Twenty-nine information technology (IT) professionals at Georgia Tech recently completed the 2019-2020 GT Digital Leaders program, facilitated by MOR Associates.
"I strongly believe that leadership training is critical to the effectiveness of any organization,” said Jim McGarrah, interim vice president for Information Technology and chief information officer (CIO). “Good leaders are able to clearly communicate an organization’s mission and vision, motivate their employees, and inspire highly effective performance. Programs like the GT Digital Leaders Program help current and emerging leaders better understand what it takes to create and lead effective teams to the benefit of the organization, the leaders themselves, and the employees.”
McGarrah added that GT Digital Leaders is an essential element in current efforts to build a solid professional development program for IT. A newly established professional development task force is being led by Dr. Shannon Thomas, director of IT for the Scheller College of Business and a former graduate of the GT Digital Leaders program.
MOR, which stands for “maximizing operational effectiveness”, helps develop emerging leaders in public, private, and nonprofit sectors through goal-setting activities, executive coaching, workshop instruction, and applied learning. Tailored to fit the unique needs of Georgia Tech, the GT Digital Leaders program enables staff members to develop a broader perspective of leadership within the context of higher education.
IT at Georgia Tech has partnered with MOR Associates since 2016 to offer the program. The initial cohort included six leaders in the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and was followed by cohorts of 10 to 12 professionals from OIT as well as academic and distributed IT units across Georgia Tech. The GT Digital Leaders program has grown in popularity and value to the IT community each year since it was introduced. OIT’s chief operating officer, Cas D’Angelo, was a participant in the first cohort and has observed the program build stronger leaders and relationships over the past four years.
"I can recall looking for solutions to the challenges that I faced as a new director when beginning the GT Digital Leaders program,” D’Angelo said. “While the experience helped me personally develop and find solutions, it also became clear to me in the process that it had the potential to do much more. I have watched the program grow under three different CIOs and help the IT community improve coordination, promote unity of purpose, and cut through red tape for enhanced support of the Institute. Each new cohort brings fresh ideas and perspectives, which help to enhance the network of IT professionals at Georgia Tech."
This year’s cohort represents the Institute’s largest group of participants thus far and is the first to have completed the nine-month program on Georgia Tech’s campus – a contrast from previous cohorts, which traveled to various peer institutions during workshop days.
"Georgia Tech is a leading public research institution, so it is critical for us to develop digital leaders,” said Dr. Lew Lefton, associate vice president of Research Computing and assistant dean of IT for the College of Sciences. “We have an outstanding and dedicated IT community and, with the help of the MOR program, the leaders in that community are now primed to achieve even greater things. I was especially happy to see the broad-based and inclusive makeup of the most recent cohort."
For the recent program graduates, participation has presented more opportunities for cross-functional and cross-team collaboration. The cohort recently reintroduced leadership brown bag lunches among program alumni to facilitate important conversations and promote information sharing.
“One of the biggest takeaways for me – as someone who came up through the ranks of IT, but was not trained for leadership – was gaining the insights I needed to make a smoother transition into being a leader,” said Schantel Mitchell, service delivery manager in the Scheller College of Business and graduate in the most recent cohort. “Going through the program helped me to hone and strengthen critical thinking, decision making, and conflict management skills and helped me understand the difference between just being in charge of others and actually being a true leader. Now, I am able to not only look the part, but also act the part.”
2019-2020 GT Digital Leaders program graduates include:
- Mike Anderson, Civil & Environmental Engineering
- Dina Archer, OIT - Resource Management
- Christian Birk, OIT - AV Services
- Victor Bolet, OIT - Instructional Technologies
- Jeremy Bowden, GTRI-CIPHER
- Nan Deeprasert, OIT - A&I
- Malynda Dorsey, OIT - Marketing & Communications
- Justin Filoseta, College of Sciences
- Stephen Garrett, OIT - Digital Business
- Warren Goetzel, OIT - Digital Learning
- Troy Hilley, College of Sciences
- Ruben Lara, OIT - PACE
- Garth Milford, Library
- Thomas Miller, OIT - Networking
- Schantel Mitchell, Scheller College of Business
- Eric Mungai, Industrial & Systems Engineering
- Natalie Palmer, OIT - EIS
- Angelica Remolina, College of Engineering
- Jennifer Rhodes, OIT - PPMO
- Mark Robinson, OIT - EIS
- Vicki Rogers, OIT - Digital Business
- Larry Rowe, OIT - PPMO
- Mark Sanders, Office of Development
- Eric Sembrat, College of Engineering
- Jessica Shaffer, OIT - Networking
- Adam Smith, OIT - A&I
- Uwanna Smith, College of Computing
- Gabe Vannice, OIT - Digital Business
- Joe Zima, Ivan Allen College