Chris Spears (BSE / MSE '98) is the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer at Streamline VRS. Streamline Vacation Rental Software is the largest provider of short term property management software in North America and is part of the Insight Partners software portfolio.
Q: What drew you to the University of Michigan?
A. I grew up in Southeastern Michigan and I was a Michigan fan from an early age. I don't think there is any way I could have gone anywhere else.
Q: What recurring principles do you see showing up in your career?
A. There are certain skillsets that transcend whichever career path you are on: Leadership, influence, program management (i.e. getting things done), negotiation, and customer service. Focus ongoing personal development in these areas and you will have great skills in whichever path you choose.
Q: What advice would you give to current or future Tauber students?
A. A couple of things I wish I had known earlier in my career:
1. Find a mentor early in your career, a mentor who has achieved career objectives you wish for yourself.
2. Don't be afraid to change jobs and/or employers every few years - there is no career ladder anymore, it is a circular staircase. Often your skillset has a lot of value outside of your current role or organization.
3. The best jobs in life will find you. If you are not getting approached for new opportunities every 2-3 years then your network may not be large enough. Also don't say no to new roles that come knocking on your door!
4. Try to get executive/leadership experience early in your career. If you are at a large company and not in a leadership role, there may be other opportunities to do this in smaller companies, start-ups, and non-profits. Also, consider volunteering or mentoring.
Q: What would fellow alums be surprised to know about you?
A. In 2001 I trained for and completed the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. I was inspired to do this by one of my classmates while I was in the Tauber Program!