Board of Directors and Management Team

Ms. Gayle Sheppard,
Chairman and CEO

As chairman and chief executive officer, Sheppard is responsible for Saffron’s corporate vision and fundamental company direction.

Prior to joining Saffron as CEO, Sheppard worked with Saffron’s founders and customers as it’s Executive Chair of the Board of Directors. Prior to Saffron, Sheppard was Vice President and Managing Director at PeopleSoft, Inc. where she successfully turned around an under performing business unit and developed new market strategies, CEO and President with MarketMile, LLC (now part of Rearden Commerce) where she led the development and launch of an application service business focused on serving American Express’ Corporate Purchasing Card Customers, and Vice President, Worldwide Sales, J.D.Edwards & Company, President and General Manager, J.D. Edwards Japan, K.K., and Vice President Sales and Marketing, J.D.Edwards Asia Pacific Ltd. where she was responsible for defining new market strategies and establishing and leading new business units to accelerate J.D. Edwards revenue growth in global markets.

Gayle serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Life and Sciences Museum, dedicated to life long learning in science and technology, and is a Charter Member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) – Carolinas; the world’s largest non-profit entrepreneurial organization.

Sheppard is a graduate of the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, where she received a B.S., Business Administration.


Dr. Manuel Aparicio,
Chief Memory Maker and Co-Founder

Dr. Manuel Aparicio is Saffron’s Chief Memory Maker and the visionary behind Saffron’s associative memory technology. With more than 25 years experience in the industrial development and commercialization of software solutions supporting real intelligence for intelligent agents, Aparicio has long been an evangelist for broad adoption of associative-memory technology.

Prior to Saffron, Aparicio was Chief Scientist of the IBM Knowledge Management & Intelligent Agent Center. At IBM, he and Jim Fleming, co-founder and president of Saffron, worked on the development and commercialization of associative memory systems. Aparicio also served on the Board of Directors for The Agent Society and the Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents, an international standards body.

Aparicio holds several patents for memory-based technology, and has published numerous papers and journal articles. For example, he wrote “Concepts of Personalization” for The Practical Handbook of Internet Computing, and “Learning by Collaborative and Individual-based Recommendation Agents” in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the latter co-authored with Dr. Dan Ariely, a leading marketing economist. He co-edited Neural Networks for Knowledge Representation and Inference and is now writing Making Memories: Applying Neuron-inspired Associative Memories to National, Business, and Consumer Intelligence.

Aparicio formed Saffron in 1999, serves on Saffron’s Board of Directors and currently serves as an executive advisor to TigerSwan, Inc. A frequent speaker and guest lecturer, Aparicio is an alumnus of the University of South Florida, where he earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, with a focus on biologically based neuro-computing.

He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Mr. Jim Fleming,
Chief Software Engineer, President and Co-Founder

Jim Fleming leads Saffron’s research and development in Associative Memory Technology and is Chief Software Engineer for the SaffronMemoryBase®, the company’s core intellectual property and the company’s flagship product.

In 1999, Fleming and Aparicio left IBM to establish Saffron Technology and develop truly intelligent associative memory-based computing solutions. Fleming’s engineering leadership has resulted in Saffron becoming the world’s first commercially scalable associative memory analytic platform. In the Saffron engine, memories are implemented as coincident matrices for greater storage efficiency and processing speed, an approach wholly different from traditional tables or other semantic stores of explicit graphs. It is this patented method of data representation that enables Saffron’s associative memory-based solutions to achieve enterprise scale, the primary shortcoming of competing offerings.

Prior to founding Saffron Technology, Fleming worked for IBM on agent-based learning technologies and security products. He also helped pioneer LAN-based e-mail systems while working as a technical lead at Lotus/cc:Mail. His interest in agent-based software formed while at cc:Mail working on rule-based systems in the early 1990s. He also worked with Microsoft’s PowerPoint division on writing slide-imaging software.

Fleming is an alumnus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he earned his bachelor of science in computer science.

He makes his home in North Carolina.


Mr. Chad Smith,Chad Smith
Chief Intelligence Officer

As Chief Intelligence Officer, Mr. Smith is responsible for leading the development and delivery of Saffron’s cognitive computing systems, the Natural Intelligence Platform.

Chad has extensive experience in developing industry leading software applications and client delivery. Prior to Saffron, Chad served as Chief Technology Officer with 3Birds Marketing where he led a software development and delivery team to create a cloud-delivered comprehensive, fully integrated content management and digital – social marketing software service. Chad was responsible for helping grow the company from 1 to over 700 clients in 2 short years.

Additional experiences includes leadership roles working with global clients in software development, engineering and application support including his tenure as Global Solutions Manager for Acxiom Corporation where he led a full service IT consulting, including business and technology needs assessment, requirements definition, business processes, architecture integration, systems gap analysis, strategic development and project management lifecycle, and staff management. Additional on the ground international experience includes IT Manager – Japan for Acxiom Corporation where he developed corporate products and solutions for the Japanese market.

Chad was named the “CIO of the Year” in 2012 by the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA).

Chad is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he received a B.S., Computer Business Information Systems.


Dr. Paul Hofmann,
Chief Technology Officer

Paul is responsible for Saffron’s technology direction and product management.

With more than 20 years’ experience in enterprise software and services, Paul’s background combines academic thought leadership with international executive leadership at global companies.

Before joining Saffron in 2012 Paul was Vice President Research at SAP Labs at Palo Alto. Paul has also worked for the SAP Corporate Venturing Group. Paul joined SAP in 2001 as Director for Business Development EMEA SAP AG where he has created the Value Based Selling program.

Paul was visiting scientist at Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at MIT, Cambridge, MA 2009.

Prior to joining SAP, Paul was Senior Plant Manager at BASF’s Global Catalysts Business Unit in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

Paul has been entrenched in research as Senior Scientist and Assistant Professor at outstanding European and American Universities (Northwestern University, U.S., Technical University Munich and Darmstadt, Germany). He is an expert in computational chemistry and computer graphics (Ph.D., research and teaching in Nonlinear Quantum Dynamics and Chaos Theory), authoring numerous publications and books, including a book on SCM and environmental information systems as well as performance management and productivity of supply chains.

His passion has always been AI, machine learning and semantics. In 1986 Paul programmed an associative memory system at Technical University Munich to predict chemical reactions in mass spectrometer. His team at SAP Labs implemented semantic rules engine from CMU to show the right data to the right person when accessing enterprise systems, and transferred computational logic from Stanford AI Lab into the SAP Business by Design Configurator.


Dr. John Poindexter,
Director, Saffron Board of Directors

Dr. John M. Poindexter serves on the Board of Directors of Saffron Technology.

Now a private consultant, Dr. Poindexter most recently served as Director of the Information Awareness Office (IAO) at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The IAO developed and demonstrated information technologies and systems to counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness useful for preemption, national security warning and national security decision-making. In addition he initiated research on privacy protection. As Director, Dr. Poindexter established the new office, managed the technical and financial aspects of all assignments, and identified revolutionary new projects within the Office’s mission.

Prior to coming to DARPA, Dr. Poindexter served as Senior Vice President for SYNTEK Technologies, a small, high technology firm, where he worked with DARPA on Project Genoa. He also served on the Board of Directors for Digital Commerce Corp. In 1990, he co-founded TP Systems, Inc., serving as that firm’s chief designer and programmer until 1996. From 1993 to 1996, Dr. Poindexter was a consultant with Elkins Group, where he was Chairman of the Maritime Advisory Committee and a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to that, he served as Senior Scientist with Presearch, Inc.

Dr. Poindexter served as National Security Advisor and Deputy National Security Advisor for President Reagan from 1983 to 1986, and as Military Assistant in the White House prior to that. He provided recommendations to the President on national security, foreign policy and defense policy issues. He was also responsible for improving command and management systems to support the President in national security crisis management, culminating in the creation of a new high-technology crisis management center.

Dr. Poindexter served 29 years active duty in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral. While in the U.S. Navy, he specialized in training, new tactics and battle management procedures and pioneering uses of shipboard computers. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in physics from the California Institute of Technology (1961, 1964). He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy (1958).

He lives in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Walt Gall,Walt Gall
VP, Health Care

Dr. Gall received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University and carried out his postdoctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Moving from basic research to industry, Dr. Gall joined the Business Development division at BD Technologies in Research Triangle Park, NC, carrying out strategic planning with senior executives as it related to emerging internal and external platform technologies.

From BD, he joined the diagnostic division with world’s leading metabolomics firm Metabolon, where he led the R&D, business development, and commercialization activities for its first flagship diagnostic product franchise, QuantoseTM, and initiated and grew its cardiometabolic pipeline product portfolio.

Dr. Gall currently is an independent strategy consultant and investor with early-mid stage technology enterprises, with focus on corporate strategic planning for product development, commercialization, and business and corporate development activities.

His current focus is on building strategic alliances and partnerships in the big data analytics area, specifically interfacing the leading cognitive computing platform into multiple industry verticals, including leading innovative business solutions for the pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare arena.