulting and technical training for Fortune 500 companies, and studied EECS at MIT. He is interested in data science and analytics, knowledge engineering, financial technology, and technology trends impacting the world in the coming years.
Stephen most recently lead the Broadcom’s IoT business unit where he served as SVP & GM. He was responsible for the 450-member hardware engineering, software development, platform, sales and marketing team. These teams design, develop and marketing industry leading communication products for consumer, commercial and automotive IoT customers. DiFranco was also responsible for the company’s community of developers, VARs & IoT partners and alliances. In February 2016 DiFranco lead the process to identify a buyer for the group. The acquisition to Cypress Semiconductor was closed on July 5, 2106.
DiFranco joined Broadcom from HP where he was responsible for sales and marketing of the America’s Enterprise Partner Organizations. During his tenure he managed HP’s PartnerOne™ and ServiceOne™ programs; sales teams and channel planning for HP’s Enterprise Group in the Americas. Joining HP in 2010 he lead the Americas PC Group Partner Network before leading the Americas PC organization. Stephen spent 5 years at HP.
For two years Stephen worked with Lenovo as it transitioned the IBM Think™ line of PCs. Starting by leading its retail teams before being asked to also lead its commercial channels sales teams, Stephen worked with all of the industry OEMs while leading AMD’s Consumer Group.
At AMD he was Corporate VP of Consumer Sales & Marketing responsible for the growth of AMD based PCs and notebook computers worldwide. During his tenure AMD enjoyed accelerated market growth in the US, Europe, CIS, South Asia and China. DiFranco reintroduced a marketing measurement systems and new consumer marketing segmentation to AMD.
Stephen served as Vice President, Corporate Marketing for Maxtor Corporation from 2002 to 2004 and was responsible for Maxtor’s global go-to-market strategy including corporate and field marketing activities, channel development, corporate branding and marketing communications.
Prior to joining Maxtor, Stephen served as the Executive VP of marketing for WebGain, Inc., a Warburg-Pincus backed Java software platform provider. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. DiFranco was director of marketing for Iomega Corporation holding the GM role for its professional products and business division. Before Iomega, Mr. DiFranco was with Sony Electronics, Inc. from 1989 to 1998. During his decade with the company, he held a variety of senior positions in the Industrial and Professional divisions. Mr. DiFranco also acted as one of Sony's spokespersons on the economic impact and professional application for DTV, and served as liaison to network TV executives on issues relating to implementing DTV for sports production.
He lives in San Mateo, California with his family.
Jean-Claude Junqua has 20+ years of successful experience as a global executive in the US, Europe and Japan. During his tenure at Panasonic he led the global speech activities involving teams in US, Japan and China. After 2 years spent in Japan, Dr. Junqua served as Vice President of Panasonic North America and developed the R&D activities of Panasonic in Silicon Valley creating new business opportunities in various areas such as consumer electronics, Automotive, Avionics, Mobile Communication, Smart Home, Speech Recognition/Artficial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IOT). Always enjoying new challenges, Dr. Junqua created an internal startup inside Panasonic which led to the creation of a new US business unit in the area of Health and Wellness.
Dr. Junqua is also Visiting Professor at Osaka Institute of Technology and Adjunct Professor at CMU Silicon Valley. Currently, CEO and Founder at CE2Innovate, one of his passions is to develop new approaches to innovation, to initiate and develop business transformation and to help startups and public companies reach their next level of growth. He serves as a mentor and coach for startups at a number of accelerators in the Bay area and as a Vice President of Open Innovation at the European American Enterprise Council. He is the author/co-author of more than 100+ articles and holder of 90+ patents along with 2 books in the area of speech recognition.
Jaap Suermondt is a strategic, pragmatic, highly visible exec with deep R&D, industry and technical expertise and extensive media, analyst, and client-facing experience.
After getting three degrees from Stanford, he joined HP as a researcher at HP Labs and then led global teams and large orgs of researchers and innovators in the US, Israel, Mexico, Canada, and Russia. He delivered a succession of developments, business contributions and product dev/transfers, led teams through major restructuring and turnarounds, and was a go-to expert for the CEO in healthcare and clinical informatics; he also led teams in security analytics, FinTech, ad tech, IoT, telco, and service provider segments.
As Vice President of Labs for Hewlett Packard Enterprise Software, he led the company’s applied innovation investments in analytics, machine learning, and data engineering targeted at the company's software businesses (security, big data platforms, application development management, IT operations management, and information management & governance).
As VP and head of the Software and Analytics Lab at HP Labs, he led software and analytics research for HP Labs' largest investment, memory-driven computing and The Machine, as well as its investments in IoT and data science. He led healthcare research at HP (focusing on patient safety, operational efficiency, and patient and staff experiences) and helped create the first ACGME-accredited fellowship program in clinical informatics at Stanford.
He was Program Chair of the 2008 Annual Symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association, and led the Services and Solutions Research Lab and the Business Optimization Lab (a team from which was awarded the INFORMS 2009 Franz Edelman Award for best achievement in management science and operations research).
He has a B.Sc. in mathematical and computational science from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Medical Information Sciences from Stanford University School of Medicine, is an inventor on over 40 granted patents, and is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics.