January 2010 - Alumni Spotlight - Eric Ray

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the January 2010 IEM Newsletter.

January's featured IEM alumnus is Eric Ray, .NET architect with Vulcan Materials Company. Eric’s responsibilities include: providing technical leadership for all .Net initiatives in his group, design, construction, and maintenance of several interfaces and services used for integration, and providing oversight and support for projects being completed offshore. Prior to joining Vulcan in April of 2009, Eric was a Developer Team Lead at Time, Inc. /Southern Progress Corporation.

Eric received a BS in Computer Science from UAB back in 2003. Eric entered the IEM program in the fall of 2007 and graduated in 2009. Eric is a professional speaker/presenter for several prominent conferences including; Alabama Code Camp, .Net University, and the .Net User Group. In addition Eric is a technical reviewer for Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Recently Eric shared some of his thoughts regarding his IEM experience. Here they are in his words:

"Having entered the program in the hope of career opportunity and advancement, the biggest surprise for me was the enjoyment and excitement I got out of the encouragement and education around entrepreneurship that is part of the program. I had never dreamed of starting or running my own business before entering the program and wouldn't have had a clue how to get started if I had. Gaining that knowledge was a very nice, albeit unexpected, surprise in addition to all the other valuable skills I was able to grow to benefit me in a traditional workplace.

In addition to increasing my marketability, what I learned in the IEM program has also given me the ability to evaluate and discuss projects and other work activities, not just from a technical perspective, but also from a return on investment and value added point of view. It has also given me a better understanding of how to recognize opportunities to improve leadership, business and software processes, as well as the knowledge and skills to execute on those opportunities.


Now that I have completed the program I am very grateful for the opportunity and can honestly say I grew tremendously from the experience. The program is comprised of truly exceptional staff who possess a wealth of knowledge in the business and IT leadership sphere. I regularly recommend this program to anyone I come across looking for professional growth."

Join Eric on LinkedIn.

December 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Hasana Lawhorn

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the December 2009 IEM Newsletter.

December’s featured IEM alumna is Hasana Lawhorn, Engineer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.                                                         

Hasana received an Associate’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) in 2003. From there she completed a BS in Information Systems Technology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Finally, Hasana entered the IEM program in the fall of 2007 and graduated in 2009.

Recently Hasana shared some of her thoughts regarding the IEM experience. Here they are in her words:

Q: What was the greatest value that you received from the program?
A: "I received a myriad of knowledge in various subjects from Project Management to Networking that has made me more marketable as well as more proficient at my job."

Q: What was your favorite class and why?
A: "It's difficult to choose but my favorite class was Information Engineering Technologies. It was a good balance between textbook knowledge and insight into current industry practices from experts."

Q: What did you get from the program that you did not expect?
A: "I did not expect to obtain a promotion. I also didn't expect to begin building the network of professionals that has been established. It wasn't easy, but being in the program has overall been a good experience."

Join Hasana on LinkedIn.

November 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Randy Sutton

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the November 2009 IEM Newsletter.

November's featured IEM alumnus is Randy Sutton, Engineering Manager at Vulcan Engineering Company. Randy’s responsibilities include; completing design reviews, creating project control mechanisms, and initiating and refining standards for pricing and project control. Prior to joining Vulcan, Randy was a Project Engineering Manager with HMC Technologies in New Albany, Mississippi. A common thread throughout Randy's career has been a passion for process, more on that later.

Randy received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UAB back in 1991. Randy entered the IEM program in the fall of 2007 and graduated in 2009. Randy is a member of several professional organizations including; ASPE and NCEES. Another interesting fact about Randy is that he is a Registered Professional Engineer in seven states throughout the Southeast.

Recently Randy shared some of his thoughts regarding his IEM experience. Here they are in his words:

"I felt much improved in several aspects, but certainly the greatest value I took away from this program was the confidence it built for me. I have a new found desire to believe, develop, and execute new plans both business and personal that I once would have dismissed, or made excuses to avoid. This confidence and expanded tool set has made me more keenly aware of my desires and capabilities. It indeed enhances my performance and maybe more importantly my motivational point of view.

My technical interests were jolted back alive in software engineering. My experience in project management made "Technical Project Management" very fun for me, I got to share a lot of insight based on my experiences. But I would have to say my favorite was probably Don Appleby’s "Strategic Management." It kind of brought it all together for me and reinforced my comfort level with ways to evaluate strategic thinking and decision making.

The human aspect of this experience snuck up on me. I did not expect to have so much in common and become so close to many of my classmates and instructors; it was truly a pleasure to be there, in the moment."

In "Business Process Modeling" Randy authored a well written and interesting article on flowcharts. Randy uses flowcharts in order to “foster understanding” and “bridge the gaps” when he has a process to explain.

Join Randy on LinkedIn.

October 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Alan Hill

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the October 2009 IEM Newsletter.

October's featured IEM alumnus is Alan Hill, Center Director and Regional Coordinator at the Alabama Technology Network (ATN). Alan’s responsibilities include: coordination, directing staff, marketing, and business development. Prior to joining ATN, Alan was a Senior Project Engineer/Senior Sales Engineer with Clarage Fans/Zurn Air Systems Division. A common thread throughout Alan’s career has been a passion for ISO, more on that later.

Alan received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UAB back in 1988. Alan entered the IEM program in the fall of 2007 and graduated in 2009. Alan is a member of several professional organizations including: Society for Quality (ASQ) and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

Recently Alan shared some of his thoughts regarding his IEM experience. Here they are in his words:

"The greatest value I received from the program was its focus on management practices and principles. I especially liked the speakers that were brought in for the various classes. Insight into their management strategies was interesting and beneficial in my management development.

My favorite class had to be Strategic Management. Shortly before I pursued my IEM degree, I was promoted to Center Director. As part of my responsibility, I became more involved in my organization's strategic management process. This class provided me more insight and a better understanding of this process.

I had several unexpected things that I valued from the IEM program. One was a better understanding of information technology processes such as network systems, network security and software development. The other was the caliber of professionals the program brings in. I thoroughly enjoyed working on class projects with fellow students and found myself learning a great deal from these professionals."

Alan chose to partner with Janaki Peri for his graduate project . Alan was able to utilize his expertise with ISO in order to create a book entitled "A Practical Guide For ISO Quality Management System Implementation."

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August 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Chris Lumpkin

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the August 2009 IEM Newsletter.               

August's featured IEM alumni is Chris Lumpkin, Chris is an ASP Administrator III with Automatic Data Processing (ADP). Overall Chris has ten years experience in system administration and seven years of Systems Design and Architecture. In addition to his day job, Chris is also teaching Implementing Active Directory in Windows 2003 Environment at ITT Tech.

Chris came into IT from an untraditional path when after receiving a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Montevallo University. In 2007 he entered the IEM program and hasn’t looked back since. One of the biggest surprises for Chris was that the IEM program was very introspective. He learned about goal setting and controlling his destiny and now feels he is capable of achieving more than he ever thought possible.

Chris’ favorite class in the IEM program was Business Process Modeling, because he felt that it really summed up the whole program. During the class, he was able to utilize many of the skills gained in the program in order to look for ways to make business processes more efficient. A close second was the Software Engineering course where he was able to see how a software project comes together from behind the curtain.

Chris took a different tact when choosing a topic for his IEM senior project, he decided to pull several goals together and achieve them all at once. He ended up writing a book entitled E. mortal. Chris got the inspiration for this project from many sources; after reading The Goal, he realized that you can teach technical concepts by telling a story, in addition he had committed to a writing group to product a chapter, and finally with the guidance of Don Appleby, his technical advisor. If you are interested in learning more about Chris’ book visit his website at http://projectemortal.blogspot.com.

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July 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Johna Ledlow

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the July 2009 IEM Newsletter.

July’s featured IEM alumna is Johna Ledlow. Johna is a senior consultant with more than fifteen years experience in the areas of project management, information technology and telecommunications.  This exertise has been utilized in the areas of accounting, banking, construction, finance, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries. Johna has partnered with various organizations on software implementations, data management, technology strategies, compliance, security solutions and business intelligence.

Johna received her Peace Officer’s certification from the University of Alabama Law Enforcement Academy. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Samford University. Johna holds her Master of Theological Studies from Spring Hill College and a Master of Engineering Information Management from University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Johna appreciated a number of facets of the IEM program including: networking with like-minded professionals, industry instructors with real-life business experience, and the community leader speakers. For her graduate project, Johna revisited the premise that IEM was founded upon, “asking senior leadership about their needs in future leaders”. This project represented Johna’s favorite class in the program. One unexpected benefit that Johna received from IEM program was having an accountability partner to help her grow.

Since graduating from IEM in May 2009, Johna has been filling her spare time with reading, attending cooking classes and wine tastings.

Johna and her husband, Jim, reside in Trussville and attend Holy Infant of Prague Catholic Church. Johna enjoys spending time with Jim, their four dogs and cat.

Johna treasures the friendships she has made with students, instructors and alumni during her 20 months of IEM course work. Johna would be happy to speak with any prospective student and share her experiences while attending the program.

Join Johna on LinkedIn.

June 2009 - Alumni Spotlight - Janki Peri

This alumni spotlight was originally shown in the June 2009 IEM Newsletter.

June’s featured IEM alumna is Janki "Jani" Peri, Project Manager with XcitekSolutionsPlus. Jani’s responsibilities include: management of an off-shore development team, architecture and design for a Swift Custodian Interface, and software development lifecycle management. Prior her current role at XSP, Jani was a Senior Software Engineer. In total Jani has over eleven years of total software development and full lifecycle experience.

Jani received a BS of Commerce from Osmania University in 1989 and a BS of Law from Nagarjuna University in 1993. Several years later after the encouragement of her mentor and Chief Technology Officer, Dan Rezter (also an IEM alumni), she entered the IEM program. Jani is one of the most recent alumni of IEM program, graduating in May of this year.

Q&A with Jani

Question: What was the greatest value that you received from the program?

Answer: I learned a lot from the IEM program. The program gave me the confidence to speak publicly, network with a whole group of people and challenge myself to work hard. Today, after the completion of the program, I feel confident that this will lead me to other opportunities in my career.

Question: What was your favorite class and why?

Answer: Project Management was a class that I enjoyed a lot. It taught me the various facets of project management and gave me a 360-degree view of this process. This was a hands-on experience since everything that I learned in the class was directly applicable to what I did at work.

Question: What did you get from the program that you didn’t expect?

Answer: I expected to learn a lot of academic knowledge, but I did not expect any real-world experiences in the classroom. We had several visits by senior-level management from various companies who shared their experience in leadership. They also shared their unique perspective on what qualities a good leader should have.

Join Jani on LinkedIn.