October STEM Career Profile
Greg Martin, CIO
Greg Martin is fairly new to the Pacific NW but didn’t stall on time to become networked into the community and share his talents with a variety of education programs focused on youth. We appreciate Greg taking the time out of his busy day to share with our writers at iUrban Teen.
What is your current job title and what does that entail?
I am Chief Information Officer at Knowledge Universe, a leader in early childhood education. My role probably seems like a technology role, but it is really a leadership role. I lead a team of over 100 people, most in India, some in the Philippines, and some right here in Portland. I’m responsible for making sure my team is organized to meet the needs of our business. I do a lot of networking and recruiting to find the right talent. At the same time, I need to make sure my team is aware of expectations, has the tools and processes in place to deliver, and gets the training and exposure opportunities to grow professionally.
My role is also technical. We manage all of the information technology assets, from phones to tablets to laptops to PCs to servers, networks, storage, messaging, etc. I also spend a lot of time talking with and listening to other leaders in the company about their strategic objectives and how technology can be leveraged to meet them.
What created that spark to lead you into a career in technology?
I always was good at math (my brothers used to sit me on the back porch when I was 3 or 4 and laugh at me because I knew the answers to their math flash card problems…they thought they were making fun of me, but I just craved hanging out with my big brothers, so making them laugh made me want to get more answers right… positive reinforcement is a wonderful thing, even if unintentional).
In elementary school, I was finishing my work early and disrupting things, so Ms. Gray took me to the side and taught me algebra while the rest of the class finished their assignments. At the same time, my mother had me in summer classes at University of Southern California. I took a class in the fun side of math (multiply any number by 9, and add the remaining digits up and they will add up to a multiple of 9!). I also took a class in mini-moog taught by Patrice Rushen. I enjoyed the musical side, but the knobs and meters interested me more.
By 5th grade, I was helping my brother, who was in 9th grade, with his algebra homework. My father bought me a radio shack radio kit, and I built my own radio when I was around 13. Our pipe system was my antennae. Touching resistors and diodes and capacitors for the first time excited my curiosity, but I didn’t get serious about electrical engineering until my 3rd year of college. I had early exposure though.
Summer before my senior year, I attended the Minority Introduction to Engineering mini-course at University of California at Los Angeles. I got recruited into the Minority Engineering Program at California State University of Northridge (under the brilliant leadership of Dr. Raymond B Landis and Rick Ainsworth), and there I started networking with so many future engineers, that it became inevitable.
How do you (or would you) prepare the next generation for leadership roles in engineering or technology?
By supporting iUrban Teen, the National Society of Black Engineer, the Society for Information Management, Kairos school, University of Portland, Technology Association of Oregon, Airway Science, Building Blocks for Success, and any other programs that are designed to help our youth gain exposure to STEM disciplines. I play various roles in all of these organizations, in addition to my primary job with Knowledge Universe (which has a robotics program and will be doing more STEM work in the near future), because I passionately believe in the value of all of these efforts.
What’s one thing that youth can do to bring out their inner leader?
Lead. If only your own self.
If you weren’t in this career path what else would be doing?
I’d be playing bass for Lauryn Hill, which means I would be broke and trying to get a job playing bass for Janelle Monet. I’d also be making movies and running a Belgian beer pub that plays live music, serves BBQ and Jerk Chicken, and plays sports on TV.
Can you tell us one interesting fact that most people don’t know about you?
I used to be an actor. I did one TV show as a youth and several plays.
iUrban Teen thanks Greg Martin for our interview..