Alumni Success Story: IT Director at Tiara Yachts – Michelle Stonebrook ‘02

Anchoring the IT Department at Tiara Yachts

Michelle Stonebook ’02, IT Director at Tiara Yachts, is a self-proclaimed technology enthusiast. As a young girl, Michelle loved learning how things worked, and she got hooked on computers as a teenager. After high school, Michelle wanted to pursue an IT degree, but she didn’t know any women in the field or working toward a degree, and she questioned her ability to succeed in IT. So, she started her education career at Pensacola Christian College after high school, earning her degree in elementary education. After college, she moved home to be closer to family and began her career at Tiara Yachts a little over 24 years ago.

“I started working at Tiara Yachts while I was looking for a teaching job,” stated Michelle. “However I fell in love with the company as well as the work I did with computers. Tiara had an amazing tuition reimbursement program, so I decided to return to school to obtain my degree in IT.”

Beginning with accelerated classes, Michelle took two classes per semester for five years while working full-time. Michelle’s drive and passion for IT landed her a role in Tiara Yachts’ IT department before she finished her degree. After graduating with dual bachelor degrees in Systems Analysis/Application Development and PC & Network Management, she moved up in the department.

“When I started at Tiara there was only one person in the IT department,” Michelle explained.  “Now we have six full-time staff members who manage all aspects of our organization’s hardware, software, data, and communications. Our team also develops and manages the ERP system and other business software, maintains information security, and assists employees with all other IT related issues in both the Holland and Florida locations.”

“Davenport prepared me for success,” Michelle said. “I am able to directly apply what I learned in the classroom to my job today. One of my favorite experiences at DU was working on a COBOL project in class. My professor asked us to complete a software project from inception through completion, as if we were contractors. This project taught me the pattern for the software development lifecycle – investigation, analysis, design, development, testing, implementation, training, and maintenance.  While we no longer develop in COBOL, to this day I continue to make use of these patterns and processes in our development projects at Tiara.”

Michelle admits to being an adrenaline junkie who has gone skydiving, hang gliding, and on a race car ride along. She enjoys boating, riding her Harley, and traveling. She lives two miles from the Grand Haven Pier and takes every opportunity she can for outdoor adventure and travel.

Michelle is an inspiration to many women who have an interest in technology. She inspired her niece Kristen, who graduated from DU with degrees in Web Design and Development and Computer Information Systems and now has a web development role in DU’s IT Department. That is why we are extremely proud to feature her as our alumni success story.


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