From Amazon to Start Ups, Machine Learning Drives Northeastern Alumnus

June 25, 2019

By Tracy Miller Geary

Always interested in “the idea of machines that can learn,” Bryan Healey (BSCS ’07) has applied machine learning throughout his career. Now Aiera CTO, Healey builds ML/AI systems that are capable of predicting market movement and forecasting stock performances, helping investment managers make important decisions.

Healey credits Khoury College with preparing him for life and his career, saying, “I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience, my co-op experiences in particular.”

While “friends at traditional schools did two months at internships,” Healey spent nine months at his first co-op at W.R. Grace and Company as an applications developer. “I didn’t just dip my toe in the water; I made meaningful contributions.”

His next co-op experience as an applications developer at Goldman Sachs built upon the expertise he’d gained at Grace. As he explains it, “When you play at that level, you get to really dig into a project.”

A final co-op at start-up Garment Valet led to a full-time job as technical director before he even graduated. He continued to focus on machine learning at his next jobs, first as an original member of Shape Up, a social network and wellness platform, and then as Senior Web Engineer at OnForce. While pursuing a Master’s degree at Norwich University (MBA ’14) Healey worked at Name Media as director of development, which led to one of his favorite jobs: Software Development Manager at Amazon.

As part of a team of engineers hired to work on the machine learning platform known as Alexa, Healey praised the freedom Amazon gave his group to be creative and innovative. The work environment had “the excitement of a start-up without the worry about the money.”

Working on Alexa led to a position as director of AI at Lola, a “conversational travel company” started by Kayak owner Paul English. Two years later, Healey became managing director of his own consulting business, Healey Engineering, where he focuses on AI machine learning.

A meeting with Wall Street research analyst Ken Sena led to Healey and Sena co-founding financial industry-focused Aiera, which stands for “artificially intelligence equity research analyst.” Aiera unites Healey’s passion for machine learning with his creative and problem-solving skills to “give super powers to research analysts.”

In his role as CTO at Aiera, Healey has been keen to hire fellow Huskies. Lead data scientist, Jacqueline Garrahan, who has an MS in applied mathematics from Northeastern, says that her role at Aiera is “engaging, technically challenging, and allows me to continue learning.” She is grateful for Healey’s mentorship at the outset of her career. Another data scientist at Aiera, Sai Kothapalli (MS in Industrial Engineering ’18), is also a Northeastern alumnus.

The connection between Healey’s professional life and Khoury College is strong and growing. He reports, “We have just started down the path of sponsoring some ML research within Khoury College that is specific to our use cases: model explain-ability and time-series predictions.”

Furthermore, remembering his own early career development, Healey aims to bring more Northeastern co-ops to Aiera. He states, “We are looking to hire one to three Northeastern co-ops for the coming fall to work with the data science team.” Healey stresses he is “a big fan of the Northeastern math and computer science programs.”

Focused on applying ML and AI to equity research for now, Healey describes the beauty of Aiera, “The investing world is saturated with information. We automate the information flow so analysts can do their job faster and more efficiently.” Still, the grand vision for the company extends far beyond the financial horizon, with an ultimate goal being, as CTO Healey puts it, “thoughtful AI analysis for every decision maker.”