As a kindergartener, Joe Lubomirski, wrote basic computer applications on his family’s Apple IIe, a 1983 model that was touted as the most efficient Apple to date. “My dad was a computer guy and I grew up working on them,” Lubomirski says. “Computers are more than fun; they improve our lives. I knew what field I wanted to go into at an early age.”
Now an information technology professional of 20-plus years, UM-Dearborn’s director of security, infrastructure and operations continues to explore what’s newest and needed in the computing world. However, after he earned a promotion to a managerial position, Lubomirski realized that he needed to go from Number Munchers — that’s a throwback Apple II game from the same era as The Oregon Trail — to number cruncher. He also wanted to learn about leadership skills, team development and motivation, and other aspects of workplace management.
Lubomirski, seeing that top leaders often had MBAs, decided to pursue one of his own. Recognizing that UM-Dearborn’s MBA program offered online flexibility and ranked among the best in the state, he enrolled. And now, on Dec. 16, he’s looking forward to turning that tassel.
“I saw that a business education is beneficial, no matter your field. I’m an IT guy, but I wanted to better understand finances and budgets, organization culture, logistics and project management,” Lubomirski says. “An MBA could give me that.”
As he progressed in his program, he saw how the lessons he was learning directly applied to the work he was doing.
For example, he says his Organizational Behavior course helped him realize why some people offer solutions and others wait for direction. “As a manager, I value my team’s expert opinions and want to hear what they think a solution could be when we run into challenges. But some team members were hesitant to tell me what they thought,” he says. “Through the class, I learned that this could be due, in part, to cultural differences and experiences with leadership that were different from my more collaborative style. It gave me insight that I didn’t have before. I now ask for feedback differently.”
Since starting his MBA, Lubomirski says he’s continued to seek out leadership professional development opportunities. He earned a Certified Information Systems Security Professional certificate in 2021 and completed the MOR Leaders Program in 2022.
“Once you learn how others are doing things and how it can help you in what you do every day, you want to know more,” he says. “Sometimes I think about how my younger self could have benefited from knowing this stuff. It might have saved me from some growing pains as a professional. But it’s better later than never.”
Calling himself a “more seasoned” student, Lubomirski says the biggest challenge of returning to school was balancing full-time work, family time — Lubomirski and his wife Janelle have four kids ages 7 to 13 — and sleep. But he says a supportive boss, team and family, along with the UM-Dearborn staff tuition credit and a plethora of newly honed leadership skills made the journey worthwhile. And, unlike some of The Oregon Trail wagons Lubomirski guided as a kid on the family's Apple IIe, he successfully made it to his destination.
“There’s always more to learn, but I’m happy with what I’ve gained,” he says. “I’ve always known how leveraging computers can make practices more efficient and I’ve learned the same can be said about good leadership skills.”
Article by Sarah Tuxbury.