By Jennifer Erb
2017-06-262017-06-27https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
When Robert Johnston came to WVU, he thought he would major in accounting or finance, but transferred to Engineering because he enjoyed science which was limited in his business program. While he initially chose to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering, he transferred to Industrial Engineering because he liked the business aspects of the major.
While an undergrad, Rob was fortunate to have an undergraduate Engineering internship in addition to two internships with Burroughs-Wellcome. When he graduated, he went to work for an entrepreneurial start-up founded by a fellow WVU IE graduate. “I was in an inside sales role,” Rob explained. “But I grew tired of doing the same thing every day.”
Rob’s career focus became clear when he went to work for KPMG, where he found his passions: technology and consulting. At KPMG, Rob worked his way into more senior roles for various Government and Fortune 500 clients. He was recruited from KPMG by USInternetworking (USi), where his primary role was to establish the Boston office and build a high performance team along with a robust eCommerce client list.
Rob became very comfortable in taking calculated career risks. “Early in my career, I was being offered amazing opportunities with increasing level of responsibility,” Rob says. “Few of my career moves were planned but rather an opportunity that was presented through my network. What really helped me was the fact that I was comfortable with the unknown. Learning the technology came easy in most cases. What set me apart from others was my ability to translate customer needs into actionable requirements for the technology teams. I became a translator and that turned out to be an extremely valuable skill set.”
Rob is currently Corporate Vice President for Strategy and Planning for a Fortune 100 Company (New York Life). In his current role, he is helping to introduce technology solutions that support data analytics, business intelligence, and data visualization. “Every industry has become very data centric,” Rob says. “IEs are very well prepared to be at the forefront of this trend.”
Rob advises students to “take calculated career risks especially early in their careers. Keep an open mind and make sure you’re comfortable being uncomfortable. Always know your customer and put them first – the rest is easy.”
Rob Johnston is currently the Head of Technology Strategy and Planning for multiple technology LOB’s at New York Life in Dallas, TX. His primary function is to help develop the groups’ operational and strategic goals and drive portfolio execution to include financial performance and reporting.
Rob joined New York Life in 2015 after 7 years at Transamerica where most recently he served as the Vice President of Strategy and Platforms where he supported Transamerica’s direct to consumer digital strategy. Prior to joining Transamerica, Johnston held a series of leadership positions with Comprehensive Software Systems (CSS) and USinternetworking (USi). His experience ranges from working with unfunded start-ups to Fourtune 100’s and Big 4, KPMG. Rob is a terrible golfer, a great skier and enjoys spending every minute he can with his daughter.
Rob holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial Engineering from West Virginia University and an MBA from the University of Iowa with concentrations in Strategy and Finance.