Former distinguished alumni award recipient James Blankenship, ‘95, has set a goal to shape the ever-changing world in technology. Read more about his journey as the vice president of information systems at Arbor Financial Credit Union:
Tell me about yourself!
My passion is leveraging technology to enable cross-functional business areas. I have been in the technology field since I left the military and graduated from Davenport with a degree in Computer Information Systems in 1995. Throughout my career, I have had many roles within the technology industry and recently joined the executive team as vice president of information systems at Arbor Financial Credit Union.
Why did you pick DU?
I had an interest in analytical things like math and science and DU offered a great program for non-traditional students like myself. As a former military member, I feel that Davenport met all of my educational needs. The teachers and courses were accommodating to my schedule as a student who had a family and a job. It was a sacrifice, but in the end, it was worth it! I am still in touch with people I went to school with and supported me at Davenport.
What do you do in a nutshell?
I am responsible for the strategic planning and visionary goal setting for information technology. I primarily lead two departments — information systems and core systems. One primary objective for 2018 is to improve service and experience through the use of member-facing technology. Specifically, we are evaluating new capabilities and innovations offered by various digital financial platforms including online and mobile solutions.
Tell us about why you received the alumni award?
While I was in college, I volunteered for a local nonprofit organization that required assistance installing a new computer network across their facilities. I spent many days and nights to ensure a successful implementation. Since then, I have remained active in volunteering within my community. Today, I coach pole vaulting at a local high school where I have helped many student-athletes learn technique, exceed personal goals, and even set new records.
What is your passion?
I found my passion in technology while taking classes at Davenport. I also find it very rewarding to apply innovative ideas and technology to real-life business requirements. This might be a little cliché, but I love being able to leverage technology to improve people’s lives and their ways of working.
Who inspires you?
When I was at Davenport the instructors inspired me. They were great mentors and friends. In the workplace, I am inspired by the people with whom I work closely. The culture and leadership at Arbor Financial Credit Union inspires me on a daily basis. They all make me want to be the best I can be in my role. Our president and CEO, Julie, is an amazing leader who challenges me in a positive way that helps me become better at what I do, which in turn helps everyone else as well.
What do you do when you don’t work?
I really value spending time with my family. I am a proud father of three sons; two college graduates and my youngest still in high school. I also play guitar and have a YouTube channel where I share my music.
What would you tell the students at DU?
I would tell DU students who are going into IT that you have to be well-rounded. A good education and technical knowledge are very important, but I feel it must be well balanced with your ability to apply it in practical ways. Perhaps most important, is your ability to establish great relationships with others. That, to me, is the biggest asset you can have.