A Day on the Road with the SIM Club

Last week’s field trip was an unequivocal success. After meeting briefly behind Weniger Hall to count heads, we took to the road as the sun rose (or at least seemed to rise) over another rainy Oregon day. Though perhaps marked by a swollen sense of competition on the part of certain passengers, the ride north went by in good humor and soon we stood at the steps of the Northwest Data Center Division of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), a company responsible for hosting, operating, and maintaining data centers of global organizations such as Nike and Goodyear Tires. While the tour was impressive and the servers themselves quite large and fascinating, I found myself in another world of lingo and systematics quite unfamiliar and sublime. Jeremy Gragg, on the other hand, seemed right at home and had plenty of intelligent questions to ask.

Next stop, just down the road was Nike. At Nike we went from the museum-like multi-story entryway to an immense presentation room where we got our heads rocked by some rockin’ sports action and were briefed on Nike’s round robin format. Not only did they feed us, but when it came to presentations the Nike folks really got down to brass tacks. A very pleasing afternoon, all told. Next we toured some of the grounds and workout facilities on the 125-acre campus. Some might agree that the scale of things at Nike was grand, perhaps even swollen.

We said our goodbyes at Nike, and a brief stint on Sunset Highway found us parking the swollen vans stories above the streets of good old Rose City. We had come to see a number of presentations on various IS topics given by Standard Insurance employees of diverse expertise and presentation ability.

For almost three hours, we all sat inside the same warm, warm little office and watched as IS was explained from every angle as it is applied and executed at The Standard. Sakthi Angappamudali (Data Architect at The Standard) greeted us, and Greg Bergs (Assistant Vice President of IT at The Standard) provided a welcome note. OSU alumni Alisa Conklin and Justin Hart, recalled their experiences of transitioning from an OSU student to an intern and then a full-time employee at The Standard. Bernie Shadder (Data Applications Manager) talked about the role of IT in Business Success at The Standard. Tom Perkins (Senior Project Manager) shared his wisdom with regard to project management and basic prerequisites for effectively managing large scale IT projects. Roger Speigle (Data Administration Manager) briefed us on the challenges in managing data. Brian Kronstad (Director, Quality Assurance) with his humor, effectively highlighted why he views Quality Assurance as the Lifeline of IT. Sundeep Thakkar (Business Process Architect), quoted results from Gartner Research Studies and provided his view of what skills students needed to be successful in the job market. Barb Lymann (Associate Business Partner, Human Resources) shared some of her experiences at Standard. Surely, no stone was left unturned.

My special thanks to hosts John Kinney and Rick Beadnell at Nike, Sakthi Angappamudali at The Standard, V.T. Raja (OSU SIM Club Faculty Advisor), Manoj Garg (Academic Liasion, Portland SIM Club), Rene Reitsma (MIS faculty member) and my fellow SIM club Officers (Stephen Andrada, Jeremy Gragg, Michael Hatheway and Jeff Schroeder) for their contributions in organizing the field trip events. It was a pleasure to interact with Byron Marshall, V.T. Raja, Rene Reitsma and Dave Sullivan (MIS@OSU faculty members) outside the classroom environment. As we drove home to lively discussion with our professors, I felt genuine candor and camaraderie. I couldn’t help but feel a bit swollen with the sense of accomplishment and indeed reward today’s trip had given me.

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