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September 26, 2018

Gilbert Haddad: 2018 Early Career Award recipient

Written By: Staff


 Gilbert Haddad

Gilbert Haddad
Director, Point72 Asset Management
Staff Advisor, SparkCognition
BSME ’07, American University of Beirut
MSME ’09, UW-Madison
PhDME ’11, University of Maryland

Each year, the College of Engineering recognizes outstanding alumni during Engineers’ Day—a celebration of engineers, held on Homecoming weekend. Gilbert Haddad is among the engineers we will honor in 2018 at an Oct. 19 banquet.

In addition to his current role with the hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, Gilbert also advises the artificial intelligence company SparkCognition. His work experiences include positions at corporate giants, including Schlumberger and General Electric, where he has emerged as a technology leader in data science, analytics and predictive modeling, deriving insights from industrial and financial data.

We are honoring Gilbert for his work in applying data science and analytics in ways that have increased his companies’ productivity and profitability.

Recently, we chatted with him about everything from his memories as a student at UW-Madison to his career and hobbies. Here are his responses to some of our questions.

Why did you choose to attend UW-Madison?

While doing my undergrad at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon, Professor Frank Pfefferkorn from the mechanical engineering program at UW-Madison came to visit. I was immediately intrigued and drawn to the research he was doing. He then introduced me to UW-Madison Chemistry Professor Bassam Shakhashiri, who also attended the AUB before immigrating to the United States. Professor Shakhashiri had worked on an exchange program between AUB and UW-Madison which made it possible for a number of AUB students to attend the UW either as summer interns or for grad school. Though I didn’t fully know what the adventure would entail, a friend of mine (later UW-Madison PhD graduate, Professor Mounir El Asmar), and I decided to attend UW-Madison, and I joined Professor Pfefferkorn’s group. Little did I know that it would be a great experience and an even greater launching pad to my career today.

How did your experience in the College of Engineering shape your career?

I attended UW-Madison for my master’s degree, and then moved to the University of Maryland, College Park, for my PhD. It wasn’t until then that I realized the deep network UW-Madison has nationally, as my PhD advisor was an alumnus from UW-Madison as well. UW-Madison provided me the instruments that helped shape my career. To this day, I am still close to many of the friends I made years ago.

Did you have a favorite place to hang out?

I really enjoyed Mickies Dairy Bar. We used to go there on weekends or before the football games. The food was great, the staff were super friendly, and you could see the menus from decades ago. It’s just a legacy.

What was your favorite class?

It was a class in engineering within the statistics department, titled Statistical Experimental Design. It pushed us to think outside the box with the research and experiments and how to make more use out of the data we collect.

What advice would you give engineering students today?

Take additional computer science courses as today and tomorrow’s world calls for it. It is a very important skillset in most jobs across industries in today’s society.

If you had to do it all over again and pick another major outside of engineering, what would you choose?

I am happy with the major I have done. However, if I had to pick something else, I would focus on the intersection of computer science, neuroscience and economics. I’m fascinated by machine learning, how the brain works, and intersecting with how people make economic decisions.

Is there anything else that you would like us to know?

I enjoy mentoring companies and students. I am an advisor for an artificial intelligence company, and mentor a number of students with their careers.