Learning about innovative brand building with the chief marketing officer of Cisco Systems; a class with Wall Street analyst Andy Kessler on investing in technology stocks; an introduction to the business of wine with the COO of Round Pond Vineyards; a master class with Intuit chairman and former CEO Bill Campbell on leadership success; a series of meetings with Apple executives on product launch strategies, followed by a visit to hear Steve Jobs's keynote speech at San Francisco's MacWorld Expo—these were a few stops on the January itinerary of "TechTrek," a for-credit experience for graduate students that combines class work with two-weeks of field study in Seattle and Silicon Valley.
Designed and taught by Associate Professor of Information Systems John Gallaugher, and recently cited by the Decision Sciences Institute as one of the country's most innovative instructional programs, TechTrek, now in its fourth year, gives students direct access to business leaders. Twenty-four participating graduate students in the recent two-week trek took part in some 25 meetings in three cities. Many of the sessions were master classes and case studies with technology company founders, CEOs, partners, and vice presidents. Gallaugher also leads a TechTrek for undergraduates; its westward foray takes place this spring. "The experience is managerial rather than 'techie' focused," he says. "Students learn first-hand from executives and make valuable industry contacts."
A specialist in information systems, Gallaugher is on the editorial board of the Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations. His recent journal articles have appeared in MIS Quarterly, Electronic Markets, the International Journal of Electronic Commerce, and the Journal of Business Venturing. Since 1997 he has published The Week in Geek, a web-based digest of technology news. "The courses and seminars I teach and the research that I conduct are focused on understanding the intersection between business and technology," Gallaugher explains. "I focus on questions like, 'How do you compete when technology can be copied and the competition is a click away?' It's a fun space but it's constantly changing."