Joe Maisano

PhD student, University of Technology Sydney and Company Director, Trading Technology Australia.

One of the smaller companies involved in the IDTC program is Trading Technology Australia (TTA). They have embarked on a unique partnership, with one of the company directors, Joe Maisano, wearing two hats: one as the PhD student and member of the Doctoral Training Program, and the other as the industry representative.

Joe MaisanoWhy did you choose to study the IDTC program?

I was already planning to do a PhD (at the time was enrolled in a masters) and the industry connection worked very well as I was working on a problem my company was interested in.

My work with TTA has more than contributed to the research. It has been the genesis of the problem I am working on. As a consultancy and software vendor, TTA was conducting commercial R&D to develop new models for the electricity financial markets. As such models are at the heart of risk management systems that often require regulator approval, it helps immensely if they have been published in peer-reviewed journals before being implemented in commercial software.

What new skills or experiences have you learned along the way?

I have certainly learned a lot about the research environment and many of the areas of mathematics we covered (in short courses attached to IDTC conferences) were new to me. The cohort experience has also been great through the 4 year program. 

Would you recommend this program to other PhD students?

Yes, and in fact I have recommended it to a friend who is contemplating a PhD. The main piece of advice I would give is to ensure that the industry partner understands the level of commitment (including several weeks away each year) and the time frames for results and is willing to support this.

Who is your industry partner, what has your relationship been like, and what have you learned from them?

My industry partner is Trading Technology Australia (TTA), a company I co-founded in 1996. Working here for nearly 20 years and consulting to many financial and energy companies I have learned an enormous amount.

The rigour of the academic framework (surrounding the PhD) will give the models we are developing credibility over and above that of purely commercial R&D. The IDTC also allows us to retain the intellectual property developed, which is extremely important.

How would you describe your research?

I am modelling electricity prices, including forecasting what the price in the wholesale market may be at any point in the next day, week or year. Australia’s energy market is one of the most advanced and volatile in the world, and prices change every half hour. It is critical for participants such as your own electricity retailer to be able to quantify the risk on buying electricity at a highly volatile floating price and selling it to you for a fixed price.

What problem does your research solve?

My research creates a new model for forecasting electricity prices, pricing derivative contracts and quantifying risk around electricity prices.

What impact does your research have on people’s lives?

If used in the industry, the model could result in lower retail electricity prices, more accurate revenue forecasts for planned wind and solar projects and a valuable tool for managing industrial-scale battery storage.

What career goals do you have after completing the IDTC program?

While I will have the same role in the company as before, the goal is to use what I have learnt to steer the company toward emerging technologies in the data analytics space. While we have always been a highly analytical company, the exposure to the ‘state of the art’ in maths and statistics has highlighted new opportunities for a software and services company such as TTA.