Warren Kudman is Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Turner Construction Company, a North America-based, international construction services company. As CIO, Warren is responsible for developing and executing Turner’s IT strategy and delivering solutions that support continuous improvement in Turner’s core construction business and support functions.
Prior to joining Turner, Mr. Kudman was the Chief Information Officer of Sealed Air Corporation, a $7 billion global manufacturer of food and industrial packaging and cleaning and hygiene solutions. During his time at Sealed Air, Warren also led the Integration Program for Sealed Air’s acquisition of Diversey, a $3 billion global entity.
Warren also spent six years with McKinsey & Company in the company’s New York, New Jersey, and Copenhagen offices. During this time, he advised clients on market strategy, information technology strategy and management, operations improvement, and sales force productivity in the transportation, financial services, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries.
Warren is on the Advisory Board of IT Central Station, a social network where IT professionals share their experience and expertise on a wide range of IT products and service. Warren is also a mentor for candidates in the Masters of Science in Technology Management program at Columbia University. Warren has an MBA in Finance from New York University and a BS in Computer Science from Lehigh University.
An apprenticeship model is a very powerful and effective way to increase the number of people in the workforce with STEM experience and skills.
Consider the fact that even with availability of financial aid, a quality, college-level STEM education is out of reach for many. An apprenticeship can be a transformative opportunity, changing the trajectory of someone’s career and life. It can provide income and experience while enabling the apprentice to pursue higher education part-time. Under this model, although it may take longer to earn a degree, an apprentice will enter the workforce experienced and productive. Apprenticeships can open up a STEM education and career to students of all ages who might not have the chance otherwise.
I have experience with a non-profit called Workforce Opportunity Services that helps disadvantaged youth and military veterans transition into an IT career through training, part time work, and pursuit of a college degree. It is somewhat analogous to an apprenticeship model and it has been very successful. It is also very gratifying to be able to give individuals an opportunity to build a career that offers great experiences and exposure to a variety of challenges.
Perhaps the most important part of our responsibility as senior leaders is supporting the professional and personal development of the individuals on our teams. This includes working to create opportunities for them to gain experience, grow, build knowledge, and develop as leaders in their own right. It is actually a great privilege to be a mentor; not to create carbon copies of who I am but rather to help colleagues leverage their individual strengths as part of a team. A large part of my career satisfaction comes from being able to help others develop and succeed.
For the past few years, in addition to the work I do within Turner, I have been a mentor to candidates in Columbia University’s Masters in Technology Management program. It is rewarding to nurture the intellectual curiosity of these students and it’s also fun – I always learn something from them, and from the brilliant and varied projects they work on.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have had both formal and informal mentors over the years. In fact, I think a mentor can be a critical factor in long term career development. My mentors have influenced how I approach opportunities and challenges, and how I conduct myself in the workplace. I don’t believe you are ever too old or too senior to benefit from having a mentor.
Technology is increasingly integral to our everyday lives, even when we are not consciously engaging with it. Buildings, roads, machines, and tools have sensors to transmit vast quantities of information about their location and performance. Homes and cars are becoming more automated with the expectation that our daily lives will be easier and that we will become more efficient, both individually and as a society. Ever-increasing levels of computing power and ever-decreasing costs support daily breakthroughs in engineering, life sciences, and social sciences as well. The net result is that there is tremendous economic development and growth potential coming from advancements in STEM. We must have a broad, STEM educated talent pool that is able to harness technology, draw insight from all the data we are generating and capturing, and use that technology and those insights to innovate and create value for us individually and as a society.
It is vitally important that we encourage students to pursue the great opportunities that a STEM career offers. We need to help them understand the different ways a STEM career can connect them with a meaningful and true purpose. Let’s look at what we do at Turner. Our employees build structures that are unique, iconic, and can transform the look and feel of a community, a city, even a country. These recognizable structures will last for many decades, influencing how people feel as they work, study, travel, see the doctor, and take in a sporting event. There is a tremendous amount of pride that goes with that. The work we do really makes a difference in the world.
Nearly every industry depends in some way on STEM skills. As we help students consider the type of contribution they want to make, the type of difference they want to make in the world and in their life, we have to help them draw the connection between their goals and careers in STEM.
Although it has been proven that money is not the primary motivator for most people when making career choices, I don’t think we need to be shy in highlighting that many STEM careers come with better than average compensation, and that in addition to having purpose and impact, you also have a reasonable chance at long term financial stability.