Amazon Innovation Day: 30 April

“We’re at the beginning of a golden age of AI. Recent advancements have already led to invention that previously lived in the realm of science fiction—and we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.”
- Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO Amazon, 20191

Amazon is a company of builders. We get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers. For us, this means that it is always Day 1. A world where past results do not guarantee future success, so it's always important to strive, innovate, and be open to change. Amazon Innovation Day 2019 showcases three technology tailwinds that we believe are transforming our world; Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Robotics. We’ve brought together global and local leaders from Amazon, industry, and science to share with you how they use these technologies to solve customer problems today, and how they see this evolving in the future.

Who should attend Amazon Innovation Day?

This event is for practical leaders who want to understand the latest AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics trends and equip themselves with the skills to drive change and accelerate innovation. You could be a CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, CIO, developer, engineer or IT Manager. The job title is not important. What you have in common is an ambition to use technology to innovate and solve real customer problems.

What will I learn?

Our morning event will deliver first-hand insights on how AI, Machine Learning, and Robotics are changing our world. You’ll hear how machine learning helps Amazon deliver the customer promise - from how and why Alexa was built, to online recommendation engines and modeling last mile delivery. Leading research and industry experts will help us ‘think big’ by showcasing how AI and Robotics can transform traditional industries such as agriculture, how drones protect surfers, and how technology protects people and autonomous vehicles in high density urban areas. We’ll also talk about the ‘how’ of innovation – stepping through models and processes that today’s innovation leaders use to guide their work. After lunch we’ve created a series of short workshops to help you build your own innovation leadership skills.


07:30 - 09:00 Arrival & Registration
09:00 - 10:20 Welcome & Introduction
Glenn Gore, Worldwide Lead Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services
Rocco Braeuniger, Country Manager, Amazon Australia
  AI and Robotics - Reshaping our world
Dr Jordan Nguyen, AI Futurist
  Robotics and the Future of Work
Tye Brady, Chief Technologist, Amazon Robotics
  The Qantas Innovation Story
Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas Group
Rob James, Group Chief Technology Officer, Qantas
  Innovation Leaders Panel
Dr Jordan Nguyen, AI Futurist
Mike Vogelsong Senior Machine Learning Engineer, Amazon
10:20 - 11:00 Morning Tea
11:00 - 12:30 "YOU as THE Innovation Leader"  
Dominic Price, Futurist, Atlassian
  LIDAR: Powering Autonomous Vehicles   
Federico Collarte, Co-founder, Baraja  
Cibby Pulikkaseril, Co-Founder, Baraja
  Delivering the Amazon Customer Promise     
Neil Lindsay, Vice President, Global Marketing, Prime & Engagement,  Amazon
  Supply Chain Optimisation
Jenny Freshwater, Leader of Forecasting & Capacity Planning, Amazon
  Alexa: Voice First Innovation    
Al Lindsay VP, Alexa Engine
  Field Robotics and Machine Learning: Transforming Agriculture and Farming in Australia
Professor Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, University of Sydney
  Interview with NASA CTO  
Tom Soderstrom CTO, NASA
12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 15:00 Amazon Innovation Day Workshops. Please choose from the three workshops below.

Working Backwards from the Customer Workshop
At Amazon, innovation starts by working backwards from the customer. In this workshop, Amazon leaders will share examples of the processes and tools used to create and retain a focus on customer needs. All attendees will take an idea through the end to end “Amazon Working Backwards Process” and experience the approach in action.
  Alexa Skills Bluesky Workshop: Giving Your Brand a Voice
Voice is fast becoming the new paradigm. What is it about a great voice experience that sets it apart from the rest? In this session, voice experts from Amazon Alexa will help you understand the elements of a strong voice offering, ensuring that your efforts pay off in user engagement and retention. They will demonstrate best practice examples to teach you how to identify your best value proposition, how to think about voice UX and how to create compelling dialogue.
  Beyond Diversity to Inclusion Through Innovation
There is increasing awareness amongst organisations that diversity and inclusion are important considerations for business in driving innovation. “A diverse and inclusive workforce is critical for success, to drive innovation, foster creativity and guide business strategies” [Forbes Report: “Fostering Innovation through a Diverse Workforce”]. For a company like Amazon, innovation is crucial to our success and having a diverse workforce gives us a better understanding of customers’ needs and is key to unlocking ideas. This session will feature speakers from Qantas, WORK180, and Women@Amazon to explore how both large corporates and start-ups are embracing a diverse workforce to foster a culture of innovation and drive business outcomes.


Glenn Gore

Glenn Gore, Chief Architect, Amazon Web Services

As the Chief Architect for Amazon Web Services, Glenn is responsible for creating architectural best practices and working with customers on how they use the cloud and innovation to transform their own businesses or disrupt new markets. Glenn has worked in engineering, R&D, and technology leadership roles with customers such as Facebook, Twitter, NASA and worked on projects such as the Hadron super collider, interplanetary networking and large scale distributed systems. Prior to joining AWS, Glenn was the CTO of WebCentral where he worked on highly scalable web platforms and big-data systems for customers. He also held roles at Ozemail and UUNET, the world’s largest network provider.

Dr Jordan Nyguen

Dr Jordan Nguyen, AI Futurist

Dr Jordan Nguyen, is one of Australia’s most innovative engineers, who is committed to improving the lives of as many people as possible, and to help become a driving force behind both human and technological evolution as we move into the future. An internationally renowned engineer for humanity, Jordan designs life-changing technologies to transform the lives of people with disabilities and the elderly through his role as founder of Psykinetic, a social business committed to bringing positive, sustainable and life-altering change, and shares his adventures through documentaries across the world. Inspired by human endeavour, Jordan has big ambitions to see our world step consciously and creatively into a better future.

Rob James

Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas Group

Alan Joyce AC has been Qantas Group CEO since 2008. He has overseen one of the biggest transformations in the carrier’s 98-year history, helping it to deliver record profit together with high levels of customer satisfaction and employee engagement. The transformation included the turnaround and renewed growth of Qantas International, the expansion of Qantas and its low-cost carrier Jetstar throughout Asia, the renewal of the group’s fleet, lounges, technology and training, and the diversification of the Qantas Loyalty business with new ventures. He previously served as founding CEO of Jetstar, establishing its operations in Australia and Asia, after spending more than 15 years in key positions at Qantas, Ansett and Aer Lingus. He was named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2017 for his services to “the aviation transport industry, to the development of the national and international tourism sectors, to gender equality, inclusion and diversity, and to the community, particularly as a supporter of indigenous education”.

Rob James

Rob James, Group Chief Technology Officer, Qantas

Rob James is the Group Chief Technology Officer for Qantas, one of Australia's largest brands and one of the biggest airlines in the world. Rob is responsible for the technology strategy and architecture for the Qantas group of companies which includes international, domestic, engineering, freight and catering. Prior to this, Rob James was the CIO for William Hill Australia for 4 years, which is one of the largest gaming and sports wagering organisations in the world. Rob built the technology team from 40 to over 250 staff across 5 geographic locations and also included product development with a revenue growth accountability of over $80mil per year. Previously, Rob was the CTO of Star Entertainment, which owns and operates 4 casino properties in Australia. He has also worked with a series of Start-Ups including, and where he drove the engineering and product development teams. This included a successful IP sale to Cisco and acquisition to Global One Publishing. Rob has over 20 years of experience in technology innovation and currently sits on advisory boards for several technology start-ups.

Tom Soderstrom

Tom Soderstrom, IT Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Tom Soderstrom is the IT Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He leads a collaborative, practical, and hands-on approach with JPL and industry to investigate and rapidly infuse emerging IT technology trends that are relevant to JPL, NASA, and enterprises. Mr. Soderstrom has led remote teams championing large-scale IT best practices, tools development, and change efforts in small startups, large commercial companies, international venues, and the U.S. government arena. Mr. Soderstrom is currently working on defining and actively surfing the next technology waves that will significantly impact our future. He is consulting with researchers, startups, industry, and government leaders on how to quickly benefit from key disrupters, including new organizational structures and technology. These span building innovation labs to benefit from artificial intelligence, intelligent digital assistants, Internet of Things, natural user interfaces, advanced analytics, smart data, crowd sourcing, mixed reality, working from anywhere, Cloud 4.0, agile, and DevOps. In other words: how we will work in the future.

Dominic Price

Dominic Price, Futurist, Atlassian

Born to Joy in the harsh Manchester Winter of 77, Dominic has a career that has reached far and wide through Europe, US and Asia PAC. Dom now has responsibilities spanning 5 global R&D centres, and is Atlassian's "Team Doctor" helping the business scale by being ruthlessly efficient and effective, with one eye on the future. Dom helped pioneer the Atlassian Team Playbook and has personally run hundreds of sessions with our teams globally. Dom was previously the GM Program Management for a global gaming company and a Director of Deloitte providing assurance and consulting services. Dom is proud to work at Atlassian, the home of the most intelligent t-shirt wearers in business, as the Head of R&D and Work Futurist.

 Neil Lindsay

Neil Lindsay, Vice President, Global Marketing, Prime & Engagement, Amazon

As Vice President of Global Marketing, Prime & Engagement, Neil Lindsay is responsible for cross-category and cross-channel programs to grow active customers, accelerate engagement and build brand for Amazon’s consumer business, worldwide. Prior to joining in 2010, Neil was the Chief Marketing Officer at Sprint’s prepaid brands, including Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, where he led brand, marketing, portfolio and product-line strategies for the wireless telecom division. Before joining Sprint, Neil worked at a number of startups in the US and Australia and at Hewlett-Packard in Singapore and the United States. Neil grew up in rural Victoria, Australia.

Tye Brady

Tye Brady, Chief Technologist, Amazon Robotics

Tye Brady is a leading strategic thinker and engineering professional with more than 25 years of hands-on experience in team leadership, technical management, and system design for advanced instrumentation, autonomous vehicles, and robotic systems. Tye is chief technologist at Amazon Robotics, where he heads advanced technology and research efforts. Before joining Amazon, Tye spent 15 years with Draper Laboratory in a variety of technical and leadership roles, advancing robotics and spacecraft engineering. He holds a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics engineering from MIT. Tye is a founding partner of MassRobotics, a not-for-profit organization serving as a world-class platform for robotic innovation.

Rocco Braeuniger

Rocco Braeuniger, Country Manager, Amazon Australia

Rocco joined Amazon in early 2006 and held a variety of positions at the company before becoming the first Country Manager for Amazon Australia, ahead of the launch of in December 2017. Since then, he has built and now leads a team focusing on growing the offering for Australian customers and businesses that sell on the Amazon marketplace, including launching products and services such as Prime, Alexa-enabled Echo Devices, Global Store, and Fulfilment By Amazon. Prior to his role in Australia, Rocco led the German Consumables team at Amazon which included responsibilities for FMCG product lines as well as programs such as Prime Family, Subscribe & Save, EU Prime Pantry and EU Dash. He also supported the India team subsequent to their launch.

Salah Sukkarieh

Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, University of Sydney

Salah Sukkarieh is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney. He was the Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics from 2007-2018, where he led the strategic research and industry engagement program in the world's largest field robotics institute. He is an international expert in the research, development and commercialisation of field robotic systems and has led a number of robotics and intelligent systems R&D projects in logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining. Salah was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies in 2014, the 2017 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science, and the 2019 NSW Australian of the Year nominee. Salah is a Fellow of Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), and has over 500 academic and industry publications in robotics and intelligent systems.

Jenny Freshwater

Jenny Freshwater, Leader of Forecasting & Capacity Planning, Amazon

Jenny Freshwater leads Forecasting for Amazon’s consumer businesses worldwide. Jenny joined Amazon in 2010 and has held several positions during her 9 years with the company. Her career at Amazon started when she ran the software platform for the Amazon data warehouse, which stores petabytes of data used across the company for analytics and decision support. Jenny is currently responsible for forecasting long-range demand trends, fulfillment center capacity needs and demand for each product sold on Amazon sites worldwide. Prior to Amazon, Jenny built “big data” storage solutions for a variety of companies in the US. She has a degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Miami, FL. Jenny currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband, son and daughter.

Federico Collarte
Cibby Pulikkaseril

Federico Collarte – Co-Founder, Baraja

Cibby Pulikkaseril – Co-Founder, Baraja

Federico Collarte and Cibby Pulikkaseril met while working together in the optical telecommunications industry, where they built communications technology to connect the planet. They founded Baraja in 2015 with a redefined mission: to connect people in the physical world by enabling networks of self-driving vehicles. Both are well-recognised engineers having previously developed innovative technologies at advanced manufacturing companies such as Finisar. As the duo watched Autonomous Vehicles nearing an inflection point, they saw the opportunity to make a unique mark on the industry by dramatically improving LiDAR: the mission-critical sensor that provides vehicles with laser vision. Thus, Baraja’s Spectrum-Scan LiDAR product was born. With its best-in-class performance, cost-effectiveness and its elegant engineering approach that improves reliability, Federico and Cibby feel Baraja is uniquely positioned to become the category-leader in LiDAR. This will ultimately accelerate the adoption of self-driving cars, resulting in improved road safety while enabling mobility for disadvantaged groups for the very first time. After a well-documented and significant Series A funding round from Sequoia China and Blackbird Ventures, Baraja has now scaled to 95 employees (and growing!) headquartered at the historic home of Australian science and innovation at the CSIRO research site in Sydney. Baraja is providing a unique contribution to the local ‘innovation ecosystem’ with a strong commitment to become Australia’s next success story.