Senior Consultant
HP

Gary has had over 20 years of Information Technology experience, 10 of those years working specifically with manufacturing systems. He has contributed to and managed multiple projects for software systems dealing with plant assets, interfacing operations and financial data, implementations, new development, enhancements, and production support. His responsibilities have included project management, product consultation, defining and developing a technical architecture, requirements gathering, analysis and design, coding, help desk support, and direct management of employees. Gary has served as Team Leader for a maintenance management deployment group for a world wide automotive manufacturer, a Project Leader for a large US apparel manufacturer, a Team Leader for a commercially available plant maintenance system, a Product Consultant for a midwest utility, an Analyst for a large petroleum provider in the US, and an application developer on a commercially available telephone provisioning system. Gary earned a Bachelor of Business in Quantitative Information Sciences with a minor in Management from Western Illinois University, 1982 and an MBA with a minor in MIS from UM-St. Louis in 1989.

We sat down with Gary and asked him some questions.
  • Why did you decide to come to UMSL?
           It was convenient (near work), the price was reasonable, they recoginzed credit hours earned as an undergraduate and didn't make me take a lot of extra/redundant classes, and they offered a program I could custimize the way I wanted it.
  • Why did you pursue a career in information systems?
           In those days it wasn't called Information Systems! It was Data Processing (DP). First, I enjoyed (and had an aptitude) for the 'logic' behind computer programing. It made sense to me. Second, I didn't want to graduate with a vanilla 'Management' degree that would allow me to be a night manager at a convenience store. IS gave me specifically marketable skills that I could use for a job.
  • What college classes did you find most useful to your career?
           This is heretical today, but the two classes that were most helpful to me when I started my first job were my introductory programming classes: COBOL 1 and COBOL 2.
  • If you were in college today, what courses would you take?
           It is harder today than it was 'a few' years ago. The IT environment was much more homogenous in the early 1980's than it is today. I think everyone needs a couple of programming classes to understand the constructs and thinking that goes into developing a program. After that it becomes a question of how much time you have. You still need Analysis and Design classes as well as network, security, database and SQL, project management, plus the business classes. Yes, it is harder to pick specific classes today.
  • How did you continue your education after your first degree?
           I got my MBA from UMSL! I recognized that my IT degree is what helped me get my first job. It was the MBA (business side) that helped me advance my career. The value of IS is what it provides to the business and you need the business backround to understand what they want and need.
  • How did you find your first job?
           Signed up for an on-campus interview at the Career Services office.
  •        The early 1980's brought the first IT slow hiring slow down. NO ONE was hiring. Companies pulled their campus visits and cancelled second interviews. People who didn't worry about grades because anyone with a DP degree could get a job ... couldn't get a job. Even with good grades it was tough. I would have gone anywhere but I got lucky and was offered an entry level job in St. Louis (near where I grew up).
  • In what non-academic activities did you participate in college that you would recommend to others (and why)?
           I always worked part time while I was an undergraduate. Working in the University data center was good experience for working in the industry. I would recommend doing something 'with computers' while you are in school. I was working full time writing programs when I worked on my MBA and that is TOUGH!
  • How would you change your career if you had it to do all over again?
           I would get some more industry certifications.
  • What advice would you give to someone just starting in the field?
           Learn all you can. Remeber, what you do is for someone else to use. Understand what they are tyring to accomplish and make their job as easy as you can. Within your constraints, do as much for them as possible.
  • Look into your crystal ball. What do you see changing in the IS field in the future?
           I don't think this is changing, it is just getting more critical. Get close (and stay close) to your customer. Keep them in mind. The easy stuff is going to the lowest bidder so you need to provide value.