There are two questions I’m asked often:

“Why Huntsville?”

“Why Higher Education?”

The first question is asked by people who are NOT plugged in to what’s happening in North Alabama and specifically Huntsville.  Toyota/Mazda Plant, Facebook Data Center, Google Data Center, Blue Origin (Amazon Space Flight), Mid-City Project, FBI Expansion, Red Stone Arsenal, Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA), Boeing, and a Host of supporting companies/contractors that fill up Research Park.  All of this plus a thriving Entrepreneurial Market due to an environment that encourages Small Business creation, sustenance, and overall success.  Lastly most major Cities in the US are already established and have reinvented themselves multiple times over, most people don’t have front row seats to see a new City establish itself, build out infrastructure, chose what it’s identity will be, and come of age… In Huntsville we do.

The second question is asked by people who know how broad Technology is as a field and the options we have in terms of Industries to work in.  As a Technology Professional I started as a student tech in College then worked in Government, Private Sector, Wall Street, Non-Profit/Religious, Emerging Markets, and Higher Education.  I wouldn’t change my journey at all because those experiences, connections, projects completed, skills learned and mastered, and industries familiarized have made me the man I am today.  While working as a Student Technician at my Alma Matter, Andrews University, I learned skills that would influence my entire career.  As CIO or Director of Information Technology for an Institute of Higher Education I get to return that favor for aspiring IT Professionals by bringing them into the Tech Team and allowing them to experience what working in a Tech Shop is like while teaching them skills the classroom simply can’t offer.  Because of my background and experiences I’m often asked to speak to student groups or classes about a wide range of topics ranging from Entrepreneurship and Application Development to Purpose and Perspective.  Recently I was invited by our Speech Professor to speak to what I thought was 1 speech class about Cross-Cultural Communication as this was the section of the curriculum they were going through.  I accepted and then found there were 6 sections of the same class, 4 at our Hanceville Campus and 2 at our Oneonta Campus.  I wasn’t able to speak to the classes at Oneonta but I did speak to all 4 sections of the class at Hanceville and it was an absolute treat!  Here are pictures I took with each of the 4 classes:

 

 

I shared with them from my time working/living in Southern Africa and the different cultures there.  We spoke about Perspective, Purpose, and how differences don’t always have to equate to one being better or worse, right or wrong, sometimes a difference is just that… Different.  My favorite part of each section was Q&A where they fired questions at me rapid-fire style.  Their questions gave me a window into their interests, values, perspectives, goals, and aspirations and allowed me to engage with them at a deeper level.  I recently saw one of the students in the elevator on my way to my office and she thanked me for what I shared in the class, spoke to how it impacted her, and said her outlook was changed.  (She also asked me to Sing something but that’s a whole different story)  I thanked her and went on my way but had to pause later realizing the awesomeness of that exchange and the unimaginable impact we can have on these young lives: the Next Generation.

So what about you, are there some questions that people routinely ask you that spark a deep philosophical discussion?  Join the conversation, leave a comment below!

 

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