Tech 10 Awards 2015
Meet Rhode Island's top ten IT professionals.
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Founder and CEO of Scandia.
In plain speak: Scandia helps businesses and companies in the financial services sector build and maintain their websites and create custom application solutions.
Impact: Scandia is able to take existing business processes or problems, from administrator processes to managing client records, and create web-based and mobile app-based solutions. It provides employees with access to such information not only from the office, but from wherever they may be.
How did you get into this field? I went to school for advertising and then really got into the web development side of things. It was also kind of the local scene at the time. This was Providence in 2000, 2001, and I did my internship at Johnson and Wales. They basically handed me a big 1,000-page book and said, ‘go learn this.’ And that’s where it all started. There is so much information and self-learning available on the web. Ask Google and it will show you the resources to learn something else.
You visited your daughter’s second grade class to teach them about programming. Did they get it? The initiative is called Code.org, and it’s really about critical and logical thinking. That’s what software is. It’s a lot like learning a language and when you’re young, it comes more naturally. With the kids it’s about giving them the tools to say, ‘alright, we have these two little guys on the screen. How can I make one of them move ten steps?’ They get to write that sequence and then actually watch it happen. It’s fun for them because there is immediate feedback.
Data management section manager at Amica.
In plain speak: O’Rourke manages a team of skilled tech-gurus including database administrators, data integration groups, business intelligence specialists and warehouse groups.
Impact: She and her team make it so that the company’s data, everything from sales to customer claims, is readily available and digestible for the rest of Amica’s employees.
You were originally an art major in college. What made you switch to computer science? In my art days we started with a computer graphics design course at Rhode Island College. It was really fascinating back then to see how you could make something three-dimensional as opposed to flat or one-dimensional. That really piqued my interest and kind of evolved.
Would you say there is a connection between art and technology? We think of technology as a little creative. You have to think outside the box to accomplish things and to resolve an issue and often we’ll find ourselves drawing diagrams whether it’s data flow diagrams or system flow diagrams. Application development, database design, data integration techniques: I’d say all of them are very creative because you have to think, ‘what is this going to look like, how is this going to function?’ It’s a lot of visualization, and then bringing that vision to life — just like art.
Co-owner and managing partner of itSM Solutions.
In plain speak: itSM Solutions provides a set of on-demand, video training programs that allow individuals to become educated and certified in various IT professions.
Impact: Not only has itSM Solutions made it easier for IT professionals to learn new skills without having to travel, it has also has provided a network for their customers to connect and learn from one other.
It seems as though people would be wary of learning technical jobs online. How did you get people on board? We started this back in 2005 with traditional classroom training around the globe and, in 2007, we had the opportunity to create e-learning versions of those programs. At that time, video was becoming very popular, so we looked to see how we could recreate the classroom through video technology and social networks. Then, in 2008, the economy struggled. Companies cut their travel expenses, their training and out-of-the-office budgets but the training requirements were still there. It became the perfect storm for what we had to offer.
What role do social networks play? A key part is the mentoring piece, which is centered on LinkedIn. It’s the perfect forum. You have the whole global network at your fingertips. If you’re taking the training and have a question, you can post the question and get answers from all over the globe from mentors who have already been through that program or might be going through that program at the same time.