CIO Adds to His Knowledge Base

MSIT Part-Time student Ademola Popoola talks about the benefits and challenges of balancing work and school

Ademola (“Dayo”) Popoola calls himself an educational technology leader and problem solver. He’s spent nearly four years as the Chief Information Officer at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL. During that time, he realized he had a problem of his own to solve.

Ademola (“Dayo”) Popoola“With the rapid pace at which technology is moving, I wanted to ensure my knowledge did not become stale,” Popoola says. “I wanted access to education based on current and prevailing technology themes and issues facing organizations of every ilk.”

To get that educational access, Popoola enrolled in the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) part-time program option at Northwestern University. After recently completing his first year in the program, Popoola took time to talk about what he’s learned, the challenges he’s faced and the advice he would give to other professionals considering the MSIT part-time program option.

What was it about the MSIT program that appealed to you?

There were four things: a world-renowned university, a part-time course schedule with classes held all day, once/week on Saturdays, highly qualified instructors with over a century’s worth of industry exposure and experience, and the physical proximity to home and work.

Now that you've completed your first year in the program, what are the two or three biggest things you've learned along the way?

  1. Time management is of tantamount importance. As a part-time student with a demanding position and a family at home, juggling diverse responsibilities and finding balance can be a challenge.
  2. Support systems are important, primarily, the family component. Without the support of my spouse, there is no possible way I would have made it through the first year.
  3. Teamwork, particularly knowing how the dynamics of your MSIT study group work and being aware of when to step back and follow and when to step up to lead.

Have there been lessons you've learned in the program that you've been able to already implement in your day-to-day job?

Professor Malthouse’s Data Mining and Business Intelligence course was entirely enlightening and exposed me to a new way of looking at data.

How do you hope your MSIT experience will help you professionally moving forward?

My hope is the MSIT program will help to ‘update’ my fundamental knowledge base going forward. Networking will also help as I forge new friendships and leverage the Northwestern community.

How hard is it to balance work and school?

Time management is a challenge. However, with good planning skills and a solid support system at home and work, it can be successfully overcome. Be open with your family, employer, and friends, and you will find that once your plight is understood by those factions, making it through the program will be easier. Not easy, but easier!

What advice would you give to someone considering the part-time MSIT program?

Honestly gauge your ability to wholly commit to the program. Ensure your family, if you have one, and your employer are aware of what you’re about to embark on. If you’re a lone wolf, the program will not work for you. It is an absolute requirement that you both work and play well with others.