Q&A with Maurice Simpkins
When did you become interested in technology and business?
I became interested in technology at a very young age. My grandfather worked as an electrician, and my mom had a job where she built computer boards. I was fascinated with how things worked, so it naturally attracted me as well. As far as Business is concerned, I wasn't really inspired until my uncle showed me a newspaper once that showed a CEO'S pay. It was way more than any athlete I saw and pushed me to explore business and to create my own business more.
What made you want to start your own company, and what do you like most about it?
I knew I wanted to go into business for myself. I wasn't built for the 9 to 5 job design. The company was started as a result of a passion. After working in higher education IT for over 10 years, I saw a void in the industry in regards to higher education data integration. Like any coder, when you see a problem, you begin coding a solution. It was fun and exciting to have the software ready. When we began showing clients the possibilities and how it could change their work lives, it took off.
What is/are your favorite aspect(s) about your current career working with higher ed and IT?
Wow, this is a tough one for me. I'm probably one of the most passionate people about what I do (directly translated from football). I have loved higher education since my first day at Kishwaukee College back in 2007. I love the interaction with peers, the innovation, and deep down I love the fact the work we do not only makes life easier for institutions to operate, but we are enhancing the student experience as a whole. That's an impact you could never dream of.
You recently spent time with our Each 1 Teach 1 students teaching them about drone technology. What was that experience like for you?
That was golden. When Mrs. Marlo Frazier reached out to me and first planted the idea with me, I was super anxious. Mainly because I was excited about the possibilities but nervous I wouldn't have the impact needed. When we began, it was beautiful. To see some of the kids literally blossom into wonderful brain-growing innovators with just a few controls is an experience you have to experience yourself. I couldn't put it into words (maybe code, but not words). Celebrating the community and those committed to the youth is a big part of who I am.
What was it like being on the inaugural football team at CCU and seeing their success now as a national contender?
It was crazy! LOL. I showed up at CCU alongside Coach Bennett and staff even before the groundbreaking of the stadium. I watched it being built before our eyes as we were on the field preparing for the first game. The team that formed in 2002 and 2003, had experience practicing everywhere from driving ranges with HUGE DIVOTS to band practice fields, even a parking lot and tennis courts. That team with our coaches and staff was probably my favorite time in all of my years of football. Seeing CCU now and all of the attention (that is LONG OVERDUE) warms my heart. It's surreal the small school by the beach is now making big noise nationally in football. I'm pretty sure the win over the #1 ranked JSU in '05 will be easily outranked by the BYU defeat (don't call it an upset) this past season. I bleed Teal no matter the day, so it's going to always put a smile on my face to see the Chants being the Chants we know. #CINO
How did CCU and the Wall College prepare you for your career?
I remember my first day of classes. I was so intimidated, however, after meeting my professors and the chair of the IT department, I was right at home. CCU allowed me to blossom with my education and innovative thinking. My computer science classes were not difficult, but they were time-consuming, so finding the time to balance school and football was hard, but it came naturally to me.
The Wall College of Business was a totally different story because I had to work hard for my grades. I had to work with a variety of personality types, which was an adjustment because computer programming was done mostly in solitude. I not only refer back to many business classes, but I will also from time to time reach out to other Wall College alumni, most notably Patrick Hall, a teammate on the inaugural football team. One of my best experiences at CCU was working in the Wall College office with Ned Cohen, who was the director of the Wall Fellows Program at the time. He taught me so much about presentation and resume writing. I'm grateful for all of my Wall College of business experiences.
How did professional sports play a part in your current success and career path?
For me, it was the journey that taught me more than the destinations. The lessons learned from work ethic to time management. When I was playing arena football, I was still working 40 plus hours a week as a computer developer. The discipline that comes with that type of commitment translates into business quite well. But, when you add it with the passion for coding, it's a perfect combination of what drives me.
What was your favorite CCU memory?
My entire experience at CCU was memorable, from meals in the Commons to just hanging out on Prince Lawn. However, I would have to pick the football game win over JSU as one of the most memorable moments.
What advice do you have to students and/or alumni who want to start their own companies? Follow your passions. Starting a business in an area you are passionate about will never feel like work. Build relationships in college across the board. I have other CCU alumni I reach out to regularly for advice in their areas of expertise.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself, enjoying life with my wife and daughters while leading AMSA Connect (www.amsaconnect.com) to a top Higher Education Integration platform in the industry. But in that time, I would like to touch the lives of many more youths who may be inspired to follow the STEM fields in their career endeavors.