What about your personality or your professional strengths make you a good fit for your sector and your role at the port?
It’s probably the wisdom I’ve gained in 30 years of IT leadership from serving as an IT director. You just learn the business of IT. Whether it’s a timber operation at Weyerhaeuser, working with cloud services at Microsoft, or now the Port of Tacoma, I still apply the same principles to deliver IT services to the organization. These places have different needs, but how you run it – how you run a service desk, how you secure your desktop computers, how you provide applications so people can get their jobs done every day – it’s pretty common across all of them.
In your director position, are you still getting down into the weeds of IT projects and puzzle-solving?
Oh yes, absolutely. That’s my favorite part of the job. It’s important that I understand the day-to-day challenges of making the technology work. At the same time, I’m always working with our business leaders to identify opportunities to accomplish more with technology. I think both sides of that equation are tremendously rewarding for me. I like getting into the weeds of something like network security and thinking about how we are securing the network using the tools we have, and also thinking about what new pieces of technology could help us be more efficient in that work.
When you were a PLU student, what drew you toward the emerging field of computer science?
I came to PLU planning to be a math teacher and a basketball coach, but I was forced to rethink that plan when I got into my second semester of calculus. I remember thinking, “I don’t think I can do this for four years.” I also took a computer science class and I loved it. I realized that I had a good business mind, and an interest in business as well as technology. I basically created a double major in computer science and economics.
That double major combined with your athletic commitments sounds like a lot.
In retrospect, it really was. But I’ve come to really appreciate how my experiences as a computer science and economics student, and also a student athlete, blended together at PLU. It was a demanding load of commitments, and it taught me how to manage my time well and really focus on what I needed to do.