Our Team

The AppTek Team

Mudar Yaghi
Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Yaghi, the Company’s CEO, has over 35 years of experience in the field of software development, systems implementation, and project management.  In 1990, Mr. Yaghi co-founded AppTek with his partner, Mohammad Shihadah, and has since made AppTek a pioneer in Automatic Speech Recognition, Machine Translation, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing. Mr. Yaghi supervised the design and development of speech and translation systems for government and commercial customers, and is a primary contributor on six of the Company’s seven patents in ASR, MT and NLU. An astute businessman, Mr. Yaghi has also managed M&A transactions of parts of the Company to Lernout & Hauspie (NASDAQ: LHSP); SAIC (NYSE: SAIC); and eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY).  At various times in his career, he has maintained executive positions at SAIC and eBay.  Mr. Yaghi also serves as a leader in the DMV Angel Network out of Washington D.C., and currently sits on the board of Ignite Media Solutions, Pixelligent, TCOM, BluLogix, iDenTV, and ExecVision. Mr. Yaghi received a Master of Science degree in Information Systems from George Washington University, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas.

MOHAMMAD SHIHADAH
Chairman

Mohammad Shihadah, a co-founder of AppTek with Mr. Yaghi, is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Company.  Since 1990, Mr. Shihadah has put his three decades of experience in human language technologies, software design and implementation, and technical consulting to work in growing AppTek into a leader in its field, and his business acumen was vital in the Company’s M&A activities over the years.  Mr. Shihadah continues to lead AppTek in developing its speech technology capabilities, helping it expand into live closed captioning and multi-language subtitling, media monitoring solutions, and applying them into mainstream media for companies such as MBC’s Al Arabiya and NBC Universal. He is also the Founder and Chairman of iDenTV, an emerging leader in the application of artificial intelligence to computer vision technologies, and big video data and analytics. In addition to his executive roles, Mr. Shihadah is a board member or adviser of emerging growth technology companies, including Net2Voice, Ignite Media Solutions, BluLogix, and Pixelligent.  Mr. Shihadah has a Masters of Science degree in Computer and Information Science from the University of Oregon.

PROF. DR.-ING. HERMANN NEY
Director of Science

Professor Hermann Ney is the Chair of the Human Language Technology and Pattern Recognition department at RWTH University in Aachen, Germany, one of the largest and most renowned technical universities in Europe.  Dr. Ney has devoted his life to statistical methods for pattern recognition and human language technology and its application to speech recognition, machine translation, and image object recognition. He has specialized in dynamic programming and discriminative training for speech recognition, on phrase-based approaches to machine translation, and on language modeling.  His efforts are renowned throughout the language industry, and has resulted in more than 48,000 citations, 700 conference and journal papers, and a Google Scholar index of 92.  Dr. Ney is the 2019 winner of the IEEE James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award; and the recipient of the 2018 Google Focused Research Award, for his groundbreaking contributions to speech recognition.  In addition, Dr. Ney has also won the 2015 IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award; the 2013 Award of Honor by the International Association for Machine Translation; and the 2010 DIGITEO award for speech recognition and machine translation.  Dr. Ney has also worked on several vital R&D language projects, including the EU’s LISTEN project; QUAERO (France): GALE (U.S.); TC-Star (EU); and Verbmobil (Germany).  He has previously worked for AT&T Bell Labs, and for the Phillips Research Laboratories.  Dr. Ney continues to have a monumental impact on the ASR and MT industry, as he has placed more than 60 of his PhD students within the AI and Language departments of all the leading speech technology giants around the globe, including Apple, Amazon, eBay, Google, IBM and Nuance, in addition to AppTek.

STEVE COOK
Chief Technology Officer

Mr. Cook has more than 20 years experience with all aspects of software development and production (design, architecture, implementation, project management). He specializes in the development and deployment of human language technology products and systems. Mr. Cook has deployed large-scale machine translation and media monitoring systems for U.S. government and commercial organizations. Mr. Cook has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the American College of Computer and Information Sciences.

MICHAEL RHODES
Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Rhodes has more than 30 years of experience in leading the financial and accounting functions of both large and small organizations.  His background has included time as Vice President of Finance for the Hamilton Sundstrand division of United Technologies Corporation; a CFO of an international joint-venture in Moscow, Russia (HS-Nauka); an Investment Manager for an international venture capital fund (Defense Enterprise Fund); and more than 10 years in venture capital and private equity, most recently with MCG Capital Corporation. During his career, Mr. Rhodes has been involved with over $450 million of financing or M&A transactions.  Most recently, he was the CFO of Crystal Media Networks, and also for Geostellar Incorporated.  Mr. Rhodes has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Connecticut, and an MBA from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at Hartford.

MIKE VERONIS
Chief Revenue Officer
Mr. Veronis is an accomplished professional who has helped customers become successful by having a sincere understanding of their objectives and providing them his expertise in technology to translate their needs into solutions.  Early in his career, Mr. Veronis was part of a new international division for Sara Lee that dealt with operations around the globe, and it was there that he started to understand the need for advanced language technologies.  Mike also held Sales and Marketing leadership roles at GP Strategies, a global performance improvement company; Basis Technology, a leading text analytics software company;, and other organizations where he feels fortunate to have worked on some of the most advanced technology programs and with many industry innovators.  During his career, Mr. Veronis has developed an expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially automatic speech recognition and machine translation. He earned his Bachelors and MBA from Loyola University of Maryland. Outside of work, Mike is the founder of a non-profit organization he created to provide life-improving skills and support to critically at-risk children.

KATIE NGUYEN
Director, Business Operations and Data Integrity

Ms. Nguyen has led AppTek’s rapidly evolving Data and Operations team for more than four years, after operating as its Manager of Accounting and Operations for her first four years with the Company.  Her highly organized approach to operations, combined with her ability to infuse sound financial principles into her daily management style, has made her an invaluable member of the Executive Team at AppTek. Previously, Ms. Nguyen worked at SAIC as a Manager of Linguistic Resources before joining AppTek and taking charge of our day-to-day operations and accounting function. Ms. Nguyen has a Bachelors of Science degree in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

BRIAN KEANE
SVP, Corporate Development & Strategy

Mr. Keane has more than 30 years of experience structuring strategic transactions as both an investment banker and senior technology executive.  He was a managing director at Salomon Smith Barney, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley and founded two independent boutique investment banks.  As the EVP of Corporate Development and Strategy for Aether Systems, he negotiated and consummated more than a dozen acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships.  He has an AB degree in Mathematics and history from Cornell University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

JINTAO JIANG
Chief Scientist, HLT

Dr. Jintao Jiang has over 20 years of experience in the area of human language technologies, focusing on speech and audio processing, statistics, and Machine Learning.  Before joining AppTek in 2013, he was a Senior Speech Recognition Researcher at SAIC, where he was a Technical Fellow and recognized for his exceptional scientific contributions. Prior to joining the industry, Dr. Jiang was an Assistant Research Professor at George Washington University from 2010 to 2011. He was a Senior Research Engineer at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles from 2003 to 2010, and interned at both the IBM Watson Center and at Bell Labs. Dr. Jiang received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA and his ME and BE degrees in Electronic Engineering from Tsinghua University (Beijing). He has published dozens of papers for international conferences and journals and received a best-paper award in 2005. Throughout his career, Dr. Jiang has been a major contributor on many R&D language projects for NIH, NSF, DARPA, TSWG, MFLTS and others.

PAVEL GOLIK
Sr. Speech Scientist and R&D Manager
Mr. Golik joined AppTek to lead the science R&D team in Aachen. His research focuses on acoustic modeling with deep neural networks and acoustic adaptation. During his time in the PhD program at Hermann Ney’s lab Mr. Golik maintained the speech recognition toolkit RASR and was one of main contributors of the IARPA Babel project, where he built ASR systems for 28 languages. He co-authored over twenty scientific publications on various topics related to acoustic modeling, including multi-lingual features and direct modeling of raw waveform audio. Mr. Golik is fluent in English, German and Russian. He received his diploma degree in computer science from RWTH Aachen University in 2011.

EVGENY MATUSOV
Lead Science Architect, Machine Translation
Dr. Matusov is currently the Lead Science Architect of Machine Translation (MT) at AppTek.  He rejoined AppTek in 2018, after holding the position of Director of Machine Translation Research at eBay. Matusov developed machine translation and language generation models in multiple languages, powering eBay’s cross border trade and structured data initiatives. Prior to joining eBay, Matusov was the Director of Machine Translation at AppTek and led efforts to create AppTek’s own MT decoder and train MT systems for over 20 language pairs.  From 2010 to 2013, Matusov was part of the machine translation science team at SAIC, and was recognized as SAIC Technical Fellow in 2012 for his achievements.  Matusov’s research focus was on leveraging of phrase translation models in hybrid neural MT systems, topic adaptation, as well as translation into morphologically rich languages.  Matusov received his diploma degree in computer science from RWTH Aachen University in 2003 and a PhD in Computer Science from Aachen University in 2009.

DR. VOLKER STEINBISS
Managing Director, AppTek GmbH

Volker Steinbiss is the Managing Director of AppTek GmbH, our wholly-owned Germany subsidiary. His substantial experience in human language technology goes back to the late 1980’s when he helped pioneering large-vocabulary continuous-speech recognition at Philips Research. In the 90s, he was instrumental in Philips creating three worldwide first speech recognition products: name dialing on the handheld cell phone SPARK; the professional 20,000 word continuous-speech radiology dictation system SP6000; and the Philips mixed-initiative telephone-network based train inquiry system. Mr. Steinbiss next became interested in statistical machine translation in the 1990’s, and later with speech translation. As a staff member of RWTH Aachen University, he managed a project within the 200+MEUR French-German Quaero program (2008-2013). With his company Accipio Projects GmbH, he was the coordinator of the speech translation project EU-BRIDGE (2012-2015), at the time the largest EU-funded integrated project in human language technology. Mr. Steinbiss holds a degree in mathematics and a PhD from Göttingen University, and was a scholarship holder of the German National Merit Foundation and of the French Government.