Q. Did your birth order -- third of eight children -- affect how you approach work?
A. Being one of eight made me fairly competitive. There were only so many mashed potatoes to go around the table. Those who played with their peas lost out.
It also impacted big things like college. I was eligible for an Illinois State grant, as were my two older brothers. But there was a dollar limit for families.
By the time I got in line, the dollars available for my tuition were pretty limited. It became a lesson in self-reliance.
Q. How did you get interested in computers?
A. I was mesmerized by a movie, "Colossus," a story about how some smart American designed a supercomputer. His counterparts in Russia had done the same thing. The computers talked to each other and took over the world.
The possibility and promise of that movie absolutely intrigued me. So when I started college, I naturally took engineering course work in computer hardware and software.
Q. Where did you pick up the skills to transfer from computers to finance?
A. At International Minerals and Chemical, my initial computer work was all technical applications. One executive who saw my work asked me to do a financial simulation for his capital project.
I did, and the next thing you know I started getting invited to all these big meetings with senior executives. I became fascinated with finance. That's when I decided to return to school for an MBA.
Q. How did you get to Affy Tapple?
A. After I left consulting, one of my banking friends introduced me to Stuart Sorkin, himself a former American National banker. Stuart owned Affy Tapple and was looking for help in finance and operations.
My combination background fit the bill and allowed Stuart to focus on sales and marketing, which he really enjoys.