Real life stories inspire excellence. Education is a worthy investment in our future. Our deeds change the world. Fourteen heroes shared this at the Colorado School of Mines, in the Joe Eazor Executive in Residence program for the Masters in Engineering and Technology Management program this Spring. Joe is a Mines graduate, the CEO of Rackspace, and sponsor of the 2018 EiR series.

Greg Keller, the Chief Product Manager at Jump Cloud, a Boulder startup spoke about how young people can recognize the leader within them. James Jamison of SAP spoke of his rise from a latchkey kid to an IBM distinguished engineer and a SAP leader. He shared the power of mentors to find their “passion-voice.” Abby Benson, CU Boulder’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for research and innovation shared her courageous journey from arts and humanities major to science, US Coast Guard, lobbying for MITsuperfund cleanup public relations lead, and science and research champion. Bart Lorang, the CEO of Full Contact spoke about building pure-people core, shared vulnerability, and interpersonal integrity to create a strong startup culture.  Katherine Knowles, the Teradata vice president of global customer success & engagement shared how an innovative and agile company can exceed giants like IBM and Oracle through brilliance, focus, and clarity – and what that means for engineers as well as business leaders. Jessica Garcia, a young Professional Engineer spoke of the Imposter Syndrome, where high achievers question their success, even when it is hard earned and legitimate.  Mike Carey, a math enthusiast, US Air Force pilot, and Harvard lawyer turned entrepreneur with his own startup, FENIX.AI, told the students that he failed constantly in life until he got centered on this project. Steven Villanueva, the CEO of Otero Menswear, and a veteran of big tech (IBM, Dell), venture investing, successful exits, and Stanford law, inspired outside the box thinking through his life examples. Estes Banks, an ex-Oakland Raider’s player and on their Super Bowl team, spoke about personal accountability and compared mentoring cultures in professional athletics and corporations. George Promis, the quintessential Fortune executive, the 40-year IBM career Vice President, and now a Ricoh executive, spoke about values that shape and forge life. Julie Korak, Ph.D. with dazzling research credentials at 31 spoke of the unseen charred remains of many attempts before her career built the foundation that shines and stands tall already, with great promise for the future. Finally, Nick Gromicko, the head of InterNACHI, the largest and most innovative association of home inspectors on the planet, shared how he has built his businesses. Going against the grain of lifetime employment, he inspired the students to learn fast and pursue their own dreams. “Almost all of you will have fine lives,” he said, except for those of you who have wealthy parents (because you will expect things to be done for you).


The program was a kaleidoscopic symphony of mentors serving up their life lessons. Prof. Richard Hunt mentored us all. Kathleen Martin and Rebecca Guillen ensured that we heard and served all the students. Prof. Sid Saleh went the extra mile to prepare the students for their final presentation, and Kelly Beard made sure that everyone benefitted from the speakers’ inspiration. Every session was a full house. Even the incredible division director for the Division of Economics and Business, Prof. Rod Eggert fit the program in between his travels. It gave weight and legitimacy to us all. Joe Eazor, the CEO at Rackspace, and a Mines graduate sponsored all this work. I am grateful to have had the chance to share these incomparable heroes’ magic.


Indeed, the awesome students left a smile on all our faces. We planted the seeds, which will germinate as students’ realities nurture the inspiration. Humanity is in good hands with the leaders of the future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *