BA Mathematics, ’78
As you look back at your days at UWF, describe your best memory.
I have many good memories from my days at UWF. Two are “best” memories. I received a letter from my professor stating that I was one of two students being honored by the faculty of Mathematics and Statistics as an outstanding graduate. This, for me, was proof-positive that you can earn recognition through hard work and dedication without being the smartest kid in the class. Second, I was offered a job at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft several weeks prior to graduation. I’m not sure who was the most excited, me or my parents.
While you were at UWF, what did you think was its most outstanding and/or unique quality? Without a doubt, the quality versus quantity scale tipped heavily to the quality side. Class sizes were conducive to individual attention. I was a student, not a statistic. Not only did my professors know their material academically, but many of them had ties to the business community that brought real-world experiences into the classrooms. Companies, many with national reach, recruited at UWF knowing that graduates were well founded in their fields. The fact that UWF’s main campus is nestled in a beautifully wooded area where distractions are minimized added to the quality of campus life.
As you reflect, did your education at UWF have an impact on where you are today?
The two time periods that I spent at UWF were critical to my career. The bachelor’s degree that I received in 1978 prepared me for the technical jobs that I held early in my career. Ten years later, I returned to UWF and completed several courses that rounded out my business skills. The combination of technical and business skills made me attractive to my current employer.
Describe what you do/did professionally including the type of company you work for.
Immediately after graduation, I worked for several years as a scientific programmer at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. I worked with two other UWF graduates that paved the way for me and others that followed later. From Pratt & Whitney, I moved back to Fort Walton Beach where I became a partner in a software development company. It was through that company that I landed at Eglin Federal Credit Union where I currently serve as a senior vice president and chief information officer. In this position, I once again have the pleasure of working along side several UWF graduates from several disciplines. We make a great team.
What advice would you give students today who are considering studying one of the disciplines in the School of Science and Engineering? Find a discipline that you have a passion and aptitude for and make that your primary focus. Be good at something. The skills that you develop will be a launching point for your career. As your career develops, take note of changes in your field and adapt your skills to these changes. Changes create opportunities. Don’t be afraid to switch gears as opportunities arise. My bachelor’s degree is in applied mathematics. Thirty years later, I’m a CIO that hasn’t worked a math problem in years. I am, however, still applying the underlying problem-solving and organizational skills that I developed early in my career to today’s business environment. Find people that you admire and allow them to mentor you. Learn from their experiences. If you, in turn, earn their respect, they will be your best allies when opportunities for advancement cross your path. Become a team player. Find ways to move your career forward while moving the department and the company forward.
Last, would you share one thing about yourself that would give others insight into your interests, hobbies, etc.
My wife and I enjoy strolling through the neighborhood with our two dogs after a busy day at work. I enjoy single-track trail riding and competing in short-distance triathlons.