CU Denver’s Information Systems Department held their annual Business Leaders with an Edge Webinar on Tuesday, October 12. Hosted by Information System department chair, Dawn Gregg and mediated by Cynthia Wright, cybersecurity expert and veteran, this was the first time the event has been hosted virtually.

The event featured five top C-Level executives from the Denver Metro area including:

Mike Feliton, Marina Johnson, Joshua Pinkert, Sujan Turlapaty, and Christian Winward.

This panel of experts had an important conversation about the future of the tech world, what they look for when hiring, and how the skills we already have can be applied to any facet of modern technology.

The Evolution of Technology

Mike Felition, CIO of Crocs, is revolutionizing the way shoes are made. With plans to launch AI produced shoes and a focus on driving innovation through digital mediums, Mike spoke candidly about his passion for tech and the diversity he believes it offers to our world.

“ Over the past five to 6 years, technology is starting to get to the point where the promise of the interface is catching up with the expectations,” said Mike.

 IT is a major department that is vital to the success and efficiency of a company and current demands are quite a bit different than what they were ten years ago. Students should feel empowered by growing up in the digital age and what they can bring to an IT department.

The integration of technology with the fundamentals of business was a topic of interest among the panelists, as well as the audience. First Bank CIO, Christian Winward has worked his way through all levels of the Finance and Technology world. As CIO, his focus has shifted to hiring people who can bring unique technological skills to his company.

“We are seeing more and more hiring of people who have data skills. I want to take those data scientists and land them closer to the more traditional business leaders.” said Christian.

Finding that perfect overlap of the two will diversify your skillset and make you a desirable asset to any company.

How Work From Home has Raised Security Concerns

Tech companies possessed the tactical skills necessary to implement working from home when the pandemic hit.  IT departments at any company were familiar with setting people up for success using adaptable technology. The real problem has been the almost “500% increase in phishing schemes” and ransomware frequency.

“With a reported 60% of employees preferring flexibility with working from home, IT departments now have to consider how people’s home offices are a part of the network companies have to protect,” said Sujan Tulapaty, VP at Optiv.

Josh Pinkert, CIO at Ovintiv touched on security concerns that we all participate in on a daily basis.

“Hackers know that people reuse usernames and passwords, so when they get into one account, they will try those same credentials on banking sites,” said Josh. “It’s only a matter of time before someone finds a loophole, so multi factor authentication will continue to be necessary.”

As the technology we use on a daily basis continues to improve at exponential rates, the more opportunity there is for security concerns. Cybersecurity is a hot area for prospective employees right now, especially ones who are data driven, logical thinkers and enjoy problem solving.

Crypto Currency

Globally, people have been spending more time at home and in front of a screen. Those that saw the GameStop Corporation shares skyrocket earlier this year helped contribute to the crypto currency surge we are seeing now.

 “People are participating in a market that they do not fully understand,” said Josh Pinkert, CIO. Traditionally, most financial markets are highly regulated, but Crypto Currency is so new that there is no structure.

Blockchain is the technology behind Crypto, but all the panelists agreed that it has potential far beyond crypto. Blockchain contracts are being used in countries where corruption is more common. These contracts keep track of land registry and make sure that people’s lands, which are often their livelihoods, are not bought out from under them.

“I am always looking for interesting applications of tech,” said Cynthia Wright. “Blockchain technology is being used in developing nations to help cut down on corruption.”

Don’t be Afraid to Apply

Technology is not a facilitator, it is the foundation of the business. IT departments need more versatility– people who can adapt to different situations and quickly react to ever changing circumstances.

Panelists emphasized that applicants should never be afraid to apply to a job they may feel under-qualified for. It is rare to meet every single requirement on the job posting. A candidate with the perfect set of skills for a particular job, simply does not exist.

“Deep, technical focus is not so appealing to many departments these days,” said Sujan Turlapaty, Senior Vice President at Optiv.

The most meaningful experiences often come from throwing yourself into the unknown; stretching your mind and learning about something that makes you uncomfortable.

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