Scott McCollum, CIO, Sinclair College
1. What was your first job? / Did you always want to work in IT?
My first job was working a tree trimming/lawn service that was owned by my uncle. I worked for him all through high school. After high school I worked in fast food, at a department store, and had several jobs where I drove a delivery truck and worked in a warehouse. I had no clue what I wanted to do as a career, but I knew it wasn’t any of those jobs. I started taking classes at Sinclair in the evening, just going part-time until I was laid off and decided I was close enough to get a degree if I went full-time for a year. I changed my major a few times while I was going part-time and ended up taking a programming class that I liked and changed my major to Electronic Data Processing.
2. Tell us about your career path.
I got my associates degree in Electronic Data Processing from Sinclair in 1983; a second associates in Business Administration in 1984 and got hired by NCR as a COBOL programmer that year. While I was at NCR I enrolled part-time at UD and graduated in 1988 from the MIS program. Right after graduating from UD I was hired into my first job at Sinclair as Manager of User Support Services. Those early years at Sinclair in the late 80’s/early 90’s saw lots of change in technology and I had the great fortune to be involved in that change. I moved into the role of Manager of Systems Management and later to Director of Information Technology Services. During the time that I was Director of Information Technology Services, I was able to pursue my MBA, which I always wanted to do but put it off until 20 years after completing my BS. After completing my MBA in 2010 I was named Chief Technology Officer, and in 2012, the previous CIO retired from the college and I was asked to fill that role. I have loved working at Sinclair. It has been a great opportunity to be involved. On June 20, 2018 I celebrated my 30th anniversary at Sinclair.
3. What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organization in the coming year?
As you can imagine, the top priority for the college is the success of our students. A large number of the development projects that we take on are in support of this effort. In addition, the college has a major construction project in the works that will completely revamp the experience that incoming students have in being welcomed to Sinclair and set on the path to success. There are many IT-related components of this project as an entire building and all of the offices that new students interface with are being redesigned and the related process flows are re-engineered.
Beyond these initiatives that are unique to Sinclair, we are also dealing with many of the same business-technology factors that are causing us to make changes to the way we manage and support our environment. The most significant of these factors are the networking of “everything”, the move of many enterprise systems to operate in the cloud, and the ever-changing and increasing risk of malicious computer and network threats. All of these areas require changes to process, development of new skills, and changes in how funds are budgeted.
4. What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders?
Remember that it isn’t about the technology. The reason for the business to exist is not to have the latest and most elegant technologies. Every technology that is implemented carries with it a cost, even if it doesn’t cost a cent to purchase. Apply the appropriate solution to the problem and don’t get stuck on technologies that are in search of a problem to fix.
5. What has been your greatest career achievement?
My greatest career achievement has been in helping to create a worldclass team of professionals that strive to make Sinclair successful. We have worked together to develop a strong relationship with our customers. We have also developed many technology solutions that improve their experience, security and success. We have even won multiple awards for work that we’ve done to further these efforts and have released some of our work as open source products to help others solve the same problems.
6. Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently?
Bought Apple stock.