Dr. Art Langer Featured in Business Standard

In a recent conversation with Business Standard, WOS founder and chairman Art Langer discussed plans to extend the Center for Technology Management’s reach to Paris and India.

Under Langer’s direction, CTM will open a center in Paris in October. “We are getting more inquiries for [that] program,” he said. “We are as well looking at planning a unit in India. We are exploring various options on where to house the center in India, and we will decide on that shortly.”

Langer emphasized a growing number of Indian technology professionals are enrolling in the Executive M.S. in Technology Management program offered by Columbia. It requires students to choose an intensive four and a half day residency plan based in Paris or New York City.

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Agents of Change

Our founder Dr. Art Langer spoke at TEDxTeachersCollege in March. The conference explored how change affects “our personal lives, our disciplines, and our societies.”

WOS a Lifesaver for Navy Vet

After a medical discharge from the Navy, David Sinclair was working as a long-haul truck driver. Now he works for Hewlett-Packard. Hear Alice Stockton-Rossini’s report for WOR news.

New Prudential Business Center to Offer Jobs to Veterans

On April 29, Prudential Financial announced it will open a technology and business operations center in El Paso, Texas. The center will provide job opportunities to military spouses, veterans and their families and members of the community.

“This creates a powerful and supportive business environment,” said Barbara Koster, head of Prudential’s Veterans Initiatives. The team coordinates companywide efforts to create and support programs for transitioning veterans, including VETalent, a training and hiring program run by WOS.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Texas is home to 1.6 million veterans, with 48,000 in the El Paso area. The center is expected to offer about 300 new jobs over the next several years.

Read more about the new center and Prudential’s Veterans Initiatives.

Success Story: Jordan Seales

Jordan Seales spends his days in a highly-secure, closed-off room, where the fogged windows can become clear with the push of a button. His job is to assess vulnerabilities to Johnson & Johnson’s IT assets—a critical role in the increasingly complex world of information security.

A little more than two years ago, Jordan had no clue where the future would lead him. But one fateful day changed everything.

Jordan’s best friend from his childhood in upstate New York, Jack Keck, had graduated from WOS’ inaugural Veterans IT training program in Newark, NJ. On Jack’s wedding day, he introduced Jordan to his new wife’s friend. Before he knew it, Jordan was moving to New Jersey to pursue a new life with his new girlfriend—and with the hope of becoming a success in the next WOS program.

Growing up in upstate New York, Jordan had made a radical choice that ended up being the best decision he ever made: In June 2011, he was accepted into the second WOS Veterans cohort in Newark.

He’ll be the first to admit the IT training wasn’t easy. “Before this program I had no IT background,” Jordan said, laughingly. “I played video games on the computer, but that was about it.”

Jordan SealesBut he knew he had to put all of his effort into the program. Though his classes were very challenging, especially the SQL database class, Jordan kept on studying, sometimes until 3 a.m., and accepted help from anybody who was ready to offer it. With all the support around him, Jordan graduated from Rutgers’ SOAR certification program in April 2012 and went to work full-time as a Delivery Manager consultant in J&J’s IT Global Services Department.

Jordan had juggled work and academic training, but he did not let go of his military values. A member from Jordan’s team at J&J informed him about Operation Gratitude, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that sends care packages to troops overseas. Jordan immediately took interest, and he found people within J&J to help him create flyers and set up tables in the cafeteria. Within 10 days, Jordan and a team of more than 40 J&J employees were able to raise $5,000 and send more than 1,000 care packages to his fellow service members overseas.

And all throughout his WOS experience, Jordan was exposed to IT leaders and perspectives that he considered priceless. Of all the guest speakers, Jordan cited Steve Bandrowczak—a seasoned CIO then serving as an executive at Avaya, now head of global shared services for Hewlett Packard—as the most influential. Before a meeting with senior management at J&J, Jordan reached out to Steve for some advice. “(Steve) said I can give him a call, and when I called, I heard a lot of background noises,” Jordan recalled. “He told me was in a busy area in New York City, but he still took the time to give me great insight.”

Jordan also remembers Brian Watson, Director of Business Outreach at WOS, for being there and always supporting him. Whenever Jordan felt overwhelmed and needed to talk to someone, Brian always made himself available. He also helped Jordan get over his fear of public speaking. Jordan remembers how hard Brian used to push him to speak to top-level executives at networking events. Today, Jordan says he’s fearless.

Outside of work and school, Jordan has completed two Tough Mudder competitions and rose to a key role in IT security at J&J. But more importantly, he married the woman he met at his best friend’s wedding, and now is a step-father to an energetic five-year-old who always keeps him on his toes.

With one life altering decision, Jordan gained full-time employment, a family, and—with his accomplishments and professional potential—a limitless future. And he knows he’s just one of many. “My one piece of advice to future veterans joining WOS is; if you think it’s too good to be true, don’t brush the idea to the side,” he
said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

“Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith,” he continued. “You learn so much about yourself, and with all of the support around you, it’ll be the best decision you ever make.”

Success Story: Derek Ecolano

Derek Ecolano’s route to becoming a full-time IT analyst was anything but direct.

From the time he was in second grade, Derek was in foster care, moving between families with his younger brother. When he reached seventh grade, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to live with his father.

Derek EcolanoAt Lincoln West High School, Derek didn’t take school very seriously. He played around and did poorly on his schoolwork. He was living a childhood he thought he missed out on while moving through so many foster families, and school was his last priority. His ninth-grade English teacher, Ms. Chapman, pointed out that he needed to do well in school for his future and that everyone has challenges.

Derek decided then that he needed to pick himself up. He didn’t want to turn out like so many inner-city kids he saw: dropping out of high school or college and settling for a minimum-wage job in a factory. He had to prove that he could overcome his past.

He was able to turn things around, and ultimately was accepted into the National Honor Society. He also played on both the football and wrestling teams at Lincoln West. And while there, Derek took an Introduction to Programming class during his senior year, one of the only technology classes that his school offered. He became interested in a career in IT, where he would be able to fix what was broken.

After all, he had some personal experience doing just that.

When he learned about WOS, he couldn’t believe that it was real. “There’s no way they could possibly do anything like that,” Derek recalled thinking. “I was very cautious going into it.”

But he also considered the upside. “Even if job placement didn’t happen, I knew the training would be good,” he said. “A program offering free training and job placement just doesn’t happen every day.”

Derek knew that he wanted to go to college and get a degree in IT and business. However, money was a big issue. He liked that in addition to the free training, WOS offers to pay tuition, of which Derek takes full advantage today: he plans to earn his Associate’s degree next year and his Bachelor’s degree in three years. He eventually wants to earn a Master’s degree.

He finished the WOS program in December 2010 and began working at Eaton as a consultant focusing on support and analysis.

Jessica Miller, the WOS program manager for Derek’s cohort, closely watched his growth throughout his academic work at University of Akron and on the job at Eaton. “His biggest issue was staying late after work to get things done,” she said. “He needed to work on time management because he did not want to leave any tasks to the following day. Derek wanted to get everything completed the day he started them.”

Derek’s biggest fear was failure. And he had come too far and overcame so many challenges to let it all fall apart then. He wasn’t going to end up in a factory.

Instead, he ended up taking the next step toward his goal: In March 2013, Eaton hired Derek as a full-time IT support analyst.

“It’s one of the best things that happened to me,” Derek said. “If I didn’t do the program, I don’t know where I would be.”

WOS Holiday Gala Highlights Growth, Success

Art LangerIt’s a rare occasion to find a military veteran or a young IT professional hobnobbing with CIOs from multiple companies or leaders from prestigious universities. But that’s exactly what happens at WOS’ annual Holiday Gala.

Held on Thursday, December 5th, the event drew more than 200 people to the Newark Club in Newark, NJ, to socialize, network, and hear from accomplished, inspiring leaders.

WOS Founder and Chairman Dr. Art Langer welcomed guests and introduced a video message from Filippo Passerini, president of global business services and CIO at Procter & Gamble and a member of the board of directors of United Rentals, a WOS corporate partner.

Other speakers included:

- Steve Bandrowczak, senior vice president for global business services at Hewlett Packard, analyzed the changing dynamics and future of IT—and how WOS’ military veterans will play a critical role.

- Dele Oladapo, VP and CIO of Prudential’s Human Resources, Law and Compliance division, spoke about the company’s long partnership with WOS and the attributes of WOS alumni working at Prudential.

- Col. Martha McSally, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), described her experiences as the first U.S. female combat pilot and first U.S. female combat squadron leader.

- Warren Kudman, CIO of Sealed Air, introduced and interviewed four WOS alumni working as consultants at his company.

Beginning at the cocktail hour and through a seated dinner, guests entered raffle drawings for free JetBlue flight tickets, a ride on the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey blimp, and several other prizes.

“I am extremely proud of how much WOS has grown,” said Dr. Langer in his closing remarks. “I would like to thank everyone for their support and for coming to celebrate with us tonight. WOS would not be the organization it is today without everyone’s support.”

Success Story: Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez has a saying he uses constantly: “Every day you wake up is a good day” Those are the words he lives by, never taking anything for granted.

But it took some bad days to get to today, where the twice-deployed military veteran is having a lot of great ones.

Anthony is the older brother to four sisters, and all were essentially raised by their grandmother, as their single mother juggled multiple jobs. Anthony was 12 when his grandmother died, and he knew then that he would have to step up to the plate.

Anthony Hernandez & Art LangerHe could’ve been recruited as a baseball player and earn a scholarship to a four-year university after he finished high school. Instead, Anthony chose to pursue—and earned—his Associate’s degree in criminal justice at Sussex County Community College in Newton, NJ.

But he learned the hard way—like so many others in the past few years—that having a degree didn’t guarantee one a job. Anthony needed an answer fast. One day, while flipping through the local newspaper, he found it.

Anthony was struck by an advertisement for the U.S. National Guard. He called the recruiter, and within a week, he learned everything he needed to know. Anthony enlisted.

In 2013, six years into his service—which included two deployments to the Middle East—he was ready for a new challenge: finding the career that eluded him after community college. Frantz Sylvain, once a section chief in Anthony’s unit and a graduate of WOS’ first veterans’ cohort, told him about the program and thought Anthony would excel in it.

He waited patiently, and eagerly, for an invite to WOS’ next program at Rutgers University-Newark. The program sounded too good to be true, but with Sylvain’s reassurance, Anthony took a chance. Not long after, he got the call: He had been invited to the competitive pre-certification phase for the next cohort.

When he got there, Anthony felt like he was out of his league. “I didn’t feel I met the educational criteria because during the pre-cert, everybody was getting up saying, ‘I have a BA in this’ and ‘I have a Master’s in that,’ and they’ve worked in IT before,” Anthony said. “At that point, I thought my chances were slim to none.”

That’s when Anthony’s determination kicked in. Years of providing for his family and serving his country gave him a mission-orientation that can’t be taught in a classroom. His mission: overcome any self-doubt and demonstrate why he was a viable candidate for the program.

They say perseverance pays off, and in this case, it did. Anthony was accepted into the program, one of 20 of the original pool of more than 40 candidates vying for a spot.

But getting in was only the first step. That determination would be put to the test during the program, with the intense work-study responsibilities demanding more and more of his time. Commuting back and forth to Newark from his home in northeastern Pennsylvania took a good deal of that time, but he adjusted his lifestyle and put in every ounce of fight he had in him.

Before he knew it, Anthony was progressing through the program and began his consulting assignment with Covanta Energy’s IT organization in Morristown, NJ.

Marc Sanzari, a systems engineer at Covanta, took Anthony under his wing and has been his biggest supporter, teaching him everything he needs to know about being a systems administrator. And despite Anthony’s lack of previous experience in IT, Marc saw just how far he had come in his training.

“Anthony had no prior IT experience at all, but within a month, he took on tasks completely on his own,” Marc said. “His positive attitude is contagious, and in the field of IT, it goes a long way.

“He said to me one day, ‘Every day you wake up is a good day,'” Marc recalled. In talking with him and hearing about his experiences, I’ve learned to look at the bigger picture and not take things for granted. I’m able to take a step back and be thankful for what I have. Ultimately, it’s his perspective and appreciation that I’ve tried to adopt myself.”

With the support of Marc, Covanta CIO Stu Kippelman and his team, and the WOS family, Anthony’s career prospects are brighter than he had imagined: “I believe that in the next five to six years I’m going to excel in my company because that’s just the person I am, that’s the drive that I have, and I’m not going to accept anything less.”