Majoring in MIS proved to be the perfect fit for Joe Parker (BSBA ’08, MBA ’10), who has always been a self-proclaimed technology nerd.
“Both of my parents worked in technology, and it rubbed off on me,” he says.
After graduating high school, his love of technology took him to Oakland University in Michigan, but Parker didn’t enjoy the large classes and limited interaction with professors. He left to earn a two-year computer networking degree from ITT Tech, and then attended a community college in Michigan for one semester before his dad accepted a position at Bank of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Parker moved with his family and transferred to TU.
One of the most important lessons Parker took away from his MIS undergraduate studies was an understanding of how to learn, citing a senior project class as an example.
“We had to build a website in ASP.NET using SQL Server for the Tulsa Area United Way — a language and database we hadn’t learned in our programming classes.”
Though he didn’t appreciate a task he felt unprepared for at the time, Parker says that, “In the real world, that’s common. You get thrown a task that you don’t know how to do, and you have to teach yourself how to do it.”
After completing his undergraduate degree in 2008, Parker enrolled in the flexible MBA program at TU while balancing an internship in the IT infrastructure group at Tulsa-based Williams. During his second year as a graduate student, he began working full-time in the infrastructure group developing reports on Williams’ asset management system and maintaining the health of the company’s file servers across the country.
Parker transitioned to a role as an IT analyst four years later and relocated to the Williams office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I came to the northeast because I thought it was the best opportunity to advance my career with Williams,” he says. “The northeast is a hotbed for natural gas companies. You have new growth, drilling and opportunity. I thought I could get experience here that I couldn’t get in Tulsa.”
In his role, Parker oversees the process for establishing IT infrastructure in new office buildings as well as projects to improve field site communication in remote areas and manage security access control.
Parker notes that he uses skills learned in his systems analysis and design classes at TU to perform his job today. “We learned a lot of requirements gathering and documentation skills which are hugely important to me in the field doing project management,” he says. “They are skills I apply in every project I work on.”
Something Parker especially enjoys about his job is having employees from the Tulsa office travel to the northeast for a site visit. As he leads employees on the site tour, Parker shows them how the company’s servers are deployed and how server operations impact the business.
“I enjoy the people I work with, and my job is a blast. I look forward to coming to work every day and seeing how what I do has a direct impact on the bottom line at Williams.”