MOT Alumnus Lands Leadership Role, Credits Tech Foresight Skills to MOT
Twin Cities native Bradley Rossiter was always drawn to computers and technology. Today, the M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) class of 2011 alumnus is in a leadership role at a multinational IT corporation. Learn what made him pursue a graduate degree program and ultimately decide on MOT.
What is your undergraduate degree and what did you do prior to grad school?
I earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from St. Cloud State University and went on to work as a cybersecurity consultant for a Minneapolis-based company.
What made you pursue graduate school and how did you discover TLI?
I had been exploring graduate school options, including law school, but I wasn’t quite happy with that potential direction as it wasn’t wide enough to support my interests. I was looking to get a more worldly view of how technology is advancing the human condition while keeping an eye on the corresponding responsibilities that come from it.
I ended up learning about MOT through a customer of mine who had gone to one of the MOT information sessions. What I wanted out of a graduate program was a holistic and broader education to contrast with the technical things that I did on a daily basis as a cybersecurity consultant at the time, and MOT gave me that.
Most of our MOT students are also working full time. Can you describe your work experience as an MOT student?
At the end of my first year as an MOT student, I accepted a new role with Verizon as the mid-America security pre-sales architect to help design cybersecurity solutions for Fortune 500 companies. Over the years, I got the opportunity to work with high-profile customers and external agencies like the Secret Service during a number of critical attacks on domestic financial institutions.
I progressed through several roles at Verizon and ultimately ran the Business Innovation Group for the retail and travel industry verticals, during which time we focused on solving challenging business problems. In this role, my team and I combined innovation frameworks and methodologies as a fulcrum with emerging tech such as 5G, IoT, augmented reality, machine learning and humanizing digital experiences. It was essentially my MOT experience but as a job!
What did you get out of the MOT program?
Every day – in some way, shape or form – I use concepts and lessons derived from the four classes Lockwood Carlson taught throughout the MOT program (technology, strategy, innovation and foresight). If only for just a brief time, he was one of the most important mentors I’ve had in my life. I’ve been able to adapt a number of concepts into frameworks and methodologies that now aid me in helping organizations (e.g. drive-through of the future, cashier-less shopping carts, corporation innovation programs, data protection schemes).
What do you currently do and what are some of your goals?
After an eight-year tour at Verizon, I started a new role in September 2018 as the director of cyber innovation and business protection at Cognizant Technology Solutions, a multinational corporation that provides IT services. The practice works with Fortune 500 customers to tackle contemporary challenges in data privacy, data protection, cryptography, and cyber operational resilience using innovation models as a fulcrum for driving outcomes aligned with the business. Vertical industries have included major airlines, pharmaceuticals, healthcare service providers, large financials, media, retailers, and complex merger and acquisition scenarios.
Today, more than ever, everyone has a plan until they get the proverbial punch. Ultimately, I’ve found that you’re at your best when you work with great people, even if it diverges from some of the goals you may have set for yourself in another time. Whether as a senior leader or contributor, as long as I work with people who share my passion for humanizing technology and the digital experience, I’ll be happy.
Were you inspired by your classmates and instructors?
Lockwood Carlson (now retired) had real boardroom experiences that he shared with the cohort in each class. He changed our assertions in both subtle and direct ways so we could get outside of ourselves and the myopic nature of our own experiences. He brought powerful frameworks and methodologies that we could immediately apply or manipulate to help solve different problems. It helped set a much-needed fire to my previous toolbox so I could create a new one that I continue to work to this day.
Kirk Froggatt provided real insights on leadership and its connection to your emotional IQ. His industry experience was quite evident. He, too, was a rare talent; we couldn’t emulate him exactly, but he was always there to help formulate your own approach to leadership and navigating your career. In the end, there was no shortage of talent among TLI faculty.
One of the final courses in the MOT program is the capstone, whereby students collaborate with a corporate mentor and faculty advisor for a work-based project beneficial to business. What was your capstone topic and how do you believe it benefited your employer at the time?
My capstone addressed how to harness complexity in a global (fortune 15) company to create new customers. We utilized principles such as switching pre-sales engineering teams from focusing entirely on one discipline (i.e. IoT, security, compute, network, customer experience, etc.) to cross-disciplined team construction.
I was lucky enough to create the first of such teams and was subsequently promoted into a newly formed Business Innovation group where we were able to focus entirely on using innovation as a fulcrum to solve problems.
Did you enjoy the cohort experience and find it beneficial?
Yes, it’s essential to have teams of unrelated fields together to help draw out the best in each other while also learning new viewpoints and methods. In fact, just this month several of us attended the wedding of fellow 2011 graduate Alex Shrom (congrats!). We even pulled in a few other graduates on FaceTime who were out of state!
To what kind of professionals would you recommend MOT and why? What advice do you have for potential/incoming students?
Jumping back to my old customer who referred me to the program – as an accountant, he ultimately decided an MBA would suit him better, but he thought of me as the right type of candidate. He said, “MOT is hardcore, and it sort of intimidated me, but it would be great for you, Brad.”
Having been through the program, I believe MOT is for those aspiring leaders who want to challenge themselves to be better. MOT graduates will write, communicate, educate, understand, innovate and take charge of their careers significantly better than a more focused program in business or technology. I specifically chose MOT for that reason, and it has certainly paid off for me.
In addition, we were told that the classroom was a safe place to try new ideas, methodologies and new ways of thinking. While I believe this is true, I also believe MOT candidates should be well aware that the program is specifically designed to take you out of your comfort zone and build new skill sets you might not otherwise be exercising. You will read more than you've ever read before, collaborate more, balance and prioritize your life around the most important things, you'll travel the world, you'll be held to a high standard and, most of all, you will enjoy every bit of it. I did!
Where do you see the industry going in the future? What skills do you think will be important and how has your degree helped?
The future is at the intersection of learning and your particular passion (medical devices, security, cloud, materials, “sticky stuff”, operations, etc.). Your ability to adapt is becoming more critical every day. When opportunities present themselves, you should be prepared. This is fundamental to what MOT is, as MOT prepares individuals who understand that their next job likely does not even exist.