IT Master

Rob Gorhum Combines Resilience and Multiple Degrees to Thrive in Career

Rob Gorhum has held many jobs throughout his life and been faced with many personal obstacles, all of which have prepared him to be ready for whatever comes his way. His tenacity coupled with three degrees from Excelsior College, has helped him to excel in his IT management career.

Gorhum, of League City, Texas, began his college career by taking classes at his local community college after he graduated high school. He didn’t complete the program, however, because he decided to join the Army. He quickly learned that to move into an officer or warrant officer position, he needed a college degree.

Gorhum researched online schools to find one that would accept his credits and military training and experience and came across Excelsior. “Excelsior was able to consolidate most of my credits into an associate degree, allowing me to finish my degree,” he says. After earning an Associate in Applied Science in Technology in 2008, Gorhum left the military, married, and began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in information technology. He finished that degree in 2012, while deployed for 19 months in Afghanistan.

Things were going well for Gorhum. He had an associate and bachelor’s under his belt and as he was starting his master’s, his wife gave birth to their daughter. But that’s when life began to get in the way. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Gorhum’s wife was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer (which she successfully beat), his mother-in-law and father both suffered strokes, and he was working up to 60 hours a week at his job.

Thankfully, Gorhum had a good experience with Excelsior’s courses and caring professors. “The instructors were easily reachable and responsive, as well as understanding when it came to life events like my wife’s fight with cancer,” he says, adding that he was able to take advantage of the flexible course structure when his days were full of hospital visits or spent at work. He says although the courses are set up at a somewhat self-learning pace, the deadlines kept him focused and on time. Through hard work and determination, Gorhum earned a master’s in cybersecurity in 2019, and now he manages the IT department of a local credit union.

The credit union where Gorhum works has 21 branches and 300 employees, and the organization’s goal is to reach $5 billion in assets, 500,000 members, and 600 team members by 2025. As IT manager, it is Gorhum’s job to help support this expansion by spearheading the use of technology. He meets with team members, prepares for the day’s work, and reviews vendors and solutions to help the organization move toward its goal. He currently leads a team of 10, but that will grow to 30 by the end of 2021. “I place as much emphasis on team leadership as I do organizational growth, as building out the team will be as pivotal to our growth as finding and implementing the correct technology,” he says.

Gorhum has always been in some sort of leadership position, ever since he was a counselor in the Boy Scouts. This continued in the Army, and in civilian jobs, he says he has held positions as team lead or tech lead. In his last job, he was an IT manager. Within five years, he says, he would like to be vice president of IT at the credit union. He has his sights set on being a CTO or CIO for an organization someday. He thinks with his education, he can get there. “I have completed three degrees with Excelsior, which shows continued professional and personal improvement. I have also had to learn time management and prioritization,” he says, indicating potential employers would like to see that on his resume.

Gorhum has experienced many ups and downs, but nothing has stopped him from earning three degrees with Excelsior and becoming successful in his field. He remembers what a boss told him when he worked at a movie theater when he was younger: “Don’t rest on your laurels” and “Don’t let your past achievements justify where you are currently.” Gorhum uses this advice daily, saying, “That helped me to realize that I have to continue moving forward and to give 100 percent on each and every task that I work on.”

More from Robert Gorhum:

What networking tips would you give to current Excelsior students?

“Make connections with the other students. Depending on the program, you will likely encounter some of the same students…You never know when you may run into a former student who may be able to provide insight, knowledge, or even be hiring for a position. LinkedIn is a great resource.”

What time management tips do you have for current students juggling activities outside their Excelsior studies?

“Make use of your calendar. Set aside blocks of time to work on school work, work, and leisure time, then make sure you actually use those blocks of time for that specifically. At the beginning of each day, write down what you want to accomplish on a list, as that will help you focus and organize your day.”

What are the most important traits/skills for someone to succeed in your field?

“Being in a technical field that changes so rapidly, continually learning about new technology is a must. People in IT [are] perceived as being poor communicators, and I think everyone knows someone in IT that would fit the stereotypical mold of the slightly socially awkward/no-people-skills technician. So stressing verbal and written communication would be the top skills needed for success.”

Best book/podcast/e-newsletter that’s relevant to your industry?

“Jock Willink’s ‘Extreme Ownership’ is a great book on leadership and is a must-read. I pass that on to anyone that wants to move into management. Brian Souza’s ‘The Weekly Coaching Session’ is another great tool that will help leaders build a stronger team.”

Master of Science in Cybersecurity Master of Science in Cybersecurity