During spring semester of 1988, my junior year at Notre Dame, I took a CAPP course on consulting. We studied what it meant to consult, from customer needs assessment to research to proposal writing. The consulting course required us to identify a client, engage with them, and write a proposal to address their needs. It was timely because on the side I happened to be co-editor-in-chief of the Dome yearbook. At the time, we used an Apple IIe as a glorified word processor to write-up our stories but still did manual page layout using scissors, a light board and broadsheet. Because I felt there could be a better way to produce the Dome, I decided the client would be the Dome staff and administration. I proposed replacing the manual page layout with new Macintosh computers, Aldus PageMaker software for page layout, Microsoft Word for the word processing and laser printers. The proposal was accepted by Notre Dame and that summer between junior and senior years, I spent at school procuring and setting up the new desktop publishing system. We were the first university to use such a system with our publishing house.
It was that consulting class and real-life experience it afforded that jump started me towards my career in IT. One year later I was offered a job at as a consultant in a small firm in Chicago, Lante Corporation. The combination of a liberal arts focus (I was a philosophy major) with training and actual experience with IT thanks to CAPP proved interesting to several prospective employers including Lante where I hired on and Anderson Consulting which today is called Accenture. In those interviews, I retold the Dome consulting story when asked about my experience. I am sure it was key to several job offers upon graduation.
As my consulting career progressed, I soon tapped into other skills I had learned in CAPP such as programming. While in CAPP I learned a few languages which I never actually used after school, including COBOL and dBase III. Thankfully, I not only learned specific languages, I had learned how to program. It was the programming foundational concepts I learned in CAPP, not the actual languages, which helped me learn other languages as a consultant. I parlayed that learning into self-training on Visual Basic which I then used at many clients for years, including into early part of my Nike career.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that while CAPP was an essential element in my career, it was not the only key educational element. While my CAPP training helped me land a job, it was my overall Notre Dame background and in particular the combination of liberal arts and computing that has fueled my career growth. I’m now Director of Strategy and Sustainability for the global IT division at Nike, the world’s foremost make of athletic apparel and footwear. To be head of strategy in a division this large and a company this competitive takes an ability to think critically, write clearly, understand system dynamics, dialogue, debate and decide. CAPP alone didn't provide the basis for these skills. To this day I continue to tap into the important combination of learnings from CAPP, philosophy and my entire Notre Dame education to further develop skills I started and first put to the test in that CAPP consulting project so many years ago.
For 19 years, Tom has been a part of Nike, enabling business through technology and process solutions for all areas of Nike's "front of the house" including Brand Marketing, Product Creation, Retail, Sales and Sports Marketing. Now in his current role, as Director of IT Strategy & Sustainability, Tom drives strategic planning and performance management for Nike’s global IT division. In this role Tom combines his 25 years of IT experience with his passion for sustainability, coaching Nike's IT teams to seek "triple bottom line" results when delivering solutions to Nike’s business needs. Prior to Nike, Tom worked for Lante Consulting in Chicago as a Sr. Consultant on technology projects for clients such as Chicago Tribune, Kraft and Baxter Healthcare. Tom received two bachelor degrees in Philosophy and Computer Applications from the University of Notre Dame (1989) and his masters in Applied Information Management from the University of Oregon.