Home / Leadership

Executive Team

Mudar Yaghi Picture

Mudar Yaghi

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 at Austin.

Mohammad Shihadah Picture

Mohammad Shihadah


Mr. 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.

Hermann Ney Picture

Julian Setian

Board of Directors - Government Solutions

Mr. Setian is the President and CEO of SOSi, among the largest private technology and services integrator in the aerospace, defense, and government services industry. The company was founded by his mother in 1989 to provide foreign language support to the U.S. federal law enforcement community. He joined her in 1995, became the CEO in 2001, and, over the past 20 years, has diversified the business into logistics, intelligence, network engineering, and software development. He has completed four major acquisitions and grown the company at an average annual rate of 25% to more than 1,500 personnel worldwide. Setian is also the founder and chairman of two other businesses in the technology and mining sectors. Exovera, a data analytics company he founded in 2012, uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to identify media narratives and measure public sentiment in support of both government and commercial enterprises. Another he founded in 2016, called Sodevco, provides socially responsible and environmentally friendly renewable energy and mining solutions in developing countries. Most notably, Sodevco established the first large-scale mineral processing capability in Afghanistan. It employs a large number of Afghan citizens and has become a cornerstone in U.S.-led efforts to promote the country’s economic independence and prosperity. Mr. Setian holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University.

Hermann Ney Picture

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.

Mike Ferzacca Picture

Mike Ferzacca

CEO, Ignite-Tek

Mr. Ferzacca is an industry veteran with over 35 years experience developing and delivering technology-driven business services and solutions, providing outstanding client service, and driving profitable revenue growth.  Prior to his role at AppTek, Mike served as Chief Executive Officer at Ignite Media Solutions, Chief Marketing Officer at Inphonic Inc, Chief Operation Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Simplexity, Inc, Executive Vice President of Talk America Holdings (formerly, Senior Vice President and co-Chief Operating Officer for Cable & Wireless USA, Vice President of National Telephone Services, and District Sales Manager for the systems division of Xerox Corporation. Mr. Ferzacca holds a B.S. degree in accounting from Villanova University.

Steve Cook Picture

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.

Mike Rhodes Picture

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.

Katie Nguyen Picture

Katie Nguyen

SVP Data Operations

Ms. Nguyen leads AppTek’s rapidly evolving Data and Operations team, 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).

Kyle Maddock Picture

Kyle Maddock

SVP, Business Development, Sales and Marketing

Kyle Maddock drives business development, enterprise sales and marketing activities for AppTek, leading the company's go-to-market strategies and sales channel efforts. Kyle is a 25+ year marketing veteran who has driven over $1 Billion in profitable revenue growth through both consumer and B2B marketing initiatives. Prior to his role at AppTek, Kyle served as Creative Director at Ignite Media Solutions, SVP National Sales for Simply Wireless, and Director of E-Commerce Marketing at Talk America. Kyle holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

Volker Steinbiss Picture

Dr. Volker Steinbiss

Managing Director, AppTek GmbH

Dr. Steinbiss is the Managing Director of AppTek GmbH. 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.

Mike Veronis Picture

Mike Veronis

Accessibility Lead and Chief Executive Officer of GoVoBo 

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.

Jintao Jiang Picture

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.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

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. Dr. 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.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Eugen Beck

Lead Science Architect, Automatic Speech Recognition

Mr. M. Sc. Eugen Beck is a Speech Recognition Scientist at AppTek with a specialization in optimizing the efficiency of speech recognition systems.  He has vast experience programming in C ++ and CUDA. He graduated with honors in computer science at the end of 2014 and has been dealing with topics related to automatic speech recognition since 2015, which is reflected in many publications at international conferences. Eugen also has deep experience in the administration of large computing clusters (250 nodes with 1000+ cores and 260 GPUs).

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Zoltán Tüske

Senior Research Scientist, Automatic Speech Recognition

Dr. Tüske brings over 15 years of experience in speech recognition technologies with a focus on neural networks, signal processing, feature extraction, acoustic modeling, multilingual modeling, and language modeling.  Prior to joining AppTek, Tüske was a Senior Researcher at IBM’s AI Speech Technologies research group.  Dr. Tüske has an h index of 20+ with over 1300 citations in Google Scholar, holds 4 patents, and was the recipient of the ISCA Award for the best student paper at Interspeech 2014.  He holds a Ph. D. in Computer Science from RWTH Aachen University’s Human Language Technology and Pattern Recognition Group, and an M. Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Christian Dugast

Lead Science Architect, Natural Language Understanding

Dr Christian Dugast is a seasoned scientist in Machine Learning, with strong accents on Automatic Speech Recognition, Information Extraction and Natural Language Understanding. Christian received his Ph.D.  in Computer Science from the University of Toulouse (France) and started his professional life as a research scientist in Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) at Philips Research. He prides himself in having been one of the first to propose a hybrid approach for ASR combining Neural Networks and Hidden Markov Models (IEEE paper 1994). In recent years, Christian was working for Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). He is currently working with Prof Hermann Ney for RWTH University as well as leading the Natural Language Understanding research group at AppTek.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Alex Pérez

Lead Science Architect, Neural Speech Synthesis

Dr. Pérez is currently the Lead Scientist for Speech Synthesis (TTS) at AppTek, where he focuses on cross-lingual voice cloning and emotional text-to-speech in the context of automatic dubbing. He joined AppTek as a Speech Synthesis Scientist after completing his Ph.D. in Speech-to-Speech Translation at Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), Spain. Prior to joining AppTek, he participated in several European projects on the development and application of Automatic Speech Recognition, Machine Translation and Text-To-Speech technologies as member of the UPV's Machine Learning and Language Processing research group for more than 10 years.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Parnia Bahar

Lead Scientist Architect, Speech Translation

Dr. Parnia Bahar joined AppTek as a machine learning scientist. Before joining AppTek, she was a Ph.D. student and research assistant at RWTH Aachen University under Prof. Hermann Ney's supervision. Her research areas lie in human language technology and neural networks with a focus on text-to-text and speech-to-text machine translation and speech recognition systems. She is the author, co-author, and reviewer of papers at high-ranking international conferences. Systems developed with her cooperation have always performed in shared tasks among the best systems. During her Ph.D. study, she has been a major contributor to many R&D projects, giving lectures at the university, technical and scientific talks in workshops, and students' supervision.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Albert Zeyer

Lead Architect, Machine Learning

Albert Zeyer is AppTek's lead machine learning architect for the development of the core software framework as well as research on neural networks. He finished his PhD in the Human Language Technology Group at RWTH Aachen University, Germany under the supervision of Prof. Hermann Ney. He received both his M.Sc. in Mathematics and M.Sc. in Computer Science from RWTH Aachen University in 2013. His research is focused on neural networks including general support of AppTek's ASR, Neural MT and NLU technologies. The beginning of his first studies and passion for neural networks and connectionism goes back to 1996. Topics of his recent work include recurrent networks, attention models, and end-to-end models in general, with applications in speech recognition, translation and language modeling. Albert started developing software in 1995, and has published a variety of Open Source projects and many peer reviewed publications since. The Tensorflow based software RETURNN, which he has developed as the main architect for his PhD research, plays a central role in Apptek HLT.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Sarah Beranek

Scientist, Automatic Speech Recognition

Dr. Sarah Beranek, a particle physicist by trade, has over 10 years of experience in data analysis, working in multiple international collaborations at CERN, analyzing petabytes of LHC data. She has received a diploma degree in physics from RWTH Aachen University in 2011 and a PhD in experimental particle physics from RWTH Aachen University in 2017. In her thesis, she developed and implemented a statistical approach to search for new particles by which she has acquainted extended experience with statistical methods, such as simulations and ML techniques. She was a fellowship holder of a Research Training Group of the German Research Foundation during her PhD. She joined the AppTek science team in 2019 as an ASR scientist. Now, instead of reconstructing elementary particles and studying the nature of the universe, she is enthusiastic about new technologies and new challenges in the reconstruction of human voice to text, bringing her scientific experience with her.

Evgeny Matusov Picture

Jan "Yenda" Trmal

Scientific Advisor and Consultant to GmbH, Speech Recognition

Jan “Yenda” Trmal is a Scientific Advisor and Consultant for AppTek GmbH.  He earned his PhD in Applied Sciences and Computer Engineering, in the speciality of Cybernetics, with a dissertation titled Spatio-temporal structure of feature vectors in neural network adaptation, from the University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic.  During his doctoral studies, Dr. Trmal participated in several research programs, mainly targeted at enabling technologies for disadvantaged groups.  He was a member of a speech-research team that has been in charge of developing and deploying a real-time TV program captioning system for Czech Television, the public service broadcaster in the Czech Republic.  After completing his PhD degree (cum laude), he was appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Language and Speech Processing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.  He was a key researcher in IARPA Babel program and DARPA BOLT program.  In 2015 he was promoted to Assistant Research Scientist and in 2017 was promoted again to Associate Research Scientist. In 2019, Dr. Trmal was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to lead a delegation of US scientists to the United Nations Conference on Language Technologies for All (LT4All), held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

Andy Ray

Board Observer

Andy is the leader of the Morgan Lewis’ interdisciplinary corporate practice in Washington, DC, where he represents public and private companies, financial sponsors, and management teams in a broad range of industries, including technology, financial services, life sciences, real estate, and the not-for-profit sector.  He led the team representing Oculus VR in its $2 billion sale to Facebook. Andy is a board member or observer at BluLogix, entré, ExecVision, HealthSlate, LeaseAccelerator, and Pixelligent Technologies. Andy received his Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University and a Masters of Arts and a Juris Doctor from Duke University.

AI and ML Technologies to Bridge the Language Gap
Find us on Social Media:
ABOUT is a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies for automatic speech recognition (ASR), neural machine translation (NMT), natural language processing/understanding (NLP/U), large language models (LLMs)  and text-to-speech (TTS) technologies. The AppTek platform delivers industry-leading solutions for organizations across a breadth of global markets such as media and entertainment, call centers, government, enterprise business, and more. Built by scientists and research engineers who are recognized among the best in the world, AppTek’s solutions cover a wide array of languages/ dialects, channels, domains and demographics.

Copyright 2021 AppTek    |    Privacy Policy      |       Terms of Service     |      Cookie Policy