Alumni Spotlight: Scott Tankersley

Scott TankersleyInterview with IEM Alumni, Scott Tankersley on his time at IEM, and how he's putting that IEM Masters Degree to work for him today. 

IEM: Briefly describe yourself.  Who are you, and what do you do?

ST:  I am a very outgoing individual who enjoys a wide variety of activities.  On a personal level, I enjoy being active, participating in many cycling events throughout the year, as well as triathlons.  For fun, I teach cycling at a local gym here in Birmingham.  Furthermore, my wife and I just had baby Kowen, making 2 boys for me!  Professionally, I am very busy working for NWN, a national IT services company offering managed services, cloud computing and enterprise software delivery.  Specifically, I work in the software delivery and consulting group overseeing many efforts with one of our clients while managing the development of a new regional product.

IEM: How did you end up at IEM?

ST: Having originally graduated from the UAB School of Engineering, I received some information regarding the program and once I checked into the details, it sounded very interesting.

IEM: How did IEM affect your career? 

ST: IEM prompted many changes in my career.  At the time of graduation, I received a promotion at work and was given responsibility of managing a large portfolio of business critical software projects.  Every step from that moment has been a step up.

IEM: What's a memory you have of IEM that you'll never forget?

ST:  Well, off the record, I’ll never forget making all the friends and watching football after class on Saturdays in the fall!!  On the record, I will never forget standing up and presenting our final project and feeling like we were pitching an idea to Venture Capitalists.  We took it very seriously and that day put a cap on what was a very rewarding time in the program.

IEM: What advice do you have for others traveling the same road you've taken?

ST:  Work hard and continuously assess your short term situation against your long term goals.  If you see any misalignment in the two, take action to correct it.

Just for fun:

IEM: What book are you reading right now?

ST:  Consulting 101 by Lew Sauder

IEM: One fun fact about yourself. (Favorite movie, animal, talent..)

ST:  I am a music fanatic.  I love just about any type of live music and I like exploring artists who are good, but haven’t made it big.

IEM: For people visiting Birmingham, what’s the one hot spot they simply must see before they leave here?

ST:  Fortunately for Birmingham, it is difficult to name just one spot.  With some of the latest improvements we have experienced, there are many things to do here.  To name one, though, I would recommend Vulcan Park and just stand and look over the city.

Brandon Morgado Alumni Spotlight June 2013

Brandon Morgado Alumni Spotlight June 2013From IEM To Amazon

We know that IEM has clients from all parts of the globe, but we recently caught up with 2011 graduate Brandon Morgado, who is now in Seattle, WA. When Brandon started IEM he lived in Birmingham and worked at Alabama Power as a developer. Following the program he went to work for an IEM Advisory Board member Gary York at a start up called Emergency Callworx. Now he is in Seattle working for Amazon and looking to hire IEM graduates.

IEM: So how did you go from IEM to Amazon?

Brandon: I was working at Alabama Power as a computer engineer/developer when some friends introduced me to the IEM program. I applied and started the program and have to admit that APCO paid for most of my tuition. But, two things happened while I was in the program. The first was Dale really got me thinking about what I wanted to do. I never really thought about it, and what I had thought about was not what I really wanted. Through the contacts in the program I got the job working with Gary, which I really enjoyed. Second, was my church. Church of The Highlands was going to send a team to Seattle to start a new church called Hallows Church. My wife and I really wanted to be a part of that team. So I started looking and found the opportunity with Amazon. If had never been a part of IEM, or worked with Gary, I would never have gotten the job at Amazon.

IEM: What are you doing at Amazon?

Brandon: I am a technical support engineer, which means I do a lot of system administration and cloud computing set up. I also do a lot of applicant screening, which is kind of funny because I think of Dale’s book, “Resumes Are Worthless,” a lot.  It’s a whole different game being on the other side.

IEM: What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

Brandon: A lot of Dale’s classes I really enjoyed. He talked about the responsibility of success being on you and its true. And, you also can’t just let opportunities walk by. If I had not taken the job with the start-up I would not be here. I still think about entrepreneurial ideas all the time, but I’m having a lot of fun at Amazon.

How is your family, are they embracing Seattle?

Brandon: Absolutely, the move here was a joint decision obviously with my wife and two kids, and last month we had another baby. Our life is pretty busy with the move, new job, the kids, and the baby, but we are all having fun. 

David George Alumni Spotlight July 2013

David George IEM Spotlight July 2013Alumni Spotlight – David George – Just Finished IEM

In past spotlights we’ve visited with earlier graduates of the IEM program to see what they are doing, but sometimes the most interesting perspectives are fresh ones. David George, technology manager, recently completed the IEM program in May. Here are some of his thoughts on the program, what changed him in the process, and sage advice for second year IEM clients.


Alumni Spotlight : Jill Moller April 2013

Screen_shot_2013-04-06_at_12.04.22_PMAlumni Spotlight – Jill Moller, IEM class of 2010

We caught up with Jill the day after being in line for six-hours to renew her car tag in Jefferson Co., and she was smiling! That just seems to be her general nature. Jill has been busy since graduating IEM in 2010 and credits the program for helping her find her niche at Altec as Business Intelligence Lead.

Q: How did IEM help you in your career?

A: Being in IEM helped me recognize what I wanted to do, what I was good at, and probably most important – how to get it. It is what Dale [Callahan] talks about in class. It is your responsibility to go after what you want. I was at Altec and wanted to move into this area of business intelligence but I didn’t know how to ask for it. IEM gave me those tools. I’m fortunate to work for a company that really believes that people are its greatest strength and when they realized I wanted to make this move, they supported it. Doing business intelligence is very fulfilling for me and I’ve grown in a lot of ways.

Q: What is next for you?

A: For the immediate future I’m working on building a team here at Altec to work with me on Qlikview software. I’m also working (constantly) on process improvement, how information flows. I also want to look for ways that I can make a positive impact at Altec.

Q: What guidance would you give to IEM clients entering their second year?

A: IEM is really such a short period of time. Soak up all you can and take advantage of it, and the time with your classmates. It’s not a cliché, you really do get out of it what you put into it. Sometimes when you enter that second year you don’t fully realize how much you are going to miss instructors like Don Appleby.  Oh, and make sure you focus on the softer skills IEM teaches; communication skills, the ability to work as a team with people. That is what will really help you in the future.

Alumni Spotlight : Frank Flow

By Helen Todd

Jar__BeeWe’ve heard that some IEM graduates are doing some “sweet” things, and 2010 graduate Frank Flow is no exception. Here is an update on what he’s been up to over the past couple of years.

IEM: Are you still in the same job you were in when you went through the IEM program?

Frank: Negative. I’m not in the position I was when I went through the program I’m now an account executive with Dwight W. Prouty Company. In a way I believe IEM has continued to shape my career path to an extent. The smallest way is that I have a Master’s degree. I believe it has opened some doors, and maybe in a way closed others. Regardless, the IEM program has continued to shape my career and especially the way I view myself.

IEM: We understand that you are selling Flow Honey as kind of hobby?

Frank: Yes, I got bees, equipment and now I get stung a lot. It’s kind of a hobby that pays for itself. It is a lot of work! However, everyone loves local honey, so I sell it, make a little money and get stung some more. It is nothing I want to quit my day job over, but it’s been interesting and a learning curve. There are couple of other little side projects I’m working on, but nothing that will take the place of current job.

IEM: Do you have any words of wisdom for those about to graduate from the IEM program?

Frank: Hah, no, no wisdom or guidance from this guy. But, I do wish the current class good luck and a hearty congratulations!

Alumni Spotlight with Paul McGuire

There Is A Third Option

an interview with Paul McGuire

Screen_shot_2013-01-31_at_4.34.08_PMIEM recently sat down with 2012 graduate Paul McGuire. When Paul entered the IEM program, he was an admitted introvert who had worked in the IT department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBS) for 16 years. During the program, Paul decided to act on his passion and created the Affluent Student, and today he recently moved into a new management position at BCBS heading up the Leadership and Professional Development program. How did all this happen, and what role did IEM play? Read on to find out.

IEM: Paul, you recently moved into a new position at BCBS; it’s hard to switch careers, let alone do it in a big company, how did all this come about?

Paul: In October of last year I was online at work and noticed this job posting. I went home that night and told my wife that they just posted my new job opportunity.

It was not that easy though. When you have been the “IT guy” for 16 years, I knew I would have to change some perceptions about me. I’ve always been about continuing education and felt it was important. During my career I’ve taken the company’s classes and noticed it always seemed to be the same small group of people attending those classes. So I felt there was a real opportunity to expand the impact of our leadership programs. I have also been told I’m a good teacher, so I just decided to go for it. But, it was a big risk. In a company this size, word gets around. If you put yourself out there and don’t get what you go after, people know you are looking. It can impact your future prospects in your current organization.

The interview process was intense. Part of it required me to do a presentation. I tried to think outside of the box and remembered I had a video of the presentation I did at the IEM Fall Seminar. I asked if I could submit that. Later they said it showed that not only did I have the skills, but that because other people have asked me to present it gave me credibility. From there the rest of the interview process went fairly smoothly.

IEM: So how did the IEM program help you?

Paul: When I started IEM I was a classic introvert. Learning how to do different types of presentations and then being able to do them in a “safe” environment was extremely beneficial. Next would be the entrepreneurial spirit of the program. It helped me create Affluent Student. And, BCBS noticed my side company as well in the interview process. They were impressed that I was already doing some thought leadership and they actually want me to incorporate it into the new programs I’m developing for the company.

Overall though I think the biggest thing I took from IEM was the ability to think differently. The realization that what you have done to date doesn’t have to define your future, and you have to do something to make things happen.

IEM: So why did you want to make the change?

Paul: As good as I was in IT, I realized IT is a tool in a company like mine.  I wanted to commit to BCBS as a company and be involved in how the business works. I want to be that guy that helps leaders across the company solve their problems. At the end of the day I want to help managers become leaders and show them that they are more than just their job or position.

IEM: Are you going to continue with Affluent Student?

Paul: Absolutely, I plan to take some of my blogs from Affluent Student and package them together into books. I’ve discovered that even though all of the information is out there for free, some people just want it packaged together and are willing to pay for it. It will take some work, of course, to bridge the information together, but I’m excited about doing it.

IEM: So what advice would you give those in the IEM program now?

Paul: I think most people enter the program either wanting to advance in their current job, or want to start an entrepreneurial venture. I want them to see that there is a third option if you’re willing to look beyond what your resume currently says about you. You can keep your job, follow your passion, and maybe even transition to a new career.

For more information on Paul and Affluent Student check out his web site at

Alumni Spotlight December 2012: Ken Sawyer

KenSawyer2Alumni Spotlight with Ken Sawyer, MEng, MED, PMP, CISSP (and there are more…)

You can tell by the list of certifications after Ken Sawyer’s name that he has a passion for knowledge. As a 2009 IEM graduate, Ken still says it is the best thing in his professional life that’s ever happened to him. So, what has Ken been up to since he graduated the program? We caught up with him following his delivery of a beta product to a pretty big client:

Q: What has changed for you following IEM?

Ken: When I came out of the program, I was working for a company called Valmont Industries and I knew that was coming to an end. While my wife and I already had one business in place, Sawyer Systems, I had a friend come to me and ask me to write some inspection and compliance software. I talked with my son, who shares my entrepreneurial spirit and we formed Sawyer Solutions, LLC with our family and then Blue-Sky-Innovations, LLC with my friend’s company. The product is now in beta and it really wasn’t until last month we started to build some steam. The product is being field tested at the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and will be in a couple of other locations by the end of December. It’s been a long, slow process, but any start-up is a slow process.

Q: What is your best advice for anyone wanting to launch a tech startup?