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Business School, University of Colorado Denver

Leaders with an Edge | Center for Information Technology Innovation

The Information Systems Association and the Information Systems Discipline hosts an annual panel event, "Become a Business Leaders with an Edge," in the fall of each year offering students and community members the opportunity to:

  • Learn what executives from some of Denver’s most successful companies are looking for and what they see as the future of business and information technology
  • Hear how information technology is an integral part of every aspect of business and what you can do to prepare yourself for your future
  • Ask questions of the CIO’s panel

       Event cosponsored by the student Information Systems Association (ISA)


This year's event 2013

Information Technology Job Market Remains Robust, Panel Says

A panel discusses information systems technology at CU Denver Business Executive Panel Event 

Executives explain what skills employers are looking for, how to land dream job

Hundreds of thousands of information technology and computer-related jobs are currently unfilled in the United States due to a shortage of qualified applicants. The sector’s long-term employment outlook remains robust.

Those were two of many promising messages that information systems and other business students heard at the 8th Annual Business Executive Panel. About 300 Business School students attended the event, featuring eight information technology executives, at St. Cajetan’s on Tuesday evening.

Even more good news was supplied by Jahangir Karimi, PhD, professor and director of the Business School’s Information System’s program. He told the audience thatInformation Systems now offers a dual degree design which allows undergraduate students to take some graduate-level courses and earn both an BS and MSIS in just five years. He noted that the IS program is the only program in the Business School that offers a doctoral program in computer science and information systems. “So as you listen to our panelists tonight, think about these programs,” Karimi said. “It may be something for you to look forward to.”

The panel featured moderator Ted Hellmuth, division director of the Denver office of Robert Half Technology and 2009 MBA graduate from CU Denver’s Business School; Gail Coury, vice president of risk management, Oracle; Alan Cullop, chief technology officer, DaVita; Mark Endry, senior vice president and chief information officer, Arcadis-United States; Randy Guthrie, Microsoft; Tim Rod, president of Rod Consulting Group, Inc.; Randy Weldon, director of supply chain management in the IT department of Johns Manville; and Daniel Zimmerman, vice president of technology, Nordstrom.

Dean Sueann Ambron thanked the panelists for participating in the executive panel and encouraged students to look into the dual degree program. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for students in this particular field,” she said.

Before the panel began, co-presidents of the CU Denver chapter of the Information Systems Association — Michael Carlisle and Riya Deotale — encouraged students to join the organization, which sponsored the event.

Hellmuth started the panel discussion off by contrasting the national unemployment rate — 7.3 percent — to the current unemployment rates for web developers and network/computer system administrators — just 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

“As you can see, having a background in technology, having certain skills and taking relevant courses will obviously prepare you for your job search,” Hellmuth said. “Having a little bit more technology background is only going to increase your chances of getting a new opportunity.”

Guthrie, technical evangelist for Microsoft, explained that both the current and future jobs outlook for technical positions is very bright. The sector is expected to add 30 percent to 40 percent more jobs over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He said entry level technology jobs often offer salaries in the $60,000 to $70,000 range, depending on the market.

“The good news is a technology is a technology career is not only pretty interesting and dynamic in the short term, but it has a lot of future potential as well,” Guthrie said.

The panelists provided a wide range of information, including what skills employers are looking for, how to position yourself as a top candidate, and job-location trends in technology. They pointed out that current employment statistics show that the trend of jobs being shipped overseas does not apply to the technology sector.

The jobs are available in this country. “If you have a passion for health care, or higher ed, or another area, if you’ve got a business background and strong IT skills you can take that and apply it to many different types of industries,” Coury, of Oracle, said.

Cullop, with DaVita, added, “It’s smart to take a look at companies and industries that you want to be in and then get your LinkedIn account going or find ways to meet people who work for that company.”

All of the executives emphasized the importance of taking the initiative in landing internships, joining professional organizations, networking, and making an impact in technology areas both inside and outside the classroom in order to set yourself apart in the job search.

One student asked if a college degree is necessary to achieve success in information systems and technology. The panelists unanimously said it is. “If you don’t have organizational skills, if you can’t sell your ideas to other people with negotiation, communication and presentation skills, you’re not going to have a sustainable job in the future,” Rod, of Rod Consulting Group, said. “It’s not strictly about just having a technical skill. So, is it absolutely mandatory to have a college degree? No. Does it lay a foundation for ultimate success in the future? Yes.”

(Photo: Panelists in the Business Executive Panel are, from left, Ted Hellmuth, Daniel Zimmerman, Tim Rod, Gail Coury, Alan Cullop, Mark Endry and Randy Weldon. Not pictured is eighth panelist Randy Guthrie.)

Past event highlights

The 2012 highlights

Nearly 250 Attend CU Denver Information Systems Executive Panel Event

Almost 250 people attended the seventh annual “Become a Business Leader with an Edge” executive panel event that was held at St. Cajetan’s, on Auraria campus. The event, which was presented by the Information Systems Program at the University of Colorado Denver Business School and the Information Systems Association, brought together business leaders from some of Colorado’s premier companies to discuss the future of business and technology. The panel discussed a wide range of business information technology topics, and fielded questions from the audience.

Panelists for this year’s event included:

  • Ted Hellmuth, Division Director, Robert Half Technology
  • Frank Daidone. CIO, Chipotle
  • Mark Endry, SVP & CIO, Arcadis-US
  • Randy Guthrie, Technical Evangelist, Microsoft
  • Dana Moore, SVP & CIO, Centura Health
  • Wendy Pobirk, VP Strategic Planning, Oracle
  • Chuck Price, President & CEO, Ajubeo
  • Jonathan Trull, CIS Officer, State of Colorado
  • Randy Weldon, Director of SCM, Johns Manville

Read the whole story and see the slideshow

The 2011 highlights

Students and faculty came together at St. Cajetan’s on the Auraria Campus on Tuesday, October 11, for the 6th Annual “Become a Business Leader with an Edge” CIO panel discussion. Attendees were welcomed by Dean Ambron, who set the tone for the evening, highlighting that students with IT skills and education “are in great demand.”

The general message from all of the speakers and panel members was simple – that the future of Information Technology is bright. Today, there are more IT jobs available than there are qualified candidates. It is important for students to have the right skills, and also be able to implement those skills within teams. With the massive environment of offshoring, it is now more important than ever for students with technology skills to stay competitive through these “soft” skills. It is also more important than ever for our country to invest in students and engage them in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), beginning in elementary school.  It is critical to create a fire in students to change imbedded perceptions that these are not nerdy but rather can be sexy.

The panel included executives from a variety of industries.


  • Susan Bailey – Business Career Connections, Moderator
  • David Bessen – Media Consultant
  • Ron Huston – Retired State Government
  • Kristi Martin – Grant Thornton
  • Randy Weldon – Johns Manville
  • Randy Guthrie – Microsoft
  • Charles Corfield  - President and CEO of nvoq
Read More

2010 "Edge" Event Highlights

This year's fifth-annual "Become a Business Leader with an Edge" event on October 25 broke all previous attendance records, topping out at 303 students. Representing diverse interests and backgrounds, the students arrived at St. Cajetan's on the Auraria Campus with a single purpose--to hear from area executives about the emerging possibilities in business and information technology (IT). The panel featured CITI and IT executives from top private and public organizations in the Denver region:

  • Gail Coury: Vice President, Risk Management, Global IT, Oracle
  • James Gaulke: PDC Energy
  • Ron Huston: State Government
  • Audrey Kiszla: Vice President of Project Delivery, Oppenheimer
  • Ken Migaki: CIO, Group Voyager Inc.
  • Molly Rauzi: City and County of Denver
  • Scott Threlkeld: Information Systems Manager, Delta Dental of Colorado

Throughout the evening, the distinguished panel addressed questions submitted in advance by students and moderated by Larry Nelson, co-founder of w3w3® Media Networks. Discussions ranged across a spectrum of IT developments, including the "flattening" of world markets, the role of cloud computing and the tightening of security provisions. 

2009 highlights

 "Become a Business Leader With an Edge"

In October 2009, the Center for Information Technology Innovation (CITI) and CU Denver Business School's Information Systems Association (ISA) hosted the fourth-annual CIO executive panel event, "Become a Business Leader With an Edge." The annual event provides an opportunity for students to learn about what executives are looking for and what they see as the future of business and information technology. This year's CIO Panel had the largest attendance so far, attracting 215 attendees.

David Guild, CITI Executive Director, opened the event by sharing information about the Business School's upcoming move to their new location at 1475 Lawrence Street. Guild then introduced the following panel members:

  • Kevin Capp, chief technology officer for the City of Castle Rock
  • Randy Guthrie, academic developer evangelist from Microsoft
  • Ron Huston, chief enterprise architect from the State of Colorado
  • David Laube, executive in residence for the Business School at CU Denver
  • Mary Anne Leach, vice president and CIO of the Children's Hospital
  • Matthew Taylor, vice president of managed services and IT/IS Operations

Randy Guthrie presented "IT Myth Busters." His presentation covered important technology trends and clarified misconceptions about the IT industry and job market. Dave Laube spoke about CITI and community involvements in the recent curriculum changes for undergraduate and graduate Information Systems Programs at the Business School.

Each panel member spoke about the importance of IT in their respective industries. The panelists agreed that by second quarter 2010, the IT job market will be booming due to three primary factors: the strengthening of the economy following recession, retiring of previous generations of IT workers, and new and growing applications of IT in areas such as health care and state government. 

The student response to the event was very positive. They asked questions of the panelists about how to be successful in a job search and how to break into the industry with no IT experience. Many students felt they gained valuable insight and learned about the industry from a very personal perspective. Juan Sanchez, a student mentor from the Denver Transfer Initiative, said, "This was one of the best events I've ever been to on campus. I was very impressed." Overall, students found the discussion very informative and are looking forward to more ISA events and another successful panel event next year.

by Susan Torres

2008 Highlights


Top-level executives speak to students about their experience and what they need to compete

For a third consecutive year, the Center for Information Technology Innovation (CITI) and CU Denver’s Information Systems Association presented Become a Leader with an Edge. This year’s event had nearly 200 students and faculty attend the event, unlike like year’s event which competed with the Rockies’ World Series game for attendance.

Featured was a panel of top-level executives from CITI companies to talk to and answer questions from students. The CIOs stressed the importance of in-depth knowledge of Information Systems as a prerequisite for getting an edge in the business world.

Randy Guthrie of Microsoft presented a “Myth Buster” presentation busting many myths about IT jobs. Nicolas Saben, a CU Denver student  also working in a Information System job, stressed how important it is to know as much as possible about Information Systems and how rewarding his career is.

CITI members who participated on the panel included: Kim Heldman - Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Mary Anne Leach - Children Hospital, John Shellenberger - Johns Manville, Matthew Taylor - Via West, and Leroy Williams - Ball Corporation, who acted as facilitator. 

Students asked many questions, learning about how Information Systems impacts every aspect of business and the importance of understanding computer technology no matter what field they specialize in.

Response to the event was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Students felt the panel was very informative, and they were happy to have such insight and perspective available to them. Many noted that their interest in adding an information systems component to their experience increased as a result of this seminar. Many have also joined the Information Systems Association to see firsthand how businesses use Information Systems.
The Business School offers many combined tracks for students who see the benefit of having information systems integrated with their other skills. At the undergraduate and graduate level students are able to combine combine Information Systems with Marketing, Management, Finance and Accounting in either their track (undergraduate) or their MBA or MS degrees.

 by Nick Sabin


2007 Event Highlights

For the second consecutive year, CITI in conjunction with CU Denver's Information Systems Association presented Become a Business Leader with the Edge. Though the Rockies were having their first home game in the World Series, it was extremely well attended by students.

Featured was a panel of top level executives from CITI companies to talk to and answer questions from students. The CIOs and other executives stressed the importance of in depth knowledge of Information Systems as a prerequisite for getting an edge in the business world.

Students had their questions answered at the event and some uploaded those questions to YouTube and were shown on the big screen during the question and answer period. Students learned more about how Information Systems impacts every aspect of business and should understand computer technology no matter what field specialize in.

CITI members who participated included:

  • Ball Corporation
  • City of Denver
  • DCP Midstream
  • Denver Health
  • Fiserv Investment Support Services
  • Gates Corporation
  • Great West Life
  • Hunter Douglas
  • Information Handling Services
  • Manville
  • Molson Coors
  • Oppenheier Funds
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • State of Colorado, Dept. of Human Services
  • Via
  • west

The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Students felt the panel was very informative and they were happy to have such insight and perspective available to them. Many since have noted their interest in adding a information systems component to their experience.
The Business School offers many combined tracks for students who see the benefit of having information systems integrated with their other skills. At the undergraduate and graduate level student are able to combine combine Information Systems with Marketing, Management, Finance and Accounting in either their track (undergraduate) or their MBA or MS degrees.

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