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Why these top Tampa Bay executives fell in love with technology

Margie Manning



Experiences early in life were key for the three finalists for Tampa Bay Tech’s “Technology Executive of the Year” award.

Arun Ramaswamy, chief engineer for Nielsen, is the fourth generation engineer in his family and grew up in an environment that valued solving problems.

Dan Lasher, corporate vice president of information technology for Tech Data Corp., also comes from a family of engineers and fondly remembers his father with a slide rule and engineering schematics spread over the dining room table.

Nimish Shrivastava, chief technology officer at Venuetize, turned his early passion for math and logic to computing when he got to help his cousins at a data processing center during high school.

The three executives now play leading roles as their companies launch technologies to measure how many people are watching Netflix, buy products at Amalie Arena using a mobile commerce app, and thwart cybersecurity threats, among other things.

St. Pete Catalyst asked each of the finalists about their background and the project of projects they’ve been involved in that led to their nomination. Their responses are edited for brevity and clarity.

Ramaswamy is a 17-year veteran of Nielsen, which has a major operation in Oldsmar and serves the media, advertising, retail and consumer goods industries through technology that measures audiences and retail performance.

Arun Ramaswamy is chief engineer for Nielsen.

“On the innovation front, we introduced a new watermarking technology to identify content for TV ratings, that won us an Emmy award for engineering innovation. We invented new ways to measure streaming and delighted our clients with industry’s first independent measurement of Netflix. We have disrupted ourselves with a new wireless device to measure the consumer’s home and make our operations more efficient. We have created and are testing the world’s first Wearable device designed to measure consumer’s TV and radio consumption. Our software (SDK) resides in browsers and apps and allows us to measure YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, etc. as people watch content on mobile, connected devices and smart TVs. On the data processing side, we are leveraging cloud, microservices and other modern architectural principles to process data more efficiently and detect issues proactively. We have assembled a world class team that is leveraging AI [artificial intelligence], chatbots and deep learning to help identify products on retail shelves using image recognition. Global engineering leads the company in patent and white paper generation as well – which helped Nielsen achieve its status on Forbes’ Most Innovative Companies list.”



Lasher has been at Tech Data, an IT distributor in Clearwater, for 26 years, and says this past year was one of tremendous innovation and excitement.

Dan Lasher is corporate vice president of information technology for Tech Data Corp.

“Our portfolio was rich in digitally transformative projects to increase revenue, market share and improve profitability. These initiatives including changes to our eBusiness portals, cloud marketplace capabilities, our SAP [software provider] platform, robotics, business intelligence dashboards and more.

“The Cyber Security organization deployed a set of advanced capabilities including artificial intelligence and machine learning to defend against a set of new emerging cyber threats, which has greatly elevated our capabilities to safeguard our organization.

“Our governance organization was recognized by independent auditors as having deployed ‘best in class’ SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley] and general computing controls this year to enable our ability to meet all regulatory changes around the globe.”


Nimish Shrivastava is chief technology officer at Venuetize.

Shrivastava founded eMbience, a company that was a vendor to Venuetize, which has a mobile platform that integrates with venue infrastructure to deliver mobile wallets, advertising and information, and improves the guest experience. He joined Venuetize after it acquired eMbience.

“I’ve been very involved in the Amalie Arena app, working closely with our development team and the customer to facilitate mobile commerce for season ticket members in the arena. Using our mobile platform, members can get all the benefits to which they are entitled throughout the arena, without having to show or use a plastic card. The goal, which we’ve achieved, and continue to build upon, was to use commerce in an interesting way for engaging the most valuable visitors and customers.

“As Tampa continues to build out the entertainment district around Amalie Arena, the app’s commerce capabilities will translate across the district, in the same way we’ve been able to drive mobile commerce in The District Detroit.

“In Detroit, we’ve provided an app that allows visitors to the District to buy tickets for events at a number of venues, find and pre-pay for parking, use maps and turn-by-turn directions to get around the district, and receive contextual commerce and non-commerce engagements.”

Tampa Bay Tech, Florida’s largest technology council, will announce the winner of the “technology executive of the year” and other award categories at a ceremony on Nov. 9. Find out more here.


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