Alumni Spotlight: November 2019 – Patrick Sterner, M.S.

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Principal at Alitek

What was/is your area of study?

I graduated in 2003 with an MS in Computer Science, a BS in Physics, and a BA in Mathematics.  As an undergraduate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, I contributed to research in the experimental particle physics group. Later, I taught introductory programming courses and participated in research geared toward making technology more accessible in our daily lives. Looking back, I credit the logic and problem-solving skills I learned at KU for enabling me to achieve my career goals. 

What is your current career or position title?

Since 2003, I have worked as a professional consultant, specializing in Enterprise Information Management. I began my career as a developer and progressed to an architect role and then to being a project leader. Currently, I am a Principal at a Houston-based consulting firmed called Alitek, where my primary responsibilities are to manage client accounts, ensure the successful delivery of projects, and develop new business.

Alitek is an information management consulting company made up of seasoned IT professionals with diverse backgrounds, ranging from CTOs, Directors, and Physicists to deep technical roles such as Technical Architects, Lead Developers, and System Administrators. We have a mix of Fortune 500 IT and consulting experience. With this diverse set of backgrounds, we are able to solve information-related business challenges and provide long-term support and continued business involvement to make our customer’s ongoing operations successful.

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What do you do?

I work with customers to deliver innovative technical solutions to meet unique information management challenges. My strength is helping customers understand their requirements and how best to leverage available technology to improve efficiency, maximize compliance with standards, and simplify business processes. In tackling complex information ecosystems, I rely on the deductive reasoning and data analysis techniques I learned in the KU Physics and Astronomy Department. Similarly, in helping to architect solutions, I leverage the design skills I learned in the KU Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department.

What is your favorite aspect of your career?

As a consultant, I work with customers from a broad range of industries – Finance, Energy, Oil & Gas, Health Care, Education, etc. Every customer has its own unique business challenges. The best part of my job is the variety of experiences. There is no shortage of new challenges and opportunities for growth. In some cases, we are able to adapt a solution from one industry and apply it to another. In other cases, we are called to innovate. From this diverse background, we are able to bring skills to bear that not only focus on the initial implementation of the solution, but also the long-term support and business involvement required to make ongoing operations successful. Another satisfying aspect of my job is the sense of teamwork. Our teams tend to be small groups of highly experienced professionals. Working together, we are able to accomplish more than any of us could individually, while still valuing each person’s unique contribution.

What advice do you have for current graduate students?

My advice for current graduate students is not to be too concerned if your career doesn’t develop exactly as you planned. My personal priorities have changed significantly over the years. Although I am still fundamentally the same person, the things I value today are not the same as they were when I graduated in 2003. For example, I tend to focus less on my own individual success than I do on the success of my team. Similarly, I have a much greater appreciation for the value of relationships. The best thing you can do in your early career is to focus on the task at hand, do it to the best of your ability, and build strong relationships with your coworkers. If you do, you will establish a reputation for excellence that will open up opportunities for you down the road.