Category: Student Organizations

Preparing for a Future-Proof Career: My Experience at the Global Leadership Summit

By Jennifer Carolan, accounting student

As part of Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS), the honor society that represents the top five percent of the top 10 percent of AACSB-accredited business schools, I recently attended the 2019 Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. The event had many networking opportunities and included recruiters from Geico and KPMG (a top accounting organization), as well as amazing speakers and 400 other students from all around the globe. Throughout the conference, I made many connections to concepts I am familiar with thanks to my business classes at Michigan Technological University.

Student stands in front of pull-up banner at conference
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business”

 The Future of Work panel highlighted how with artificial intelligence (AI), it is important to have specialized skills and to rapidly adapt to technology. This is the perfect takeaway for me as a Michigan Tech student because Tech is giving me the tools to work with technology and to specialize with a data analytics concentration

During the trip, I became familiar with the Clifton Strengths test from one of the speakers. The Clifton Strengths test helps identify four key categories of strengths to better understand how people perform. The test provides self-awareness and helps understand how people with different skill sets work together, which is one of the skills that won’t lose value in the future and is something we spend a lot of time on in our Team Dynamics business class. 

Another reference to my classes was ethics. Ethics is a part of many of my courses at Michigan Tech and for good reason; I learned that 83 percent of people experience an ethical dilemma in the first two years of employment, and everyone does at some point in their career. One of the speakers taught the RAISE (Recognize, Analyze, Identify, Select, Execute) model to combat unethical situations. It is important to follow through to the end when combating unethical situations, even if it isn’t easy. I plan to take this advice to properly handle unethical situations in my future career. It feels good knowing I have a plan for difficult situations I might encounter.

One of Michigan Tech’s core values–tenacity–was emphasized by a speaker. They defined it as a mathematical equation: skill plus achievement plus effort. Michigan Tech students certainly have tenacity and it is an asset that won’t go away anytime soon. The speaker also mentioned the importance of self-awareness and communication, because the future of work will require soft skills no matter how technologically advanced the world becomes. 

Lastly, a recurring theme throughout the whole event was life-long learning. Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, also believes it’s the right mindset to have in business. It was noted that being a life-long learner is not just about continuing your education, but that it could also be specializing with certificates, learning new technologies, and simply being willing to adapt to our changing world.

Careers of tomorrow won’t look like they do today, and preparing myself for the changing world is an important step. 

Student stands in front of Beta Gamma Sigma pull-up banner at conference.
Students in Beta Gamma Sigma are recognized by employers as being the “best in business.”

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Q&A with Russ Louks

Sit down with Russ Louks, management information systems professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics.

louks-personnel

You received your BS from Michigan Tech in 1979. How has campus evolved since your time as an undergrad?

EERC had just opened. Walker was Sherman Gym. There was no Rozsa Center. The Union was about half its size. K-Day was either on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. A whistle blew at Noon and class was dismissed. Students piled in their cars and went out to McLain for a barbecue. Not knowing when it was going to be held was a lot of fun.

Michigan Tech’s focus on academics hasn’t changed.

Tech students haven’t changed. They are still smart students who are technology focused.

The emphasis on experiential learning and preparation for a career has changed dramatically.

How do your nearly 30 years in industry inform your teaching?

I saw a huge technology change over my 28 years at Ford. Laptops didn’t exist. Devices didn’t exist. Computers were the size of a three-foot bookcase. But the concepts are the same, which is the key to longevity in the field. Eighties and nineties IT is unrecognizable, but the concepts are the same.

It’s about putting what you are trying to learn into a structure you already know.

The new Emerging Technology class I teach at MTU is the same thing I was doing at Ford, interfacing with the real world, using a computer system to use information to make decisions or control a part of the physical environment. It’s a realm I am still incredibly interested in.

What does it mean to be a professor of practice? 

Being a professor of practice goes back to experiential learning—I’ve been there, done that. I have a lot of war stories [chuckle]. I’ve learned how technology evolves. The trends that fizzle out. You learn to look deeper to determine if a trend is really going to make a difference, and how to apply it.

A technology whose hype tails off tend to be the ones who deliver on the offerings. MIS professionals ask: What’s behind this and how can we take advantage of the technology to solve business problems? Getting across the idea that technology is great, but it must solve a problem . . . a technology problem, a business problem, a social problem. Chasing a solution without a problem is wasting money.

You have a diverse background in computer technologies including experience with data collection technologies including 2-D barcodes, RFID technologies, computer networking, serial communications, and handheld computing devices. Why is it important for business students to have technology knowhow?

You can’t run a business today—even a mom and pop shop—without technology solutions. Whether you are in IS, CS, or any other area, you have to touch technology. We must ask: How can technology advance my business? Can I take advantage of it before others? What negative impacts will it have? Will it put me out of business? How will we use it? How will we make money?

It’s an imperfect science.

As the advisor of IT Oxygen Enterprise, what does the team have in store for this academic year?

We’ve got a stream of all-new projects this year including data science projects; we’ve got a project with the Department of Defense, where we will research how to keep mobile networks alive in extreme environments; a project with Microsoft; a project with Ford; and an internal project within Enterprise to develop an easy-to-use web template for the dozens of Enterprise teams on campus.

IT Oxygen is multidisciplinary, bringing together students from computer science, MIS, engineering, and scientific and technical communications. All components are necessary. All skills are complementary–not in competition. Any overlap in skills is what allows us to communicate.

One of your research areas is information security. What can a layperson do now to protect themselves?

Be vigilant. The biggest cybersecurity threat in the world today is people. Perform a risk analysis just like in a financial situation. There isn’t a business immune from cybersecurity issues. You are responsible for the data you collect and store. Change passwords. Use strong passwords. Implement two-factor authentication. It can be a pain, but it’s today’s world. Every morning I check my bank accounts. The cost of convenience is vigilance.

What keeps you motivated?

If you are really enjoying what you are doing, you keep up on trends without realizing it; you read for pleasure. It doesn’t feel like a burden (if it feels like that, you are in the wrong job). Reading, going to events, and learning—not to learn—but because there’s an interest. Working with students is a joy; it’s easy to stay motivated.

What has been your biggest source of pride in working with Huskies?

Watching the transformation that takes place over the course of an internship. The light turns on and students return to campus as young professionals. Just because I teach doesn’t mean students learn. It’s incredibly rewarding when students come back and say, “I get it now.” Seeing them progress and seeing their success makes this job worthwhile.

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Michigan Tech Students Earn Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt

The following Michigan Technological University students successfully completed the American Society for Quality (ASQ) Certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt (CSSYB) examination and are now Certified. Though not a requirement, there were eight students who took the exam, with a 100-percent successful completion. This accomplishment is attributed to the revamping of the Operations and Supply Chain Management Six Sigma Fundamentals course, integrating more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) content while focusing on behavioral and technical dimensions of quality management, a skill in demand by employers.

Michigan Tech has 17 student-members of ASQ and became an official student branch this spring.

Name Major Hometown
Shan Amarmani Engineering Management Bacolod City, Philippines
Timothy Bart Engineering Management Brighton, MI
Bruce Brunson Jr. Biomedical Engineering Detroit, MI
Hailey Huyser Engineering Management Mokena, IL
Kyle Huyser Engineering Management Middleville, MI
Ryan Larson Engineering Management Grand Rapids, MI
Gabriela Mayorga Engineering Management Grand Rapids, MI
Keaton Thames Engineering Management Highland Ranch, CO

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Student Chapter (Branch) of ASQ

The American Society for Quality, an international organization promoting quality management and continuous improvement, has approved a Student Chapter (Branch) of the American Society for Quality at Michigan Tech.

We are the first chapter in Section 1014 representing northern lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The founding membership has 17 student members. The major objectives of the chapter are to promote professional certification, foster a culture of lifelong learning and to connect students with chapters across the country as they transition from student life to their chosen careers.

We are especially thankful to Lisa (Gippert) Smith ’98 (ME) for her work in getting the chapter established. We are also thankful to Don Brecken and Nicole O’Reilly from American Society for Quality, Milwaukee. Three of the 17 members have completed the ASQ Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification. There are several more who will take the exam in May 2018.

The founding officers are

Stephen Butina, President

  • Management major with a concentration in Supply Chain and Operations Management
  • Hometown: Painesdale, MI

Tim Bart, Vice President

  • Engineering management major
  • Hometown: Brighton, MI

Kelby Chrivia, Treasurer

  • Engineering management major
  • Hometown: Hale, MI

Gabriela Mayorga, Secretary

  • Engineering management major
  • Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Dana M. Johnson (SBE) is the advisor for the organization. She is a Senior Member of ASQ.

In the Fall semester, the organization will actively begin recruitment of students. The organization is open to all students including undergraduate and graduate students. Any interested students should contact Stephen Butina or Dana Johnson.

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