Mike Gioja ’79 had a grandfather who told him to “walk in the shoes of others” in order to gain an understanding of their lives.
“Perspective is so important,” Gioja said. “Becoming a leader is heavily affected by the understanding you gain from others and from having worked in a variety of positions.” As you access leadership roles, those experiences become invaluable, he said.
With a career spanning more than 30 years in all aspects of computer science—including more than 18 years in senior executive positions, Gioja has led countless successful product innovations and project implementations across a broad spectrum of technology.
Most recently, he is the senior vice president of product development and information technology at Paychex Inc. in Rochester, N.Y. Paychex is a $2.5 billion revenue provider of payroll, human resources, insurance and benefits outsourcing solutions for businesses, with about 12,700 employees who service 580,000 clients—a large company with high expectations for innovation in technology.
“Technology moves fast, and you need to cultivate a culture that allows for risk-taking and innovating,” he said, adding that the challenge is doing this while maintaining stability for clients. Gioja is responsible for information technology, architecture, security, product management, development and enterprise support. To keep employees engaged, he encourages workplace “hackathons,” events that focus on collaborative computer programming.
Despite his busy schedule, Gioja takes time out to serve on boards for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the SUNY Oswego School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. He has visited campus to mentor students as a panelist for the School of Business symposium in 2015 and again in fall 2016 as part of the Oswego Alumni Association’s Alumni-In-Residence program.
“I like to interact with Oswego students,” he said. “They energize me. I enjoy talking with the up-and-coming computer scientists of the world, and answering their questions about real-world applications in computer science.”
Gioja lives in Rochester, N.Y., with his wife, Tabitha. He has two children.