Seidenberg Alumnus Feature: Jonathan Etkin ’02

Each year, Seidenberg students graduate and move into the workforce. Graduates build their careers and hold close to the knowledge they gained at Seidenberg. When we have the chance to share the stories of alumni who’ve gone on to succeed in their fields, we jump at the opportunity. Alumnus Jonathan Etkin shared his story with us.

The Danbury, Connecticut native spent four and a half years at Pace University to obtain a master’s degree as a part-time student while also living a double life as a full-time employee and commuter. Jonathan’s path to higher education was strenuous, but he made sure to keep his eyes on the goal: a Masters of Science degree from the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Before his time at Pace, Jonathan got his Bachelor of Science degree in finance from SUNY Albany. While he knew he wanted to work in the technology industry, the light bulb didn’t go off for him until 1995 when he was working in NYC as an accountant and Microsoft software was becoming an office staple.

“Working in that field for a while was when I realized that I really had an aptitude and a passion for technology,” he explains. “That’s when I decided to pursue the masters at Pace.”

“The first technology I was introduced to in-work was the thing I intended to do my studies and my papers on—multidimensional databases.”

This led Jonathan to the Masters of Business Information Systems program at Pace University. From there, it took a lot of focus to keep his eye on the prize.

Jonathan set out to work full-time, study as a part-time student, plan a wedding, and juggle life as a commuter. The key was to find a flexible job. He made sure to unlock his potential by finding a job that understood the importance of the education that he was pursuing.

“It’s important to find a job that is willing to let you leave on certain days at certain times,” Jonathan expresses.

Doing this allowed him the flexibility he needed while he was commuting from work to Pace’s former White Plains campus. Jonathan’s work schedule had him leaving work 2 to 3 times a week for class. It was a wonderful opportunity for him to gain work experience while also gaining a degree that would open up more doors for him.

Jonathan was introduced to “Enterprise Performance Management” technology early in his career. This new form of multidimensional databases furthered his passion to work in the industry he dreamed of.

“Not only did I have the personal desire to go in that direction, I found the benefits and how much more efficient you could be and how much more quickly you could get things done and get them done accurately,” he explains.

Once Jonathan graduated with his master’s degree from Seidenberg in 2002, he immediately began to excel in management positions in the tech and consulting industries, implementing Oracle / Hyperion Performance Management Solutions.

In 2017, Jonathan shifted his career to become the Customer Success Director at Anaplan, a modern, cloud-based planning platform. At Anaplan, Jonathan’s team is in charge of customer implementations to ensure success.

When asked how he feels in his role at Anaplan, he explains that “it’s exciting, to be honest. It’s a new cutting edge technology. Anaplan was born to be a cloud software product, so it’s just a more modern take on the same type of technology.”

“I work with our implementation partners and our customers to make sure we are delivering on what they feel they purchased from us,” he explains.

When talking about the work he and his team members do, Jonathan explains with an example. If a company wants to track their expenses or any other possible variables, the implementation partners at Anaplan ensure that the company’s goals are met. Jonathan’s team makes sure the transition is seamless and efficient and that the customers are satisfied with the product.

“We do what we need to do to make the customers happy and successful,” he explains. “We’re pulling in all the right people to make sure we’re successful.”

As a professional successfully making moves in the technology industry, it’s safe to say that Jonathan’s advice is something to listen to. We’re proud of everything he has done since his time at Seidenberg. He wanted to leave us with some words of advice for Seidenberg students:

“One thing I’ve learned over the years is that…simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I would advise people who are learning technology to not over-engineer solutions for their end-users,” Jonathan advises. “Your main goal as an implementer should be focused on the end-user experience. Make it simple, easy to understand, scalable, and easy to maintain.”

Tech Leadership Series: UPS STEM Innovation and Diversity

This October, the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series had not only one, but three amazing guests from UPS at the Seidenberg Lounge: Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development, Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology, and Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager. Being that tech has always been seen as more male-oriented, it’s refreshing to see and meet women who have found tremendous success in this field. Their presence proves that women in tech have the ability to flourish in any aspect of technology.

Diane Chan
Diane Chan, Senior Manager of Applications Development

Diane Chan, like many college students, started school with one major in mind and finished with a degree in another. Through trial and error, she was able to recognize that her passions laid less with finances and more with technology. Initially an accounting major, Diane graduated from Pace University with a degree in Management Information Systems (MIS), thus demonstrating that college grants students the ability to explore other topics of interest.

 

Carla J. Garcia-Maier
Carla J. Garcia-Maier, Director of Cloud Platforms & Technology

Carla J. Garcia-Maier had a similar experience. It was in the U.S. Army that Carla developed her love for technology. After serving, Carla tried to follow in her father’s footsteps as a real estate agent, but quickly realized that she desired a career involving technology and leadership. Once that decision was made, Carla joined UPS in 1999 and has been working there ever since.

 

Stacie Morgan
Stacie Morgan, Senior Application Development Manager

Stacie Morgan discovered her interest in technology after realizing the application of computers for business problems through programs like VisiCalc and dBase. Although her interests involved technology, she later found that she was more interested in the organizational side. Once hired by UPS, Stacie started off as an Information Center Analyst and was promoted to Lead Programming Analyst until, in December 2015, she was finally promoted to Senior Application Development Manager.

Because technology is being used in every aspect of our lives, the market for jobs in the tech field has increased tremendously – and so has job competition. With so many people who are equally qualified competing for the same positions, how do you make yourself stand out?

Diane’s answer to this is: “You have to step out your comfort zone.” This was a lesson she had to learn throughout her career at UPS. She stressed that, in order to be recognized for your accomplishments, it’s important to take that extra step and make yourself known. Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ll become one step closer to success.

Carla had her own guidance to offer. When asked about her transition from military to civilian life, she explained one perk of working with people whose background differed from her own: the increase in expansive ideas. When working with people who don’t share that military background and are more relaxed in their way of thinking, the chances of coming up with the same idea is much lower. Solutions become more creative and individualistic that way. When everyone thinks the same, deliberation stops, and you end up settling on an answer that may not be the best or most efficient answer to the problem. Being open-minded is key to working in the technical field, especially because a majority of the work gets accomplished in teams.

Despite a majority of those in the tech industry being men, when asked how it feels to be a woman working in that field, Stacie confidently answered, “I’ve never seen myself as a woman in information systems,” thus, highlighting that women in technology are people first before anything else. Unfortunately, because there is a major disparity between the number of male and female workers in tech, a disparity with a ratio of 4:1 to be exact, women may often feel isolated in their careers. Stacie, on the other hand didn’t fall victim to this. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until she was given her managerial position that she noticed how few women were on her teams. She suggests that, as a woman in tech, it’s best to pay more attention to the task at hand. Focusing more on their capabilities as a person in tech will help them pay less attention to that gender disparity.

Thankfully, here at Pace University, our Women in Tech club provides a safe space for female students studying technology to connect and relate. If you’re a Pace student feel free to stop by one of their meetings every other Monday. Click here to be added to their mailing list and see all their latest events!

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Seidenberg Innovation Awards honors the top tech innovators of today, supports tech innovators of tomorrow

On April 24, 2019, the Seidenberg Innovation Awards took place at Pace University’s New York City campus. The event was a celebration of innovation in the tech community and a chance for friends and supporters of the School to get together and share the Seidenberg love.

The evening consisted of a cocktail reception where guests mingled over drinks and appetizers, followed by the awards presentations in Pace University’s beautiful Schimmel Theater. After the awards, dessert and coffee was served in the lobby while guests discussed the event.

An amazing number of our young alumni returned to Pace to celebrate – we love you guys too!

Alumni of recent years and some from a little further back turned out in force – the reception lounge was packed and it was fantastic seeing so many familiar faces returning to Pace University to support their alma mater. Many of these students also benefited from scholarships and support provided by our community and took the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation.

Plenty of Seidenberg School faculty and staff were also present, and Pace President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones made the most of some excellent photo ops with current and past students.

Peter Fleischut: “the role that Pace University is playing in training the workforce of the future is critical”

Special guest Peter Fleischut gave a few remarks, saying that “the role that Pace University is playing in training the workforce of the future is critical.”

After an hour and a half of socializing and catching up (we had to start early – guests couldn’t wait to come in!), it was time for the main event, the awards portion! This was the first year the Seidenberg School had tried out this format: previously known as the Leadership and Service in Technology (LST) Awards, former iterations of the event honored a single individual for their contributions to the field. This time, in homage to the Seidenberg School’s 35th anniversary, we updated the event title and went a tad more Hollywood with our delivery. We had three honorees this time, all of whom have had significant impact and who we couldn’t wait to recognize, and we also had the glamor of the Schimmel Theater, which lent itself perfectly to the nature of the event.

Dean Jonathan Hill took to the stage first to give his welcoming remarks and kick off the evening. He introduced President Krislov, who spoke about his experiences with the Seidenberg School.

“One of the things that I’ve always noticed when I walk the halls of Seidenberg is that there’s just this sense of support and care . . . and that’s before I even get to the hugging point!” President Krislov remarked, referring to the stickers placed around Seidenberg that reflect our Design Factory way of thinking. “It’s just really extraordinary and I can’t imagine there are too many schools like that,” he said, adding to Dean Hill, “We owe a lot to you and your leadership.”

President Krislov shows off one of the now infamous Dean Hill buttons during his speech at SIA

Following President Krislov, Dean Hill returned to the stage to talk about what was special about the Seidenberg School. “We are unique because we are high tech and high touch,” he said. “Our students learn from their faculty and from each other in small classes of 24 rather than massive lectures of 200 . . . we are special because we teach technology as a team sport and as a global enterprise: as a student here, your lab partner is as likely to be in Sao Paulo or Helsinki or Singapore as to be in the seat next to you. However, that person in the seat next to you will be your friend and resource for life.”

He continued: “Our students have been called smart, ambitious, scrappy, entrepreneurial and highly motivated to succeed. They come from every economic, racial and geographic background and they are 29 per cent female – and growing. Some of them come from prep school backgrounds some from the most underserved of public high schools, but all of them are here to fulfil their potential. They are the technology work force of 2025, the management layer of 2030 and the founders and C-level executives of 2040.”

Dean Hill then introduced one such student, Allan Krasner, a junior computer science student who became the President of Pace Computing Society in his freshman year and who now runs Seidenberg Creative Labs as Product Manager.

“Coming from a robotics background, I knew that I had an interest in computer science,” Allan told the audience. “So when it came time to search for colleges, it was a fairly simple choice. Pace was one of the few universities in the nation to have a whole school dedicated to computer science.”

Student speaker Allan Krasner shares his story and what made it possible

Allan went on to recount his remarkable experience as a Seidenberg student, detailing what made it all possible: “I’m here at Pace because of donors like you . . . your support has empowered me to achieve the goals I set for myself when I came to Pace, and I can confidently say that this is an education that I would not be able to get at any other school.”

He concluded: “I’m just one of the many students here at Pace, each of whom is accomplishing something special and changing the world in their own way. My story nor that of my friends and colleagues . . . would not be possible without help from the amazing Pace staff, Pace faculty, and most importantly supporters and alumni like yourselves.”

It was time for the awards.

Our honorees for the 2019 Seidenberg Innovation Awards: Daniel Barchi accepted an award on behalf of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Lesley Ma, Hank Hyatt, joined by Peter Fleischut

First up was Lesley Ma, the Global Chief Information Officer at Cadillac, who was presented with the Innovative Leadership award. This wasn’t Lesley’s first time at Seidenberg – she was one of our esteemed speakers at our Tech Leadership Series where she shared tips and advice with our students. On this evening, Lesley brought with her one of Cadillac’s virtual reality experiences, which was set up right outside the SIA reception space! Guests got to explore Cadillac vehicles in the virtual space and take them for a test drive (so to speak).

Thank you Lesley and Cadillac for all you have done for the Seidenberg School!

The second award was for Innovation in Fintech, and our honoree was Hank Hyatt, the Co-Chief Information Officer MS&Co. Global Head Fixed Income & Equity Electronic Trading IT at Morgan Stanley. As a Pace alum, Hank was already connected to what makes this University so special, and it was wonderful to have him back on campus to meet with the smart and ambitious students that his leadership has an impact on. Hank also coordinated additional sponsorship from consulting company MThree, which was fantastic. Thank you Hank!

Finally, we were delighted to honor NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital with the Innovation in Healthcare IT award. CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Daniel Barchi, was there to accept the award and share some of the exciting things that are taking place at one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the world. Like Lesley, this was not Daniel’s first time talking tech with the Seidenberg School: he was also on campus for the Tech Leadership Series and we also recently published an interview with him regarding NewYork-Presbyterian’s mission to revolutionize the healthcare IT industry.

Some of our students and alumni enjoying the evening with President Krislov
Dean Hill with a literal Seidenberg family – the Posner sisters: alumna Ava and current student Laina

Check out our Instagram story covering the event here!

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Social Media: a talk with Matthew Knell

Matthew Knell, Tech Mentor-in-Residence and former Head of Social Media Care and Community Programs at Samsung, came to Pace University’s NYC campus for an open discussion on social media with students. The advisory board member and Seidenberg alumnus has twenty-plus years of experience in social strategy, customer experience, and community building. Students were engaged from start to finish—and not just because pizza was provided.

Matthew explained that he came to Seidenberg to share his “knowledge and experiences in a practical way… with the folks here who are learning how to be a professional and… [learning] new skills in the environment.”

Matthew opened the talk by explaining how to survive in the technology industry. His words of advice were wise and concise: “roll with the punches and…be willing to adapt yourself to the roles that exist.”

The discussion moved from current social media trends to the way media affects society, and lastly, to how it will continue to evolve in the future. Students engaged in open discussion and stayed after the event to ask more questions. Matthew explained that he hopes to offer up practical advice to those in attendance.

“As [students are] thinking about what they’re doing with their career and their life, I like to offer a few nuggets of [advice] to help them figure out what they want to do next” he stated.

While adding knowledge and names to your resume is important, gaining practical advice from an industry professional is priceless. Matthew took the time to steer students in the right direction, whether they were interested in social media or not. In an industry where connections and professionalism mean everything, it was a chance for students to understand just what it takes to be a leader.

Matthew noted that these discussions are important as they are a “good opportunity for anyone to grow and learn in their career.”

To wrap up his experience, Matthew noted, “[It was] a very engaging crowd. I think that it was really great to get a bunch of awesome questions. It… demonstrates the quality of the Seidenberg School and their students, and what they’re doing. It’s just fun to come back home and get to meet some new folks.”

We’re lucky to have such an involved alumnus who’s willing to reach out to the Seidenberg community. Make sure to attend future events to gain industry knowledge and much more!

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The Seidenberg School wishes Katie Todd a Happy Birthday!

By Jai Dengle and Brianna Adkins

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems is here to wish the happiest of birthdays to Katie Todd! The Pace University alumna and current Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Operations has been with us since she began her Master of Science degree in Publishing in 2013. Upon graduating in 2015, Katie became the Communications Manager for the Seidenberg School. The Seidenberg School has so much radiance and hilarity with Katie around, which creates an environment everyone wants to be in.

As the Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Operations at Seidenberg, Katie manages the activities and functions of the office whilst also instilling a culture of communication among everyone within the Seidenberg School. She’s a major contributor to the welcoming energy that’s contained within the Seidenberg Lounge and beyond.

In honor of her birthday, we asked the Dean of Seidenberg, Dr. Jonathan Hill, and student employees to express how they feel about Katie. Their quotes perfectly capture what Katie means to the Seidenberg community.

“She’s wonderfully perfect in every way, but don’t tell her I said that,” Dr. Hill explained with a whisper.

Jai Dengle, a student obtaining her masters in Information Systems, explained just what makes Katie a “boss.”

“The one who is beautiful at heart, obliging to everyone, sincere with work, and strict for perfection. That’s my boss, Katie Todd,” Jai exclaimed!

Christopher “Topher” Cherestal, a senior Information Systems major at Pace University, stated: “not only does Katie have a smashing accent but she also has this ability to make you feel like you’re on top of the world while also grounding you and bringing you back to earth, she’s amazing”

We want to express our gratitude to Katie for all that she does for Seidenberg! Katie, happiest of birthdays to you!

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Melanie Madera is the Glue of the Seidenberg Community

Pace University alumna, Melanie Madera recently took on the new role of Community Manager of the Seidenberg community (aka, the glue of Seidenberg). Last year in May, Melanie began her new position at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science & Information Systems. Her journey from university student to community manager is full of hard work and determination!

She began her college journey at Pace University on the downtown New York City campus in 2002. As a commuter, she worked numerous part-time jobs in order to pay for her education, gaining experience at Nintendo as a Marketing/Sales Associate and at a non-profit assisting children in the foster care system. She went on to earn her BBA in Marketing with a concentration in Advertising and Promotions.

“I will always remember my time at Pace with fond memories,” Melanie notes. “I still get a pang of nostalgia whenever I walk the halls at One Pace Plaza. They were some of the best years of my life!”

Now, as the Community Manager at Seidenberg, Melanie has the opportunity to make the Pace experience better for new students. Asked what her role entails, she quips, “what doesn’t it?”

She handles all of Seidenberg’s New York City campus events and clubs, as well as managing the student assistants at the front desk. She also assists Dean Hill in organizing his schedule and calendar to improve his time management. Overall, she makes the Seidenberg community better by listening to and observing the dynamics of the office.

Melanie explains, “in general, I keep the office going, make sure the faculty is supported and, most importantly, I always make sure that we have coffee stocked in the kitchen. Gotta keep Seidenberg caffeinated!”

 

As for what she brings to the office—besides coffee and an overall sense of community—Melanie believes that she has brought both a sense of organization and transparency.

“My work experience here in the Seidenberg School has been one of the most productive and positive community environments that I have had the pleasure of being a part of,” she explains. “I have to say that the culture here at Seidenberg is unlike any other place I have worked at. I have experience in many work environments: start-ups, small businesses, non-profits, large corporations; but the sense of community and comradery here is really refreshing.”

While she notes marketing as her true passion, she is also “passionate about treating the [Seidenberg] space with respect and to value what [the community has], because [she] feels that it starts with one person; once people see how much care and time you take in making it a great place to work, they tend to follow suit.”

She uses the skills that she learned at Pace to better the community of Seidenberg. “When I have the opportunity to flex my creative muscle and take someone’s vision and make it a reality, it really is a wonderful feeling,” she admits.

As long as Melanie flexes her creative muscles as the Community Manager for Seidenberg, the lounge will always be a safe space for students and faculty. We’re thankful for all that she does for our community and cannot wait for all that she has in store for the future.

“I feel like I was destined to be a part of this team and it feels like I just fit right in; everyone accepted me and is thankful for my hard work and dedication,” Melanie notes. “Everyone here takes pride in their work and in helping students and it shows! I’m really proud to be here and definitely have Seidenberg pride!”

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