CEO of Prosono
Hometown: Manassa, CO
Grad school: Colorado School of Mines, MS Engineering and Technology Management, 2001
Undergrad: Colorado School of Mines, BS Math and Computer Science, 1997 – 2000
Why did you choose Mines, and more specifically, the ETM program?
JJS: I’ve always been drawn to math and science. When my high school counselor recommended that I look at a summer minority engineering program that Mines offered, I applied and got in. I loved my experience there and was intent on going to Mines for college. After a couple of internships at large companies, I found that I didn’t really understand the mechanics of business. I was lost in non-technical meetings because I didn’t understand the vocabulary or what people were getting at. I always knew I would stay close to technology, but thought it would give me a leg up to better understand how a business actually operates. The ETM program made perfect sense for me.
Tell me about your experience at Mines. What stands out in your mind?
JJS: I loved my time at Mines. I made some great friends that I still hang out with today. I’ve always enjoyed being with smart and passionate people, and Mines has no shortage of that type of person.
Tell me about Prosono and your role there.
JJS: I am the CEO of Prosono, a company that I founded last year. There is a striking trend these days of people trying to positively impact their communities by becoming more selective in the products they purchase and companies they choose to work for. This has created new opportunities for businesses to resonate more deeply with their customers and employees. We help organizations find and take advantage of these opportunities. It is a mix of strategy, product development, innovation, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and software development.
Where do you most use your ETM training and how did it prepare you for this job?
JJS: Initially, project management was my go-to. However, even today I still use technology strategy. The world is moving quickly and knowing how to think in outcomes and rapid learning vs. thinking in outputs and following a detailed plan is something I still incorporate today.
What are the biggest challenges new graduates face in the marketplace in terms of building a successful career?
JJS: The biggest challenge is bringing the creativity and innovation required to keep pace in today’s world. As the fourth industrial revolution takes hold, old business models rooted in manufacturing best practices are dying and being replaced with something much more pliable and dynamic. The scientific method still applies, but its practice has become appropriate in places you never thought it would.
From a curricular perspective, identify key areas of excellence that ETM should emphasize to better prepare graduates for the workplace.
JJS: Innovation frameworks, LEAN Startup (lots of companies want their teams to behave like a small startup within their organization), how to create a culture that cherishes validated learning vs. just meeting deadlines and following instructions.
Congratulations on your recent appointment to the Mines Board of Trustees!
JJS: I’m thrilled to be a part of the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees. I look forward to giving back to a place that has already given me so much.