Why did you choose UNC Charlotte?
UNC Charlotte was the only school I applied to. I had a lot of familiarity with the university and always went to 49ers basketball games with my family when I was growing up. I felt a strong connection with the university and it was the only place that I wanted to go.
What kinds of opportunities did you have as a student?
UNC Charlotte provided me with social and leadership opportunities. Aside from playing a lot of intramural sports, I was an intramural sports official for Recreational Services. I also had the opportunity to be on the Executive Board for the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha.
What was your first job after graduation?
After graduation I worked as contractor for the Department of Defense. My job was to take system based applications and web enable them in secure cloud environments.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has prepared you for your career?
Professor Michael Smith in my Business Data Communications class really had an impact on me. He focused on making degrees worth their value and not just following the book. He understood the value he was creating in our degrees from this school by challenging us to be the best we could be. I was able to carry that forward into the working world knowing that all of our individual performances play into the collective impression of others who did not graduate from UNC Charlotte.
What is your current role?
I lead the organization’s revenue, profit and client satisfaction effort. I strive to form lasting relationships between Skookum and its clients and partners by exceeding their ever changing business technology needs. Working closely with business leaders and stakeholders, my team and I enable clients to compete more effectively, operate more efficiently and generate new revenue opportunities through digital products.
Why did you decide to found your own company, Skookum?
We had a strong desire to work alongside visionary clients in growing organizations in order to digitally solve their most pressing and complex business innovation challenges – the tough, roll-up-your sleeves stuff. Getting started wasn’t easy; but with fierce resolve, a strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit, and a quest for quality and innovation – Skookum was born.
What is it like being an entrepreneur?
If you want to be in charge of your own destiny, being an entrepreneur is your best option. It is both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. You’ll work with and meet amazing people along the way, have plenty of options/freedom, and incredible potential. At the same time, you’ll likely work longer hours than anyone you know (especially in the beginning), there are also lean times to deal with, and a heavy dose of stress from time to time. If it doesn’t go well, there is no one to blame but yourself. It is a very empowering experience because you are responsible for the success and/or failure of your business.
One of your interest areas is helping women in technology. How do you help?
Our company offers scholarships to women who are looking to change fields to technology. The scholarship covers tuition at Tech Talent South and also covers a new laptop. Though a gender gap has certainly exists in the technology field, we are committed to helping close that gap.
What kinds of organizations, both professional and charitable, are you involved with in Charlotte?
I am currently a board member of the Entrepreneurs Organization and the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board. In the past, I had the opportunity to be on the North Tryon Steering Committee and assist with the redevelopment of the Uptown area.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
Get out of your comfort zone. Be engaged and be active within the Belk College to expand your network. Business doesn’t happen in silos the way degrees do. The more you can grow your network across disciplines, the better it will serve you in your career and life long after you have left the Belk College.