MOT 2019 Graduate is Driven to Innovate Accessibility Access Through Technology
As technology continues to advance, one of the areas that look to benefit the most is that of human services — particularly people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) have great potential for improving the quality of life and independence among this population. One person looking to make a difference is Timothy (Tim) Janssen, who just earned his M.S. in Management of Technology degree in May 2019. We sat down to ask him about his experience in MOT and how he hopes to use what he learned in the program to bring innovation to his industry.
Where did you grow up?
I'm originally from St. Cloud, Minn. but currently reside in Minneapolis.
What was your undergrad school/degree? What fields have you been working in?
My undergraduate degree is in psychology, with a minor in English, from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. I have been working in the human service field of supporting individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work at Sengistix, which provides remote support technologies to promote the independence of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. I serve as the operations director and oversee all aspects of the organization's operations, including team management, customer service and financial performance.
What led you to TLI? How did you discover us, why was this important to you?
I was searching for MBA programs and came across TLI in my search. The combination of business courses coupled with an emphasis in technology stood out from traditional MBA programs.
What did you feel you were getting out of the program? Has it helped advance your skills, career, etc. so far? What do you anticipate will be the result by the time you graduate?
Throughout MOT, I was honing my business acumen, especially in communicating business decisions, verbally and orally, to high-level management personnel within my organization. Additionally, I have gained a higher level of skill to manage a technology-based team.
Are you inspired by classmates or professors? How so?
Yes! The professors provide high caliber instruction and materials, but it's really the collaboration with classmates that stimulates new ideas. The discussion and debate amongst the class have challenged me to think outside of my comfort zone on a regular basis.
What about the MOT program surprised you?
Initially, I thought the program to have more of an engineering focus, as TLI falls within the College of Science and Engineering. As a student without an engineering background, this was intimidating. I have been pleasantly surprised that engineering is not a core focus of the program; rather, MOT takes a holistic approach towards leadership, and there are is a wide range of talent amongst my peers.
If applicable, can you talk about your capstone topic and experience?
My capstone, although now completed, is a work in progress with an entrepreneurial focus on developing a new technology to be applied within my field of supporting individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. I have been encouraged by the faculty to pursue this passion project, even if my ultimate recommendation does not align with my thesis.
Are there mentors/faculty or colleagues/peers from TLI that helped you?
The program chair, Dr. Tariq Samad, has been integral in guiding my choice of this program as well as supporting my capstone project. Within the program, we are assigned to a small (3-5 person) study group to work closely with throughout the program. My group members have been incredible in stimulating growth and promoting collaboration. I have been encouraged that high caliber projects can be delivered, even if there are differing views along the way.
What are some of your short-term and long-term goals?
My short-term goal is to increase operational efficiencies within my organization while introducing new products to keep the company relevant and competitive. In the long-term, I aspire to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors to further advance the field of disability services.
Where do you think your industry is headed? What skills do you think will be important and how has your program helped?
My industry is at an inflection point due to a shortage of qualified staff to provide services. This is largely impacted by low wages due to a direct tie with government funds for service delivery. As a technology company within this field, there is a need to balance a technology portfolio in the face of rapid development while meeting people where they are — which is often getting comfortable with a new type of service outside of human-to-human service delivery.
Would you recommend this program to others? To what kind of professionals and why?
Yes, I would recommend this program to others considering an MBA and people who are currently in a technology-based field or are pursuing a technology-based career with leadership aspirations.
What message do you want to send to potential students and the next generation of leaders (importance of education, the future of the industry, personal experience, etc.)?
In a competitive landscape, education and experience are vital to lead teams and shape whatever industry you are in. Explore all options available and never stop networking!
Anything else you want to share or feel is important for people to know?
An engineering background is not required to find success in the TLI program. There is a breadth of different experience amongst students that will stretch your thinking.