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, at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama 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.
IEM: From the time you started in the IEM program to the time you finished – did anything change in your purpose for completing IEM?
David: Yes, definitely. I originally came into the program with the sole focus of getting a graduate level degree. I figured I would do the required work for the grades and move on. I never expected to have my whole perspective on career and myself change in the process. I definitely have a broader perspective on things now and find myself constantly looking for ways to improve workflows and processes in all areas of my life.
IEM: What is the one biggest takeaway from the program?
David: As mentioned before, the new perspective and mindset on my career and myself. The program not only gives you an entrepreneurial view on the world but you also gain a more introspective look on yourself and your “company of one”. You find yourself having different conversations with people than you did in the past and you also find yourself in a new and expanded network of peers to share those ideas with.
IEM: Any advice for people thinking about entering the program?
David: This isn’t your typical MBA program. If you are looking for a program where lectures are one sided (professor to student) this is not your program. Discussions are solicited and encouraged. The professors in this program take a special interest in the clients and relationships are formed from that. I don’t think you get that in most graduate level programs. I encourage people that are thinking about the program to talk to current and past clients and get their take on it. That is the best way to get the most information on the degree.
IEM: Any advice for clients in their second year of the program?
David: My father used to repeatedly give me the advice to “press on”. That is what I would offer to the 2nd year clients. Don’t stop pressing now. Stay focused and finish strong. This is definitely a degree that gives you what you put into it. Enjoy the classes and time with other students. You will miss that when you graduate. Take every opportunity you get in the program to network with other people and try new things. This is the safest atmosphere to do that.
Alumni 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.
By Helen Todd
We’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!
There Is A Third Option
an interview with Paul McGuire
IEM 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 http://www.affluentstudent.com.