Iskra Velitchkova

My biggest interest in life is people. What moves us to do what we do, what connects us, what is common and what is different. At the same time I feel strongly attracted to beauty. From art itself, design as the performance of it, to really small things as arranging the dinner table as if we were every night celebrating something.

That combination provided me lots of extraordinary life moments, experiences and learnings, but also frustrations. People are complex and beauty is not everywhere. Against this backdrop, I find my job fascinating. I consider myself a hybrid profile, combining technology, science and design to better understand the relationship between humans and machines.

After a proven record on data visualization and information design, first with my own company, and then in a big corporation such as BBVA, one of the world’s largest financial institutions and a leader in digital transformation, I oriented my career over the last years on the search of new ways of communicating what’s beyond the algorithms we develop today. I feel more comfortable in the abstract and figurative but I also enjoy grounding those ideas. I have worked with designers, data scientists and business domain experts on creating bridges and common languages, on the definition of new digital products and on building a common vision and strategy. I understand a digital product, not as a sum of different roles and disciplines, but as an orchestrated set of domains and its delicate equilibrium of processes, materials, people and strategy. As the art direction of a movie.

Selected media coverage, speaker engagements and awards:
Los sistemas de recomendación te van a conocer como si te hubieran parido, EL PAÍS RETINA, March 24, 2018
Del homo sapiens al homo deus, La Razón, March 24, 2018
Algoritmos, emociones y la magdalena de Proust: un debate sobre el futuro de la IA,, March 24, 2018
Proust y la AI: Cómo la literatura puede ser valiosa para la analítica de datos,, April 30, 2018
Por qué montar una start-up a base de datos, Forbes, August 17, 2014
BBVA Open Talks Madrid: ¿Condiciona la IA nuestras decisiones?, April 19, 2018
Open Data Madrid Awards, Jury and speaker, 2018
IEEE VIS Berlin, Selected poster for the Interpretability workshop organized by Google Brain and IBM, 2018
Information Is Beautiful awards- Shortlist 2016
BBVA Innova Challenge, Awarded in 2014 and 2015

Marcelo Soria-Rodríguez

I have a broad range of interests and activities. I have built software, managed teams, designed interfaces, written marketing copy, founded companies, advised others, devised strategies and imagined products that I led to their launch to market. Beyond software, data, design and digital I am interested in a diverse collection of topics from which I draw inspiration and insights (photographing, painting, architecture, neuroscience, biology and other fields).

I co-founded Databeers, a global movement born in 2014 aimed at increasing data literacy in society, present in more than 30 cities and 10 countries and growing. Databeers brings together people from different backgrounds to share their views and experiences around data in a practical, informal manner through short, fast-paced talks and beer as a social lubricant.

I co-founded the data project that led to the creation of BBVA Data & Analytics in 2014, where I was VP in its early years, and later to the creation of the BBVA AI Factory in 2019. These groups are at the core of the digital transformation of one of the world’s most successful stories of digital banking. I was in charge of data strategy at BBVA Data & Analytics and built the foundation of the Data Strategy Discipline at BBVA. During my 11 years at BBVA I worked always at the fringes of disciplines, constantly exploring what’s beyond the established boundaries, being always part of or leading the teams that sought to redefine the role of banking in society.

I co-founded Trecone Solutions in 2017, a crowdsourced mobile audiences company that produces market intelligence reports and tools for companies interested in the mobile ecosystem. I am a partner at Instituto Tramontana, a design and consultancy agency turned into an institution to educate designers and managers around digital products and strategies. With Tramontana, I prepared a digital strategy for the Spanish National Library in 2017. I also co-founded companies in the travel sector and in the recruiting sector, always with a keen focus on leveraging what data and digital mean from a transformational standpoint, but always keeping an eye on what real people need in real scenarios. I am an investor in startups and have acted as a mentor to both startups and aspiring entrepreneurs.

I studied Telecommunications Engineering and Signal Processing in Spain (Alfonso X El Sabio), USA (Tufts University) and Finland (Tampere University of Technology).

I am sometimes invited to speak at international conferences.

Selected references & articles:
Interview with the organizers of Databeers. (Spanish Government portal about open data and public data reuse), 2019
"Man Shall Not Live By Data Science Alone", talk at BigData Spain, Madrid, 2018
On artificial neurological illnesses. Medium / Towards Data Science, 2018
Cerveza y datos: los españoles que arrasan en el mundo con sus 'shows' sobre 'big data'. El Confidencial, 2018
Una breve reflexión sobre los caminos de la transformación digital (A brief reflection on the ways of digital transformation). A post on the blog of Piperlab to support fundraising for scientific projects in a dedicated p2p funding platform, 2017.
O’Reilly Strata Conference (2 talks, one is available online), Barcelona, 2014
"Capturing Value From Big Financial Data", talk at BigData Spain, Madrid, 2013