Tom Willard

Bachelor of Business Administration, finance, 2011Tom Willard

Senior information technology project manager, Helium Services

Describe what you do and how GGC may have played a role to prepare you for success in your job.
I am a client-facing senior project manager that specializes in software development information technology projects. These projects often involve both web and mobile applications that are often managed on physical and cloud servers. My background has an initial basis in technology support, and I was already a senior project manager when I came to GGC. That said, initially I was not very marketable.

I grew up with Home Depot and at the time a degree was not absolutely necessary, but as more time passed, the more it was becoming evident that a degree would be a requirement for me to grow. Nonetheless, I still did not pay attention and continued to bang my head against the ceiling until a friend asked me to go on a college tour with him.

It was that moment that I became excited about the possibility of going back to school. The tour was at Georgia State, but I ended up going to Georgia Perimeter to achieve a 2-year degree and then transferring to GGC.

GGC is where it all took off. I build lasting relationships with professors and staff. I got to create social clubs, volunteer, and even have some direct connection with senior staff. This has led to my being more marketable in my career, and my continued involvement with the GGC Alumni Association Board has led to jobs for me.

I have had more than a few hiring managers tell me that community volunteer involvement made a difference, and that’s why they hired me. It is the community involvement and continued ties to a college which shows the world that you are committed to continuous lifelong learning and growth.

Has your life changed since graduation, and if so, how has earning a degree contributed to that change?
My life has changed in many ways both personally and professionally.

From a personal perspective, my circle of friends is much larger because of my affiliation to GGC. I know and love many people that I have stayed in contact with over the years since graduation and continue to meet new people to build even more relationships.

From a business perspective, I have already said that I am more marketable, but let me tell you just how much more marketable. For those who know me, you know I do not like to brag, but I will tell you that every day I get email after email and phone call after phone call from recruiters with job opportunities, and I have also been recruited by several past managers. I know much of this ties to my experience as a senior project manager, but there is also quite a lot that ties back to my experience at GGC and earning my degree.

Why do you give back to GGC through donations and volunteering your time?
I give back because I want others to succeed. I get excited helping others start and continue their journeys. In fact, each time I come back to commencement, it is like I am graduating all over again with a new commitment to my life-long journey, and GGC is the magic that helped to make a lot of that possible.

In addition, my going to GGC inspired my niece to go to GGC and become a teacher, and this gives me one more reason to support GGC. I am so proud of what other GGC graduates can accomplish and I love being a part of the inspiration.