In 2001, as dot-com businesses were struggling, a group of Notre Dame alumni working in Silicon Valley decided to pull together and launch the ND Tech Forum. Under the leadership of Amy Guarino (’83), the group held its first meeting that September. Shortly after, Notre Dame Business wrote an article to introduce the group to the College community. This past September, the group traveled to Notre Dame to hold Its first meeting on campus.
We decided to catch up with the ND Tech Forum and several of the current members.
The ND Tech Forum
The ND Tech Forum began because the founders recognized that most ND alums in mid-career could not justify making time for primarily social alumni outings. They also recognized that, given the right opportunity, the ND alumni network could offer business and career support. Feedback consistently confirms they were correct on both counts—alumni feel that they can justify their time away from family because they recognize the benefit to their careers and businesses.
The group, which is primarily composed of alumni who are mid-career, attracts a broad diversity of majors and hosts events quarterly. Events range from single speakers, to speed networking, to Demo Day. Demo Day offers ND alumni who are executives in local startup companies the opportunity to make a 10-minute presentation and then request assistance from the club. Assistance requests range from ideas about how to better brand the company, to identifying prospective partners, customers or employees.
With an increased interest in entrepreneurship, the ND Tech Forum hopes to expand both its outreach and expertise around startups to alumni globally. The members would like to offer a mix of virtual presentations and live local events. They also would like to collaborate with alumni who are interested in tech and startups to better understand how the Forum can leverage the skills and talents that are unique to Silicon Valley.
The club hosts undergraduate and graduate student groups from Mendoza and the ESTEEM master’s program during spring and fall breaks, introducing them to alumni involved in tech and setting up company briefings.
Amy Guarino (’83) is one of the group’s founding members. She is the vice president of business development for Marketo, running the partner and alliance program. The company provides business-to-business marketing automation software that helps companies build a highly efficient sales and marketing engine. Commenting on the Tech Forum, Guarino says, “The ND Tech Forum has allowed me to combine my love for Notre Dame and my love for business in a way that benefits and helps fellow alumni and brings the University closer to Northern California.”
Guarino and her husband, who have two sons, are involved with Elizabeth House, a transitional home for homeless women and children.
Andy Banton (MBA ’94) is the president of Gil’s Gourmet, a 21-year-old gourmet food company in Monterey, Calif. Banton is working to grow the high-end retailer in a difficult economy and a tough agricultural environment. His involvement in the ND Tech Forum “offers an opportunity to interact with dynamic, intelligent risk-takers. I find myself feeding off their optimism, experience and can-do attitudes. In short, it can motivate me, which I then take back to my workplace,” Banton says.
Banton serves as vice president of the Sand City Seaside Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Nan, have two children and live in Carmel.
Megan Hanley (’90) is the general manager of Global Media at Microsoft, overseeing the company’s advertising, media strategy and investments across all brands and geographies. Although she currently works for one of the largest technology companies, Hanley shares that she’s an entrepreneur at heart.
Prior to joining Microsoft, she oversaw direct marketing at Esurance. Her tenure at Esurance helped her to discover that her passion is in building businesses through consumer-focused, media-led strategies. Working at Microsoft has allowed her to follow her passion on “a massive global scale, which is a humbling and amazing learning opportunity,” she says.
Hanley joined the ND Tech Forum in the early days when it was a unique community of like-minded people trying to do something that hadn’t been done before. Today, she believes, the ND Tech Forum has taken the passion of those early years to a larger audience to build a community that only Notre Dame can.
Liz Panzica Newman (’91) was most recently the vice president of marketing at ZELTIQ, a medical device startup in Northern California. She was responsible for driving companywide marketing communication efforts as the company launched in multiple markets. The company’s CoolSculpting procedure recently received FDA clearance for fat reduction. Newman says that the ND Tech Forum offers a unique opportunity to connect the ND community in the Bay Area back to the University.
Newman and her husband Michael (’93) have three children.
John Younger (’85) who describes himself as a recovering software developer, is the founder and CEO of Accolo, a cloud recruiting company that he started in 2000. Although Accolo was recognized as one of the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies, the pressures to evolve the business resulted in Younger firing himself in early 2009. Following time away, he returned as CEO, instituted major changes and in 12 months, increased net income, gross margin and client retention.
Younger says, “I think that self-reflection with a high degree of intellectual honesty and the courage to reinvent oneself is at the core of many successful entrepreneurs … most entrepreneurs have strong beliefs with high confidence. That’s what helps an entrepreneur to animate and grow a company in spite of all the obstacles that arise.”
“The ND Tech Forum is a great organization that not only helps connect Notre Dame alumni, but also serves as a fantastic learning experience. Speakers and events provide unique insights and access,” he says.
Responding to the need to consider the impact of one’s choices on future generations, Younger drives an electric car, and lights, heats and cools their house with electricity produced from 35 solar panels.
Dominic Paschel (’04) led SuccessFactors initial public offering in 2007 and is the director of Global Public and Investor Relations, overseeing the company’s global corporate strategy and communications. In 2009, Paschel helped launch SuccessFactor’s Business Execution (BizX) software, which is delivered through the cloud. The software improves business alignment, team execution and people performance to drive results for companies of all sizes.
Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth.
Paschel views the ND Tech Forum as bringing together the very drivers of technology—software, venture capitalists, technology, investment bankers—to share what is working and to exchange ideas. He sees technology as the most fertile ground for innovation and says that the ND Tech Forum offers tremendous opportunity for everyone who wants to participate.
Kevin Maddock (’87) is the senior vice president of Global Sales for Rimini Street, a third-party software support and maintenance provider that offers enterprise software licensees a choice of software support and maintenance providers. Maddock, who works with the marketing team to define and prioritize marketing campaigns and region initiatives, is responsible for building and leading a sales organization to increase market share and revenues. He is a member of the executive team and serves as an ambassador for Rimini Street at conferences and events such as the ND Tech Forum’s recent event on campus, where he was a presenter.
Participation in the ND Tech Forum provides Maddock with the opportunity to share his experiences with students, something that he is passionate about doing. “The Notre Dame community has not been as well marketed and represented in the Bay area as other academic communities,” Maddock says. The activities of the ND Tech Forum are increasing awareness and visibility while building camaraderie among alumni.
Juan C. Jones (’86) is the senior vice president of technical support services for Oracle North America. In this role, he has oversight for all aspects of Enterprise Service Management and Support Renewal Sales. Jones leads a team of service executives and technical staff who manage relationships with several of Oracle’s customers. In addition, he leads the Support Renewal Sales team responsible for selling and renewing $7.5 billion in maintenance revenue. He serves on the Technology Services Industry Association Advisory Board.
ND Tech Forum “is a great way to stay connected to ND alumni and leaders in technology,” Jones says, and the “networking connections are enormously helpful given the interconnected world that is technology.” The group’s meetings also allow for a wealth of innovation to be exposed and tapped through the exchange of ideas and the organization helps create links that allow its members to give back to the Notre Dame community.
Jones resides with his wife, Lisa, and two sons in the San Francisco Bay Area where he is on the Board of Directors of Canyon Creek Little League and also coaches soccer and basketball.