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April 1, 2024

Big Data Career Notes: March 2024 Edition


In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the big data community. Whether it’s a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we’ve got the details. Check in each month for an updated list and you may even come across someone you know, or better yet, yourself!

Mustafa Suleyman

Mustafa Suleyman and Karén Simonyan

Microsoft has hired two former DeepMind executives to run Microsoft AI, its new AI arm. The new hires include Mustafa Suleyman, the former head of applied AI and co-founder DeepMind, who will be CEO of Microsoft AI, as well as Karén Simonyan, a former researcher at DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014. Suleyman and Simonyan both joined Microsoft from Inflection AI, a generative AI company they co-founded in 2022.

Karén Simonyan

“Several members of the Inflection team have chosen to join Mustafa and Karén at Microsoft,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a March 19 blog post. “They include some of the most accomplished AI engineers, researchers, and builders in the world. They have designed, led, launched, and co-authored many of the most important contributions in advancing AI over the last five years. I am excited for them to contribute their knowledge, talent, and expertise to our consumer AI research and product making.”

Rick Scurfield

Rick Scurfield

VAST Data, the New York City company that’s looking to centralize AI processing and data storage, has hired Rick Scurfield to be its Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) in advanced of an expected IPO later this year. Scurfield arrives at VAST Data from competitor NetApp, where he spent more than 20 years.

“VAST Data’s mission extends beyond ambition; it’s a pledge to innovate and remove the obstacles that limit progress within AI infrastructure by rethinking it entirely,” Scurfield said in a press release. “It’s thrilling to join VAST at such a pivotal moment in technology history.”

Amit Rai and Nathan Goulding

Amit Rai

Vultr, the private cloud that’s challenging the cloud giants for high-end AI and HPC workloads, has made two new hires. Amit Rai arrived at Vultr’s from Zoominfo to be its new general manager of AI and Enterprise Cloud, while Nathan Goulding hailed from competitor Equinix to be Vultr’s new senior vice president of engineering.

Nathan Goulding

“Both Amit and Nathan bring long-tenured experience and proven success building and scaling enterprise technology platforms and businesses,” stated J.J. Kardwell, CEO of Vultr’s parent company, Constant. “Their experience and leadership will help Vultr deliver on our mission to make high-performance cloud computing easy to use, affordable, and locally accessible for businesses and developers around the world.”

Christopher Hall

Christopher Hall

Precisely, a provider of data integration and integrity tools, has promoted Christopher Hall to be its new Chief Product Officer. Hall, who arrived at Precisely (then called Syncsort) with its 2019 acquisition of Pitney Bowes, will oversee product strategies and roadmaps for the entire Precisely product suite.

“With initiatives such as GenAI and advanced analytics at top of mind for organizations, it is absolutely critical to have confidence in the underlying data,” Hall said in a press release. “I’m proud of our extensive track record providing customers with accurate, consistent, and contextual data for driving successful and trustworthy outcomes.”

Yvonne Wassenaar

Yvonne Wassenaar

Alation announced in March that it has appointed Yvonne Wassenaar to sit on its board of directors. The move gives Alation an experienced board member who also sits on the boards of Arista Networks, Forrester Research, JFrog, and Rubrik.

“As the leading data intelligence company, Alation empowers enterprises to build trusted data sources and win in the AI era,” Wassenaar said in a press release. “Building trusted AI will only become more important over time, and I look forward to working with the board and executive team on Alation’s next phase of growth.”

Mike Haas and Leo Zheng

Leo Zheng

Astronomer, the commercial entity behind Apache Airflow, in March announced two additions to its leadership team, including Mike Haas, who is now its chief revenue officer, and Leo Zheng, the company’s new chief marketing officer.

Mike Haas

Zheng, who arrives at Astronomer from MongoDB, is Astronomer’s first CMO and brings 15 years of marketing experience to the position. Haas, who has nearly 15 years of sales leadership experience, arrives at Astronomer from Clumio.


“We’re thrilled to welcome Mike and Leo to Astronomer,” Astronomer CEO Andy Byron said in a press release. “Each executive brings unique, proven experience to Astronomer at a pivotal time when the increasing number of technologies in the data and application landscapes has made Airflow critical for orchestrating the data and complex workflows behind business decisions and user-facing applications.”

Julie Irish

Julie Irish

Couchbase has appointed Julie Irish to be the company’s first chief information officer (CIO). Irish arrives at the NoSQL database company from New Relic, where she was a vice president for business applications and IT.

“The strategic use of technology is critical to scaling across all functions to unlock growth. It’s an exciting time to join Couchbase as more customers transition to the Couchbase Capella offering and consumption models. Couchbase has built a strong technology foundation and I am honored to join the company contributing my insights, setting strategic priorities and collaborating with our world-class team,” added Irish.

Ali Tierney, Matthew Kelly, Zach Johnson, Abby Strong, and Lisa Nielsen

Matthew Kelly

Data observability vendor Cribl has made several executive

Ali Tierney

hires recently. Ali Tierney joined Cribl as its new chief revenue officer from Snowflake, where she was senior vice president of sales. Other new hires include Matthew Kelly, who joined Cribl as chief legal officer last summer; Zach Johnson, who was promoted to chief financial officer in November; Abby Strong, who was promoted to chief market officer in November; and Lisa Nielsen, who was hired as chief people officer in February.

Lisa Nielsen

“This week, we are celebrating our continued success by

Abby Strong

bringing the entire Cribl team together to kick off the next fiscal year, where our primary focus will continue to be on our customers and how to keep equipping them with best-in-class solutions that adapt to their ever-evolving data needs,” said Clint Sharp, co-founder and CEO of Cribl. “We look forward to launching new, innovative products that will empower even more customers to transform their telemetry data strategies in the year ahead.”

Zach Johnson

To read last month’s edition of Career Notes, click here.