Professional Development

Power Moves: A new UPMC CEO and other big leadership changes from this summer

From the city's top employer to academic research to AI companies, here are some of the biggest recent executive changeups in Pittsburgh tech.

UPMC's Leslie Davis.

(Photo via LinkedIn)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Email us: pittsburgh@technical.ly.


One helpful way to track the trajectory of a local innovation economy: Follow the career moves of its most influential leaders. In this inaugural edition of Technical.ly’s Pittsburgh Power Moves column, here are some big local tech leadership changes we’ve spotted over the past few months.

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One of the biggest executive announcements of the summer came from Pittsburgh’s top employer, UPMC. With over 50,000 employees in the region, the healthcare provider is a leader of both academic and commercial progress in the city when it comes to life sciences. At the beginning of August, UPMC’s board of directors announced that Leslie Davis would succeed Jeffrey Romoff as president and CEO of the nonprofit.

The change marks the end of Romoff’s leadership of the nonprofit since 1992, and heralds a new era for UPMC, which will look to capitalize on its success over the last three decades into a more remote world, particularly around telemedicine.

“I am proud to have led UPMC during a time of exceptional growth,” Romoff said in a press release. “We are now in a well-earned period of stability and success, having overcome challenges and grown into a fully integrated health care system.”

Prior to taking on this new role at UPMC, Davis was the president of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, as well as of Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.

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University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research Computing announced earlier this week that interim co-directors Kim Wong and Adam Hobaugh will have their positions become permanent. The appointments are meant to foster a broader collaboration across the university’s departments in using data technology and computing. Wong has been at the university since 2008, including a research associate professor position he’s held since 2017, while Hobaugh has held leadership positions in Pitt’s information technology department over the last 10 years.

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“CRC’s new co-director structure embodies Pitt’s commitment to both scientific and technical leadership in research computation,” Senior Vice Chancellor for Research Rob Rutenbar said in a press release. “Together, we leverage Pitt IT’s expertise on systems, the cloud and state of the art networking, which allows us to deliver world-class computing and data services to our full spectrum of partners. Adam brings strong IT leadership, and Kim has great leadership strength in science.”

This renewed commitment to academic research in tech comes at a time of big commercial success in the industry, much of which stemmed from talent pipelines at local universities. The cemented leadership positions for both Wong and Hobaugh will help the university transition into the new school year with more programs and resources related to simulation, modeling, machine learning and other AI applications.

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In June, Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute announced that Matthew Gaston would lead a new artificial intelligence engineering research division. Supported by federal funding, the institute partners with the government, industry and academia to further the use of AI engineering in new technology, and will focus in part on supporting projects related to defense.

Gaston brings experience as the former director of the institute’s Emerging Technology Center, which involved work and research in advanced computing, applied AI and machine learning and human-machine interaction capabilities. He also previously worked as a research director for the data visualization business Viz, of General Dynamics C4 Systems, and as a technical director for the Advanced Analysis Laboratory at the NSA.

“I am very excited to lead the new SEI AI Division and to scale the SEI’s AI engineering capabilities in support of defense and national security,” Gaston said in a statement. “Using our initial work in the Emerging Technology Center and across the SEI as a foundation, we plan to build on the strong legacy of software engineering research at the SEI, initiate exciting new projects, work closely with world-class AI researchers across CMU, and build a community of collaborators throughout government, industry, and academia.”

Matthew Gaston. (Photo via sei.cmu.edu)

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Idelic, a local software company focused on transportation driver management systems, announced in June that Brennen Carson would join the company as the SVP of sales. Previously, Carson worked as the VP of sales in the Americas for Verizon Connect, a transportation software management company.

The news of Carson’s executive role followed a $20 million Series B funding round by Idelic in March of this year. Safety Suite, the company’s signature technology, helps manage fleet of driver data to reduce the incidence of accidents, insurance costs and driver turnover.

“For the last six years I’ve been speaking with fleets about how they can use technology to understand driver behavior and foster performance improvement,” Carson said in a press release. “Safety Suite is the only solution that advances fleets to the next step of driver management. It’s not just collecting your driver data — it’s understanding it and then allowing fleets to act on it all in one platform.”

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And at the end of May, Advanced Construction Robotics announced that Danielle Proctor would take over as CEO. The company was founded in 2016 by Stephen Muck, the previous CEO of Brayman Construction Corporation, and Jeremy Searock, the former technical program manager at CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center, both of whom will retain executive roles. Advanced Construction Robotics specializes in applying AI and robotics technologies to the construction industry.

Proctor brings a background in automation to the new role, from her experience as a senior manager at Management Science Associates and on the product management team at FreeMarkets, which was later acquired by Ariba.

“I’ve watched Danielle over the last 18 years develop and grow from a young entrepreneur into a mature leader capable of succeeding in a male dominated environment,” Muck said in a press release. “I am excited to see this duo innovate and commercialize robots for an industry that is ripe for disruption.”


Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments. -30-
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