July 1, 2012

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Technology Industry Outlook

Utah Business Staff

July 1, 2012

I don’t care if my employee took biology or whatever else. It’s utter worthlessness. If I want to learn physics, I can go online right now and watch the world’s greatest professor of physics at Harvard University, and I can teach myself physics. I shouldn’t be required to take this class that does nothing for my career prospects.

So my advice to the governor is don’t create a commission of industry insiders and say, “How are we going to fix education; how are we going to fund it?” You need to get some outsiders and say, “Let’s experiment, let’s innovate, let’s actually do something,” because if you don’t somebody else will. And it might be Kansas, it might be Colorado or it might be somebody else, and they’re going to figure it out. Let’s be the state that says we’re going to do something different.

Let’s shift gears and give advice to the 600,000 students that are in public education right now and those in our colleges, universities and applied technology colleges. Given what you know about opportunities and why STEM matters, what advice would you give the students of this state?

K. JONES: Be sure to take on great articulation and communication skills.

R. HANKS: Don’t run from the hard classes. Run towards the hardest teachers.

GRAY: Figure out what you want to do early and focus your education on that.

S. JONES: I think it’s about STEM plus. STEM is always going to be a great foundation for anybody. I have an engineering degree, I have a law degree, and now I’m in business. It’s about STEM plus because you’ve got to be able to cross so many areas to really be an effective professional at the end of day. So it’s not just that micro focus on STEM—it’s understanding the larger picture. It’s to be able to have that be a great stepping stone and a great foundation for a successful career.

SIMMONS: We hire a lot of technology and salespeople and we want that combination, so STEM is a critical foundation.

We have to tell students to trust that their hard work and commitment will pay off because sometimes they can’t see those possibilities. So we have to present those role models and those opportunities so they can bridge the gap. Because when you’re a sophomore in high school, you can’t always see what those possibilities are.

KARANJIKAR: We have enough lawyers and scientists. We need engineers.

As an entrepreneur, what personal price have you paid to ensure your company’s success?

J. HANKS: I almost lost my dad’s farm in my first startup to try to keep it going. You very well might risk everything, and most of the time you don’t understand that you are about to risk everything because you do not have the right frame of mind—this is your baby you’ve slaved on. So the thing that I would say is have some smart people around you that can sit you down and say, “Jeremy, you cannot risk your dad’s farm on this company” as you’re about to leave to go sign the paperwork.

K. JONES: Don’t risk your marriage either. As an entrepreneur spending many years with 4:30 in the morning starts, you begin to lose sight of what your priorities in life are. Stay close to them.

As a proven leader, what one leadership principle has been most valuable in building your company and why?

SULLIVAN: It’s trite, but it’s hire great leaders and then let them lead. So it’s a mix of really getting out of the way and letting people make mistakes. Failure is probably not embraced enough, I think, as a positive force for change as it might be in our culture.

SIMMONS: Passion and work ethic are critical to ensure a good growth trajectory.

WEBB: For our company it’s been a constant, consistent focus on our patients and their needs and a willingness to innovate. It’s really a willingness to risk. With that, focus on our patients is a driving motivation.

LEVINZON: Integrity and reputation. That’s the top currency of the company.

WILKINSON: Once you put something in motion, don’t be afraid to let go and let it carry itself. Step back and let it grow by itself.

S. JONES: Our company has grown so fast that it really had the ability to lose some of the heart that originally existed when it was smaller. One of the things our leaders have done extremely well is articulate our purpose, mission and cause so that as we grow and new people are coming in, they really understand the core purpose of why we exist as an organization. And that’s really hard, but good leaders can do that. And my company executives have done that very, very well.

K. JONES: Social media has changed a lot of things for us. For our clients, especially consumer-focused clients, it’s broadened the horizon tremendously. We do a lot of work on the Norton antivirus campaign, and there’s a lot of possibility there to reach consumers. But it’s had other consequences that are very pleasant. When it comes to hiring people, it’s been a terrific avenue, even if it’s colleagues, associates of colleagues, associates of employee.

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