Five Questions: Aibek Atanbekov

Graduation season is upon us, and we decided to ask TLI students how they're feeling about the program as things are finally winding down. They had a lot to say. First up is Aibek Atanbekov, student in our MOT class of '24, who was kind enough to answer five questions about the nearly-completed program.

1. What made you decide on TLI for your graduate program?
After several years of working as a Data Scientist, I realized that to truly make an impact and drive innovation, I needed to expand my skill set beyond technical expertise. I aspired to become a well-rounded leader who could not only understand the intricacies of technology but also effectively manage teams, navigate complex business landscapes, and drive strategic decision-making. TLI's unique program, which seamlessly blends technical knowledge with leadership development, stood out as the perfect fit for my goals. The opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty, engage with a diverse cohort of professionals, and apply my learnings to real-world challenges made MOT the clear choice for my graduate education.

2. What class/instructor has had the biggest impact on you, and why?
While almost every instructor at TLI brought a wealth of knowledge and unique perspectives to the classroom, there was one class that particularly resonated with me: "Managing Technological Innovation" taught by Matt [Redlon] and David [Nguyen]. Their passion for fostering creativity and their ability to create a safe space for exploration and experimentation truly inspired me. Through engaging teaching styles and thought-provoking assignments, they challenged us to think beyond the conventional and embrace the power of innovative thinking. Their class not only provided me with practical tools and frameworks for driving innovation but also instilled in me a newfound confidence in my ability to lead change and make a meaningful impact in my organization.

3. Tell us about a class / guest lecturer / TLI experience you still think about a lot.
One of the most memorable experiences during my time at MOT was the guest lecture by the CTO of Land O'Lakes, Teddy Bekele. His talk on the transformative power of technology in the agriculture industry left a lasting impression on me. Bekele's vision for leveraging AI, IoT, and data analytics to revolutionize farming practices and improve sustainability was truly inspiring. He shared fascinating case studies and insights into how Land O'Lakes was using technology to empower farmers, optimize resource utilization, and drive positive change in the food supply chain. His lecture not only expanded my understanding of the potential applications of technology but also sparked a deep interest in exploring how I could contribute to similar transformative initiatives in my industry.

4. What was most surprising to you about TLI's program?
When I first enrolled in the MOT program, I expected a strong emphasis on technical skills and industry-specific knowledge. However, what surprised me the most was the seamless integration of technology and leadership throughout the curriculum. MOT's approach to education recognizes that being a successful technology leader requires more than just technical prowess; it demands a holistic understanding of business strategy, communication, and people management. 

5. What are some of the meaningful connections you gained as part of the TLI experience?
One of the most valuable aspects of my MOT experience was the opportunity to connect with an incredibly diverse and accomplished cohort of professionals. Through group projects, class discussions, and networking events, I forged lasting relationships with individuals from various industries, including healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and consulting. These connections not only enriched my learning experience but also provided me with a network of trusted peers and mentors. The meaningful connections I gained at MOT have become an integral part of my professional network, providing ongoing support, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.