22 June 2020

An Interview with Lynn Riley, Tapia 2020 Industry/Government Workshops and Panels Co-Chair

Photo of Lynn Riley
Lynn Riley

Lynn Riley is the Chief Information Office of Kilroy Blockchain and the Co-Chair of the Tapia 2020 Industry/Government Workshops and Panels Committee.  We spoke to Lynn about her career and how she became involved with the Tapia Conference.

Tell me about your background and where you grew up.

I grew up in White Plains, New York.  My Mom was a homemaker until after I went away to college then she worked as a teacher’s aide.  My Father was an office manager for a company in Manhattan.  Both my parents went to college; my mother to the Traphagen School of Fashion and my father to the City College of New York where he earned a business degree. They both stressed the importance of college to me and my sister.

How did you become involved in Computer science?

I went to MIT and decided to be an electrical engineer.  After my sophomore year I decided I wanted to go to medical school and changed my major to chemical engineering. I stayed for an extra semester to take all the pre-med requirements so I was a little burned out on school when I graduated.  I ended up moving to Austin, Texas after being offered a permanent position with Motorola as a device engineer, beginning in February of 1984. In my job, I was the liaison between the wafer fabrications area and the product engineers.  After a year I reconsidered medical school and decided it wasn’t the right path for me.  I stayed for a little over 13 years and left when the company had layoffs and were offering a nice severance package. A couple of years later I had my son and became a stay at home mom until he was 8 years old, when I took a left turn and got licensed as a massage therapist. Unfortunately, at the time there was a glut of therapists  in that industry so I then went to work for Apple in tech support, then customer relations and as a back-fill manager.  Eventually I was selected to lead a special project to help Apple expand their customer support in Brazil.  I trained new hires to be bi-lingual customer service relations agents in Brazil.  Some agents were already in the Austin area, and others were trained remotely.

I eventually left Apple and went to CORT Business Services as a business analyst.  Towards the end of my time there, I met Karen Kilroy who was working on developing ecommerce websites.  She learned about blockchain at a hackathon and saw the applications within ecommerce and other non-cryptocurrency industries.  Karen invited me to join her new company, Kilroy Blockchain, as Chief Information Officer.  I’ve been there since early 2017.

At Kilroy Blockchain we are creating apps that utilize blockchain for tracking and logging any transaction.  It also provides a high level of security. One of our apps was called Riley for Real Life Adventures.  You can use the app to take a short video or picture which is then analyzed by IBM Watson, and Watson then returns the results of what it sees and tells the user what is around them.  It’s a great asset for blind and visually impaired people.

What are the key projects you are working on today?

Given the competitive nature of app development I’m not able to share any of our current projects – but look out for us.  You can check out our website to see the apps we have already launched or have presented.

How did you become involved in the Tapia Conference?

In fall of 2018 because of my work in Kilroy Blockchain I was asked to sit in on a committee interested in Artificial Intelligence advancement in the US.   Hector Ruiz, who was the Tapia 2019 Ken Kennedy Plenary speaker at Tapia 2019, was there as was David Martinez who was the 2019 Tapia Program Chair.   David Martinez invited me to be the co-chair of the Industry/Government Panels and Workshops Co-Chair for Tapia 2019.  

What do you think some of the highlights of this year’s Tapia Program are?

In 2019 my favorite part of the conference were the plenary speakers, every one of them had a great inspirational story.  I really enjoyed learning about other people’s career paths.  I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend in person this year but I am looking forward to hearing everyone’s inspiring stories once again.  What I think is important in a virtual event is for every presenter to tell a good story.  If you are doing a technical presentation make sure you tell us an engaging story about why the data looks like it does.  Make sure you feel passionate about what you are saying.