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Alumni Portrait: Aditya Bhasin '96

Jul 20, 2023   |   by Betsy Vereckey

Computer Engineer & Bank Executive

As a graduate student at Thayer, Aditya Bhasin felt most at home in the lab. Whether he was collaborating with fellow students or assisting Professor George Cybenko with research projects, the lab was an incubator for ideas with real-world impact.

"The lab was very collaborative, very much a family-type environment, with lots of big, creative thinking but a lot of real action, too," he said. "I think that's a big part of what I took away from my time at Thayer—how to come up with innovative ideas that have a practical purpose. Practical application is something I've thought a lot about throughout my career, and I learned that at Thayer."

Today, Bhasin cultivates that same spirit of applied entrepreneurship in his role as chief technology and information officer for Bank of America (BofA). The firm has been earning numerous accolades with Bhasin as CTO, including Fortune's 2023 list of "America's Most Innovative Companies."

His efforts have led to 608 patents being granted to more than 6,700 BofA employees last year, recognizing their ideas in artificial intelligence, machine learning, information security, data analytics, and mobile banking. Having been with the firm for nearly 20 years in roles ranging from marketing to digital banking, Bhasin has deep experience leading teams and designing and managing technological solutions for consumers and businesses alike.

"Sometimes people think entrepreneurial has to equal small, but we are one of the largest generators of patents in financial services in the US," Bhasin said. "We have inventors around the globe who are coming up with new ideas to help our clients live better financial lives and help our company achieve its goals through the power of technology."

A computer course leads to a career in technology

As an undergrad at Hamilton College, Bhasin majored in chemistry, thinking that one day he might go to medical school. But then by chance, he enrolled in a computer class that worked with his schedule. He thought it would be a useful skill, but it ended up changing the course of his life.

"I took an introductory computer science class on a whim, and I just loved it," said Bhasin. "I fell in love with the problem-solving aspect of computing, and I really enjoyed programming."

Bhasin graduated with a double major in chemistry and computer science.

As a child, Bhasin had lived all over the world in far-flung places like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Delhi and Botswana because his father worked in the Indian Foreign Service. Bhasin thought he might like to attend a graduate program in a quiet town like Hanover where "there were no distractions," allowing him to delve into his studies.

He decided to enroll in Thayer's doctorate degree program in biotech. It seemed like a good fit, given that he had taken undergrad courses in chemistry and technology. But along the way, Bhasin was drawn to computer science and engineering. He took a TA position with Professor Cybenko for the intro course, "Technology of Cyberspace." The two also worked on research projects such as creating a search engine monitoring tool that allowed users to receive notifications on search terms, which felt like "a fun sci-fi venture," Bhasin recalled.

Cybenko was Bhasin's faculty advisor for his thesis, which explored pattern recognition of 3D objects.

At Thayer, Bhasin loved the flexibility he had to pursue whatever interested him. He thrived in the interdisciplinary environment where he could learn the language of different disciplines, eventually earning degrees in both computer engineering and engineering management (now called the Master of Engineering Management program).

"Maybe my desire for a multi-disciplinary approach goes back to my undergraduate alma mater, whose motto is, 'Know thyself,'" Bhasin said. "Know yourself and be open to different opportunities that might present themselves. Dartmouth was a hugely supportive environment where I was able to do that."

Diversity is the key to problem-solving

BofA's patent growth is enabled by its diverse workforce, a topic Bhasin feels passionate about. Bhasin is an executive sponsor for the firm's Hispanic and Latino Leadership Advisory Council and the Black Leadership Advisory Council for Global Technology. He also serves on BofA's Asian Advisory Council.

Bhasin believes that diverse teams produce better outcomes because they bring a unique understanding of customers and clients and are more representative of their customer base.

It was the same way in Cybenko's lab, where a multicultural environment with smart people from different backgrounds allowed for more effective problem solving.

"Diverse teams solve problems differently. They address solutions differently, and they acknowledge each other more effectively. I believe that in addition to being the right thing to do, it's actually commercially important. It makes for a better company, because our solutions and outcomes are better."

Aditya Bhasin '96

BofA also sponsors female technologists in programs such as Girls Who Code and is active in recruiting female technologists coming out of college and graduate school. Equally important, Bhasin said, is following through to make sure that women and minorities have all the resources they need to succeed.

"It's not just about hiring somebody, it's also about making sure they have the right support from others who are like them, who understand what it's like to grow through the ranks, and can provide advice on how to network and manage their career," said Bhasin, who is an executive sponsor for BofA's Women in Technology and Operations advocacy group. 

"It's about the hard work of actually seeing it through and achieving the desired outcomes."

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