Hoeft T&M Alumni Q&A
HOEFT TECHNOLOGY & MANAGEMENT
B.S. ’15, Supply Chain Management, Information Systems & Information Technology
Hoeft T&M Class XIX
President of the T&M Alumni Association
Manager Customer and Digital Strategy at PwC
Q: How did your minor from Hoeft T&M prepare you for your professional roles, including your current one at PwC?
A: I started in technology strategy, and while it was more of an IT or management information systems (MIS) focus, a lot of the principles I had learned in T&M applied. That experience quickly helped me play that middle-man role and break down complex systems; to figure out how things work. Now that I’ve moved away from tech strategy and work more with marketers, it has been a differentiating skill for me.
A big part of PwC’s approach is our business experience technology (BXT) framework. It’s a really significant initiative that’s now bleeding into other practices. I think my education directly mirrored BXT before I knew what it was. I learned about technology, about how complex systems work, why user experience is important;and I definitely learned about business, being a Gies grad.
Q: Did any mentors, or anyone connected with the program, influence your career decisions? What did you learn from them?
A: From Brian Schmidt, the former TMAA president, to Chris Baker, the former product manager of Google Pixel phones, to another alum,who recently sold his company, and more. I’ve been able to meet a lot of interesting people, share countless lighter-touch stories, and be inspired by different T&M alumni.
Q: How, or why, is this program still important to engineering students entering a global economy?
A: From the business side, the one liner I always like to say is, ‘It’s no longer a time that you can afford not to be technically fluent. You can decide to be an accountant, or to major in finance, but you are going to significantly inhibit your career and create a glass ceiling for yourself if you can’t speak tech. It’s just a must at this point.
On the engineering side, I think, in a similar way, that the world is changing so fast that whole degree programs are becoming irrelevant. To stay relevant, you have to learn how to work with concepts that are foreign to you. For engineers, T&M affords that opportunity to stretch their perspective early on as they’re entering their careers in a unique way.
Q: How, or why, is this program still important to engineering and business students entering a global economy?
A: I think the T&M program is still worth investing in; it’s why I invest in it. It’s a differentiator for the University of Illinois in many ways. I would have majored in T&M if I could have. Technology is now not just enabling business needs but also stretching our preconceptions on what is possible or “normal.” The need to continue to bridge the gap between technology and the people / businesses it serves will only grow as technology continues to evolve and spread more to emerging markets.
I’m eager to see what the program will continue to do for the university, how it will evolve, and what impact alumni will continue to have. All of this will enable us to tell T&M’s story more easily as time goes on.