Editor's Note: The IT Leadership Awards, presented by Pride Technologies, celebrate local IT professionals who help local, regional, national and global businesses run better through engaged leadership and a commitment to innovation. For the next 5 weeks, check back each Tuesday and Thursday as we highlight one of the 20 honorees of this year's award.
Jim Umphrey didn’t get into IT via the usual route. Instead, it happened from being nice to a pretty girl. "I was a third-shift forklift operator in 1984 at an old grocery store," says Umphrey with a laugh. "I used to help this pretty woman carry in these big boxes of computer paper. I found out they had an opening for a computer operator so I applied, and after talking about motorcycles for two-thirds of the interview, I got the job."
A self-described jack of all trades, Umphrey still looks out for raw talent to help others who may be in the same spot. "I can look on a resume and see if someone has the skills to do the job, and you find out pretty quickly about that," he says. "We’re under tremendous pressure sometimes on the job but we keep a positive atmosphere with the direction of our CIO, Rob Marlow. What it really boils down to is having someone who gets along with the team. You can’t tell that from a resume."
When he’s not working, Umphrey enjoys going on trips with his wife, Mary, preferably to visit one of their five children, or to see Joshua and Lucy, their grandchildren.
In his 30 years in the field, Umphrey’s been in both the applications and operations sides of IT. He used to program in RP63 and was a consultant for 15 years in project management, networking systems and designing software, but his skill of identifying solutions serves him best in his current role for AdvancePierre, one of the largest privately owned companies in the region with $1.6 billion in annual revenue. But for Umphrey, it all boils down to his team.
"If my team’s successful, they get the glory," he says. "If they pull an oops, I take the lashing. And we try not to make the same mistake twice."
Previous honorees featured: Michael Braine, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Retail and Vision Care Services for Luxottica Retail; Jay Brown, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for UC Health; Dave Hofmeister, Chief Information Officer with Enerfab; John Kellington, CIO and Senior VP, The Cincinnati Insurance Companies; Vinit Kohli, Vice President of Management Information Systems for Sibcy Cline; Annette Marksberry, Associate Provost and CIO for Information Technologies at Xavier University; Anup Nair, Chief Information Officer of Vantiv; Ralph Watkins, Vice President of Technology for Pure Romance