Ever since he graduated from St. Cloud State University, Kent Weis has continued to focus on staying in close contact with his alma mater.
Weis, who graduated from St. Cloud State in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a minor in data and voice communications, remains connected with the University he graduated from over two decades ago.
“The reputation of the school has really grown in a positive way, which I appreciate because I want it to be recognized as one of the best schools in the world,” Weis said. “When I was going to school there, it was fun. I really enjoyed the environment and camaraderie on and off campus. I go back and it’s gorgeous, it’s a school that is really advancing.”
Weis is currently an IT director at Optum, which is the fast-growing part of UnitedHealth Group and is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business.
Over the years post-graduation, Weis has maintained contact and has worked with St. Cloud State students within the computer science and information systems programs to help promote the Optum brand and serve as a mentor while conducting lectures and info sessions for students in those programs. He acknowledged the strengths of the technology programs at the university and often works to help hire St. Cloud State students out of those programs to join Optum.
At Optum, where he has worked for 15 years, Weis wears a lot of different hats at the company while primarily serving as a leader of teams, culture ambassador and is responsible for leading 11 cross-platform IT support areas, among other duties.
“Every day I am doing something different. One of the things I really liked (when I went to St. Cloud State) was that I took a lot of business-focused electives to round myself out on the business side,” Weis said. “the opportunity that you have at the Herberger Business School, not only was I getting a great education in business, but that has helped me in my career today.”
Now residing in Maple Grove, Weis often comes through the St. Cloud area to this day with having a cabin in Alexandria and playing in his band CandyStore.
Journey from St. Cloud State to Optum
Weis’ journey to his current position at Optum started during his time at St. Cloud State.
While attending the university and working towards earning his degree, he worked at Marco as an IT technician until he graduated in 1998.
“That really helped me and they help college-age students develop and gain experience,” Weis said. “I share that information with the students that I work with there still today.”
After Marco, Weis worked at Honeywell as a LAN administrator where he supported 1,000 servers and later worked at Geek Squad, where he was the 60th employee hired by the company, before landing with Optum and UnitedHealth Group.
Throughout his 15 years with Optum, Weis has held titles such as lead technology analyst, IT manager, senior IT manager and IT director.
“I work at leading through influence and have played a lot of different roles here,” he said. “I do a lot of work trying to improve leadership among leaders on the team.”
Weis said he still holds fond memories from his time in St. Cloud and continues to utilize the skills he learned at St. Cloud State.
Developing a Pipeline for St. Cloud State Students
Weis has generated a motto that he passes along to the people he works with, both to the students at St. Cloud State as well as others.
“I’m here to develop people and make them the best they can be,” Weis stated.
Through continuing to work with students at St. Cloud State, staying involved in the technology programs and elsewhere, Weis has been able to push that message out to everyone he connects with. An opportunity he has greatly enjoyed throughout the years.
“There’s a great bunch of faculty there. It’s a great group to work with,” he said. “It’s interesting to work with my professors that I had when I went to school there. It’s fantastic and I have developed some relationships with the newer professors and have continued relationships with some of the ones that were there when I was there.”
While staying involved with a handful of programs at his alma mater, Weis is also a big supporter of KVSC, an avid listener, advocate and donor to the network.
“I’m a big supporter of the radio work that they do at St. Cloud State,” he said. “People here (at Optum) hear how great the students are at St. Cloud State and we hire a lot from there. I talk a lot about St. Cloud State.”
Since he started at Optum, Weis said the company has hired around 500 St. Cloud State graduates, mainly coming through the technology programs.
He has also developed and launched an e-mentoring program with the various technology clubs on campus, where students and St. Cloud State alumni at Optum email back and forth to stay in touch and talk about their career paths as well as what it’s like to be in the career field.
“We started doing that program with about 15 Optum student mentors and 15 St. Cloud State mentees, giving students the opportunity to get closer to Optum employees and help them with their career goals and paths,” Weis said. “It provides them with another avenue to connect with students and for our team to help give back in another way.”
And even though he is no longer attending St. Cloud State, Weis continues to give back and pass his passion along to the next generation of students at the University to help them unleash their own possibilities and opportunities in the future.
“It’s important to me,” Weis said. “It applies in my children, in myself, in the students I work with on campus and just in leadership in general.”