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Elpida Tzortzatos Joins IBM’s Best and Brightest

April 13, 2019

NEW YORK – The 2019 IBM Fellows were announced this week and Greek-born Elpida Tzortzatos, IBM Distinguished Engineer and IBM Z Architect, is among the eight technical leaders who join 297 colleagues from the past 56 years, some of the most creative engineers, scientists, and designers IBM, and the world, has known.

Tzortzatos’ sister Olga Fokas told The National Herald that the family is so proud of Elpida who is also the first Greek woman engineer to receive the honor. The family has roots in Kefalonia.

As noted on IBM’s website, “Through her three decades at IBM, Elpida has excelled in innovation, adding speed, security and scalability to a wide range of computer technologies.”

Tzortzatos said, “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.”

When asked what kinds of problems she is solving now, she replied, “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.”

Of her current work, Tzortzatos said, “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.”

Tzortzatos is also an avid hiker, noting that “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 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.”

According to IBM’s website, there are 89 total active Fellows, 305 total Fellows, and 257 patents have been issued. The IBM Fellows have won five Turing Awards and five Nobel Prizes as well as a Kyoto Prize and a U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Joining Tzortzatos this year as IBM Fellows are Ann Mead Corrao, Chris Ferris, Gustavo Stolovitzky, Laxmi Parida, Ram Viswanathan, Rama Akkiraju, and Rashik Parmar.

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