An IS degree means more than going to class

There’s a quote that says, “Success comes before you reach your goal, for it is as simple as taking a step in the right direction.” While the 2016–2017 academic year has just begun, it is off to a successful start. Read on to learn more about the accomplishments we’ve had so far, as well as the important steps you can take over the next few months toward your educational goals.

Career mixer welcomes cutting-edge waste company

Students stood shoulder to shoulder with employers at the W. P. Carey Information Systems & Business Analytics Career Fair on Monday, September 26. One of our new Executive Council members — Republic Services — employs alum Brad Kloch (BS Management ’95, MSIM ’09) as its senior director, digital development.

“We’re looking for smart, passionate, motivated employees,” he said. “You can teach technical skills, but you can’t teach strong communication and collaboration skills.”

The recycling and waste disposal business offers more than trash pickup for homes, communities, and businesses. Kloch said Republic Services is an evolving culture.

“IT used to hold a traditional ‘keep the lights’ on, order-taker role at our company,” he said. “Today, IT has a seat at the table, collaborating with executives to digitally transform Republic Services.” This includes implementing ecommerce on the company’s website (, equipping drivers with tablets to help them find the fastest and safest routes, and investing in Internet of Things technologies.

Student shares personal and professional benefits of volunteering

It’s no surprise that the Secret Code of Business workshops are successful from the stories on the KnowIT blog:

The all-day workshop inspires and creates interest for the participating junior high schoolers in higher education STEM degrees, and CIS or BDA careers. It also greatly benefits student volunteers for the workshop. Two-time Secret Code of Business volunteer Madeline Verette can attest. “It got me back on the campus during the summer to be productive with my time,” the BDA major said. “You get to know peers, staff, and faculty. And each time I’ve participated, I’ve learned a new skill.”

While Verette’s strengths are in STEM, the Arizona native who spent most of her childhood in Minnesota was unsure of how to get involved in Tempe’s IT world. Then she joined the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC), which hosts the Secret Code of Business workshops. “The workshop allowed me to show kids real-world uses for technology besides social media, like coding,” she said.

Verette hopes to motivate more kids into lifelong tech lovers and hone her STEM talents in the October workshop. You can, too. RSVP to be a volunteer at the Secret Code of Business workshop next month.

Register for other DISC events through the end of the year to meet your potential employer and find out what it would be like to work for them. “They cover who they are, what they do, what it is like in the industry, how CIS or BDA is used at their company, and sometimes they offer potential internships or jobs, along with additional professional development advice to our members,” said DISC President Vi Tranle. “DISC also helps with developing students to become more valuable future employees for potential employers. Anyone can go to school and get the grade. But getting involved with a student organization shows future employers that you are a potential asset that brings something more to the table than just someone that goes to work to clock in and clock out.”

There’s always room for dessert with faculty

Perhaps there’s no time for volunteer work or other extracurricular activities. Senior CIS major Jeremy Knorr who has attended the Dessert with Faculty event the past few years believes there’s always room for it. “I was first interested because it was an opportunity to meet more of the faculty members that I knew I would have as professors,” he said. “At the event my sophomore year, I had the chance to talk with the department chair, who gave me a lot of insight into where he thought the industry was moving and some of the department goals. This helped affirm my major.

“In other years, I have had the opportunity to talk with professors in a more casual setting, gain exposure to industry professionals who help advise the board, and meet other passionate students,” Knorr said. “This is an event I always look forward to because I get something more out of it than the previous year, and I get to maintain the relationships I have built with members of the IS team.”

Leave room for dessert on October 26. Dessert with Faculty will be in the Mojave room of the Memorial Union from 1-3 p.m.

Two print publications covered IS research

Have you used Uber, purchased used or second-hand goods online, or contributed to online fundraising? According to a national Pew Research Center survey of 4,787 American adults, 72 percent of respondents have used at least one of 11 different shared and on-demand services. Another study by Intuit found the on-demand economy will continue to grow, possibly representing 43 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Bringing the economic transition to a local level, the Phoenix Business Journal reached out to Assistant Professor Kevin Hong who started examining the work evolution in 2009, which started with the freelance economy and moved into the sharing (gig) economy.

Hong explained to the Phoenix Business Journal in its September 2, 2016, news piece, “It all came about after the 2008 financial crisis as the tipping point for many businesses,” he said. “This is an opportunity for people who don’t have a good job or want flexibility. It’s limited to certain types of people who are out of their job or they want to make extra money. The customers have to be really busy, lazy, or have a lot of money to do it.” Associate Professor Zhongju Zhang and first year doctoral student Ziru Li are other members of the gig research-in-progress team.

Facebook dropped $19 billion for WhatsApp. Microsoft acquired Skype. Time Warner was acquired by AOL. Those are only a few of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time. The startup world is enormous, which makes discovering companies with the right products or technology difficult for industry giants and family businesses alike. Thanks to big data analytics and text-mining techniques, matchmaking for industry giants and smaller firms is easier. Assistant Professor Zhan (Michael) Shi and his co-researchers Andrew Whinston, Hugh Cullen Chair Professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and Gene Moo Lee, The University of Texas at Arlington assistant professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, are publishing their research in the leading journal “Management Information Systems Quarterly.” Read more about their data-driven, analytics-based system in Scientific Computing.

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