When Kevin Ruthen was deciding on what to study as an undergraduate, he felt torn. He was interested in technology and business but couldn’t decide which to pursue. Luckily, after visiting the iSchool and learning about their diverse program, he didn’t have to choose. “The ability to take business courses from the Whitman School of Management and technical courses at the iSchool, I felt it was the best of both worlds,” says Ruthen.
Ruthen immersed himself in the iSchool. He graduated with a degree in Information Management and returned three years later for his master’s. He looked into various schools when considering his master’s, but the iSchool stood out again. In comparison to other programs he looked at, the iSchool seemed the most up-to-date. Plus, the program offered remote and distant learning options for some courses, making it easier to balance school while working full-time.
“One of the things I enjoyed about my experiences at the iSchool is the diversity of the curriculum, professors, and student body,” says Ruthen. “It provided a well-rounded experience. I got to interact with many different types of personalities, different people with different perspectives, and the curriculum was relevant and continuously updating.”
After earning his master’s, Ruthen took on various roles utilizing all aspects of his degree. He started as a consultant with IBM Global Business Services for three years, then transitioned to Principal Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. In 2003, he joined Unisys as Global Managing Director, where he spent twelve years working with the Tools and Methodology Team, and then went on to be Head of Technology for American Institute of Physics Publishing. Ruthen transitioned once again to Chief Technology Officer at Support.com. In this role, he was responsible for all technology areas, from development and engineering to quality insurance and web infrastructure. He also utilized his business education through non-technology-related responsibilities such as security, product management, and project management.
Through each new role, Ruthen grew as a leader in technology and business. When assessing new positions, Ruthen says he looks for a strong desire and culture based around partnership, collaboration, and transparent communication. “I think one of the most valuable things from Syracuse University was the emphasis and experience on team projects and how to collaborate effectively,” says Ruthen. “Syracuse allowed me to emerge as an effective leader.”
Recently, Ruthen accepted a new role as Chief Technology Officer at Fora Financial. As the CTO of Fora Financial, Ruthen oversees the product and development engineering team, technology platform, data exchange, and security. His new role also allows him to use his experience in digital transformation and delivery excellence for innovation and growth strategies for competitive differentiation.
“What excites me is being able to establish technology as a true business partner to drive, brainstorm and collaborate across the different business areas for new revenue opportunities. And that’s one of the things that led me to my new opportunity as CTO at Fora Financial, says Ruthen. “The role aligned strongly with my passions, skills, and capabilities. What attracts me is that I can join an organization looking to embrace collaboration and partnership and looking for a transformational leader. I view myself as someone who can have a direct impact on the business and understand what the organizational strategic objectives are, where the gaps are from a people, process, and technology platform perspective, and how to address those gaps.”
For some, moving onto the next opportunity can feel intimidating, especially for new graduates looking for their first career move out of college. Ruthen’s advice? Understand what’s important to you and find somewhere that shares your passions.
“Get a sense of an organization’s culture and if it fits your desires,” shares Ruthen. “Get a good sense of the manager you’d be reporting to and the folks who’d be working with. What are their personalities and approach? Is there a synergy? Would they be excited to collaborate and work with you? You should always go in thinking about key questions that you want to ask. And make sure there’s a good fit. Most people leave an organization not because of compensation but because they’re not happy with the people they’re working with. That’s why I say it’s important to get that sense of the right culture, environment, and people.”