Remarks by Nenad Jukić, PhD, 2014 Award Winner
First I want to thank my wife Maria for believing in me more than I ever believed in myself. I also want to thank my kids Maja, Niko and Boris for being here, and putting on nice clothes and behaving themselves on a Sunday afternoon when they would normally do neither of those things.
I am grateful to Geri and Matt, the best mother and father in law a man could have, and my wonderful American parents Linda and Lee Albritton without whom I simply would not be here.
And finally I want to thank my brother Ivan (who flew all the way from Croatia to be here with me today), my twin Boris, my American brothers William, Matthew, Pressly and Michael, my late Mother Ruza who would have been so proud today, and my dad Drago back in Croatia.
One day during my early years at Loyola I was riding on the “L” reading The Economist and I read this article quoting ideas by Prof. George Kaufman from the School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. Shortly afterwards, I attended a panel where Prof. Tassos Malliaris from the School of Business at Loyola University Chicago absolutely dazzled the audience while debating several Federal Reserve economists. Such things are so inspiring for a young faculty member. From my first year at Loyola, to this day, I have tried to make myself worthy of working at the same school as these two previous winners of this award, and other many great scholars at Quinlan.
I work at an amazing department – the ISOM Department at Quinlan School of Business. One of my colleagues started a nationally-ranked master’s program, co-founded a center, taught wonderfully and published great publications all before he even got tenure. Another one just got a $350,000 grant from the NSF while in his second year at Loyola. Another one wrote one the best known Project Management textbooks used all over the world. Another one spent a decade as a very successful leader and strategist at Accenture while at the same time picking up a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon before he joined Loyola where he brings tremendous insight and wisdom to every class that he teaches and every student that he interacts with. Another colleague brought in more than 30 paying member companies to one of our centers in less than 3 years since he joined Loyola. One of my former students became a stone-cold top-of-the line expert in Big Data technology, working for the top echelons of industry and government. He is very busy and very, very successful – and yet he is also now an enthusiastic adjunct faculty member in our department. And so on and so forth. We have such dedicated tenure-track, clinical, and adjunct faculty in our department. And we are led by a supportive and wise chair. And we also get along very nicely with each other. So, I would like to give a big shout out to the ISOM department.
I am far from perfect (as anyone who has had to sit in a meeting with me can attest) but I do think I found a perfect career for myself. Over the years I have achieved some successes in my career, but the thing that I take the most pride in, is the over-90% placement rate upon graduation for our students majoring in Information Systems. In fact, both the placement rate and starting salaries of our graduates are higher than the average of top Information Systems programs nationwide. I am so proud of our students and their successes. At Loyola they learn Information Systems topics and skills very well, and they are able to compete in interviews with anyone from anywhere, but I also think they bring something else to the table.
The basic Ignatian premise of making a difference as “persons for others” certainly makes one a better person and a better member of society. In the realm of information systems that same basic Ignatian premise is also a highly sought after business skill. Much of the work in our field is done in complex and challenging group projects. Competent people that truly embrace helping, serving, and working with, others, without constantly evaluating their own personal benefit and gain, are the most valuable and eventually the most successful people in our field.
Group projects are never fair and someone always ends up doing more while others do less. It takes confidence and wisdom to not be a “what is in it for me” type a person, but instead be a “let me do my best and get things done” type of person and trust the meritocratic nature of our business. I think that our student’s enthusiasm, honesty, and a genuine desire to do good work, really comes through when they go out there in the world and serves them very well throughout their careers.
The other day Yahoo and the Washington Post published an article titled “I studied business and programming, not English. I still can’t find a job.” In this article a young man who claims that he graduated at the top of his class in information systems at Penn State laments that he can’t get a job. Well, I thought to myself, buddy you should have come to Loyola. You would have had a job, and you would have also learned not to start two sentences in a row with “I” (unless of course you are writing an award acceptance speech).
Let me finish by saying how proud I am to be a faculty member here at Loyola and how humbled I am by this award. I serve on the FDRC university committee and every year I see the amazing work of so many Loyola professors across many disciplines at our university. I dedicate this award to all of them. Thank you all very much.