JT Stark received his Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Nevada, Reno and earned a Dual-Master’s degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems from Colorado State University. While earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees he worked at Microsoft full-time for ten years (2004-2014) in many roles with a primary focus and specialty in project management and data analytics. Following Microsoft, he began teaching data analytics in the K-12 public school system as well as information systems at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Education at the University of Nevada, Reno with an emphasis on technology.
In a recent interview, JT Stark shared more about his experience in education and information systems.
When did you first know you wanted to enter your field?
I’ve been interested in computers and technology since I was young child. I remember the first time I experienced the internet and was in awe! I couldn’t get enough then and I still can’t get enough now! I knew in high school I wanted to work in the tech industry and got hired at Microsoft when I was 19 years old. It was at Microsoft I honed my skills and developed a true passion for business, process automation, data analytics, and data visualization. It is through my experience I knew I wanted to not only enter the field but make it my life’s work.
I am excited to teach BAN 705, Enterprise Process and Analytics because the course content and weekly modules tie-in with my expertise—particularly my experiences working at Microsoft will provide “real-world” examples for students to learn from. In the business and technology community, Microsoft is known for their data analytics prowess, process efficiency and optimization. To this end, for the majority of my time at Microsoft, I was either directly responsible for making business efforts more efficient through process automation/streamlining or I was managing a team tasked with the same directive. An overarching ideal embedded at Microsoft is the use of data analytics in every decision (often referred to as “data-decision making”) and when you apply this line of thinking with a robust business intelligence system and an intent to optimize enterprise processes you can create a competitive advantage over your competitors. I truly believe the materials this course offers will help students apply what they learn week-to-week in their professional lives.
What are you currently most passionate about in terms of your work or research?
My passion for data has evolved over the years from data extraction, data analysis, predictive/prescriptive analytics, and data interpretation. Currently, I am most passionate about data interpretation through data visualization. All data are not created equal and different visualizations are needed to best display different analysis and results. It’s fascinating when you dive into interpretation and begin to understand how most people infer different insights from the same visualization.
What excites you most about teaching in an online setting?
I am most excited about teaching in an online setting because it allows the college and program to have a longer reach. Online learning environments allow for incredible flexibility and in-turn this opens the door for more working professionals to continue their education. This means the diversity of class as far as previous education and work-experience should be vast and that will only add to the online learning community in a positive way!
What are some emerging innovations or industry trends that are changing the way you approach teaching and your research?
Technology is always evolving and therefore educators must continue to evolve as well. Many years ago, when I taught web design, I would first teach students to design a website to be viewed best on a laptop/MacBook because that is how most people would view the website. Fast-forward, now I teach students to account for the mobile user experience first. It’s a simple example but I believe this line of thinking must be continually applied to courses being taught online. The emerging innovation/industry trend that is changing my approach is video conferencing. In the past, online classes were strictly online and I would only interact with students through email or discussion boards. Now, weekly live videoconferences have taken the field by storm and positively contributed to the online learning experience. While I am an advocate for digital communication and learning, it’s inarguable that sometimes face-to-face discussions are easier and more impactful.
What are some ways the UNR curriculum aligns with your teaching and philosophies?
I am a life-long learner and believe in applying knowledge, continuous self-improvement and productivity. UNR’s curriculum aligns to this belief well because it does not call for professors to teach strictly from a textbook. Instead, we are encouraged to teach material through higher-level thinking methodologies that can not only be applied to the task at-hand but will also be useful in the “real world” in a myriad of different scenarios. Instead of teaching students how to solve a specific problem; we teach them to be problem solvers.
The online Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) from the University of Nevada, Reno can help you tap into the power of big data to drive smarter business and managerial decisions. You’ll develop a solid, in-depth understanding of blockchain, AI and other cutting-edge technologies helping to define the future of business.