Mrs. Catherine E. Kozik
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
"As a senior executive, many people ask me if I still use my engineering degree," says Catherine Kozik, chief information officer and senior vice president of Tellab’s Global Information Systems. "Was it ‘worth it’ to put in all of that hard work in college" My answer is, ‘Absolutely’. I practice engineering every day—solving complex multivariate problems is the crux of any position in industry today. The education that I received at Purdue taught me how to find the right resources and the right tools to solve problems in the most effective and efficient manner."
Kozik is responsible for strategically managing the information technology that serves Tellabs’ business operations in more than 80 countries; for the development and support of the company’s global business applications, including the SAP R/3 software; as well as worldwide support of Tellabs’ voice and video services, LANs, WANs, desktop PC and UNIX systems.
She has learned that a Purdue engineering degree is a ticket to instant credibility wherever you go in the world. "A Purdue engineering degree says that you have the capacity to learn and respond to difficult challenges. It says that you have the logic to make the right decision (after all, you chose Purdue, right"). It says that you come from a long line of successful people, and that you have been trained by the best. It also says that you have what it takes to be successful in business—you know how to work as a part of a team, you know how to manage deadlines, and you know how to prioritize (let’s see—to party or study")."
Kozik, the first person to be named CIO with Tellabs, is a passionate supporter of women in the engineering profession. She frequently speaks to organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and Chicago Women in Technology. One of the questions she is commonly asked is how being a woman has impacted her ability to succeed. Her answer is, "In my mind, my success has very little to do with being a woman, and everything to do with being a human being. You have to remember that no matter how far you move up in the organization, it’s people who get the job done, people who have families, who have career aspirations of their own, people who want to be recognized for their work. As long as I treat people with the same fairness and balance that I look for in my life, I know I will get the best out of them that is possible."
Her many memories of her days at Purdue include basketball at Mackey Arena: "There’s nothing like it! Watching Michael Jordan play at the United Center wasn’t half as exciting as watching Keady’s kids come from behind and win." Two professors Kozik remembers fondly are Dr. Dave Meyer and Professor Hayt, whose approach, she says, was "always insert human first, technology second. It was clear that he put the students first."
Kozik has been married to her favorite Boilermaker, Jack, for 20 years. After meeting in EE202 in the spring of 1981, Jack and Cathie have been a dynamic EE duo, supporting each other and both finding a way to be successful in their careers (Jack is a director with Lucent Technologies) and as parents. They have two great children: Liz, 13, and Mike, 11, both of whom have their own computers and Web sites. The family loves biking and computing together, and uses their annual retreat to Captiva Island in Florida to watch the wildlife, swim, and reconnect.
Kozik concludes her Purdue reminiscence by reflecting, "Who knew it would be ‘cool’ to be an engineer?"