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TechVibe Talks to fivestar* and Robert Morris University

Interview by Audrey Russo and Jonathan Kersting


TechVibe Radio is back on air at ESPN 970 AM every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from the Huntington Bank Studio.


Enjoy a splendid Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee and your favorite tech talk show -- TechVibe Radio on ESPN 970 AM!

Hear from Robert Morris University President Dr. Chris Howard about the Next Century Scholarship. Yep, Netflix Founder Reed Hastings donated $3 Million to fund 20 scholarships around tech!

Lou Camerlengo and Doug Campbell will step up to the mic to detail fivestar*'s SalesForce chops. Find out how they can help you maximize SalesForce to run a lean, mean business operating machine.

Put the percolator on auto drip and get your favorite coffee mug ready to tune in and geek out with us.


Sometimes, Audrey, I really wish we could play the clips of our show that people cannot hear. Because we had a conversation record button.

But we could show people some key roles we could look we could let people know about these two handsome guests that are coming on right now.

Yeah, but I have nothing to show them. We were talking about Long Island accent, which I thought was just a dramatic conversation. I was like, Man, it's great to find people in Pittsburgh who have who have our roots, because Pittsburghers are all about their own roots. So when I talk to the guy like Lou, yep, we get to talk about you know how we were raised?

Exactly. And I thought it's kind of fun. I wish we could show that to our crowd. But we have Lou Camerlengo here and Doug Campbell from fivestar* leaves no stranger to the show we've had him on in the past year. If I'm not mistaken, Lou, and you guys are always innovating new and fun stuff at Five Star. That's what we're here to talk to you about today, especially with Doug and I want to welcome you guys to the show. And thank you for taking the time to be with us.

Yeah, glad to be with Jonathan and Audrey. It's always great to see and talk with and I guess, close to my 24th year in Pittsburgh. So I guess I'm I'm almost being close to almost being a Pittsburgher at this.

Okay, so Lou, and Doug, why don't you tell us what you're up to who you are what you do, because you really your footprint extends quite wide. And I think people really would benefit from understanding about your company.

Sure. And I appreciate the opportunity. So as I mentioned, fivestar* are actually going to celebrate our 24th anniversary at the end of March. Very long story short, I met Dave, outside of Pittsburgh, we work together for about a year and a half. And when we decided to open up Five Star we we chose Pittsburgh, because that was Dave's hometown. So I relocated here when we started the company. And our primary focus is on consulting, design and development for custom software and web applications and work with a pretty wide range of organizations, both in industry and focus on working with workforce development organizations, Community College, future of work. And last year, we actually started a new practice in Salesforce, which is a new area for us, because we just started seeing through a lot of conversations, even though we do mostly custom development, you know, we started seeing more and more conversations were more of a platform or an application would be a better solution. And that's always been our philosophy. I mean, we don't try and kind of fit everything into what we do, we try and expand to meet the needs of the marketplace. So we established a partnership with an organization I can talk a little bit about in a bit, primarily to focus on Salesforce. And that's what led us to bringing Doug Campbell on board. So Doug has experience with Salesforce, both from kind of the technical and business side. So he came on board mid year to kind of grow, grow, grow the practice, and now we're starting to get some traction with it and you know, getting out there. So it's been fun, you know, learning some some new things. So it's been kind of an interesting six months.

So wait, so let's back up What were you thinking a quarter of a century ago? thinking like you would move, like here we are almost 25 years later?

Well, first I thought it'd be living at the beach by now.  But no, I mean, Dave and I, our philosophy was built to evolve. In other words, we we always felt that we would want the company to be dynamic. And I think that's still why even after 24 years, it's still interesting and exciting because when we actually started, we were primarily focused on interactive training, design and development, because that was our more or less our background coming into it. But very quickly into the history of the company. Our clients started asking us about software development applications, particularly in Pittsburgh, because at that point, that's when the you know, the city was starting to transfer over more from mainframe to client server. So and through that evolution, we are now 100% software development, but I've always tried different things broadening and different tools, different positions. So yeah, I mean, I think we, we didn't really know where we would be kind of 20-25 years down, but we knew it wouldn't be the same company, other than kind of those core principles. I mean, you know, we're definitely still kind of good to great people. I mean, at the, at the heart of it, you know, focus on what's most important, and then kind of build build around that.

Yeah, I can say that. And particularly with your civic engagement. Yeah. Hi, Doug. And hello, howare you?You are from the region, right?

I am. Yeah, I grew up in a small little river valley town called Brownsville. So I've been Pittsburgh for most of my life, spent some time outside the country after high school and college, but then around Pittsburgh for most of my life. Yeah.

Well, that's great. So now you have this opportunity working with Lou, and five star. And so so what are you up to? What do you tell it give us your pitch?

Well, I, as Lou had mentioned, I came on with Five Star back in the middle of last year. And really, it came about through another relationship that both of us have had with another business partner. I ran a business accelerator outside of Pittsburgh, which is a nonprofit organization for about 10 years. And when I took over that organization as CEO, one of the things that I quickly found was that all of our information was all over the place. We had information in Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PDF documents at the time, even you know, it was it was information on different computers, different desktops, some of our board members had information, and so on, and so on. I even had information on older computers that I needed to have clearly turned on, in order to get the information and it was just a mess. So we quickly realized that we really need to find the right type of platform to really kind of coalesce and bring that information together. And really sort of what Salesforce kind of calls one single shared view, where everybody can see the same information, it creates transparency, and it creates accountability. So we, at the time, worked with worked with a vendor to evaluate Salesforce as that potential platform. So this was around 2006 2007. And really, at that time, you know, cloud platforms are really sort of becoming You know, you're gaining traction within the computer software world in terms of, you know, moving all that information on to the internet. And Salesforce, even to this day, they have a program through their Salesforce Foundation, which is called the power of choice program that allows qualified nonprofits to take advantage of up to 10 user licenses for free, as a qualified 501 c three nonprofit, you can use those user licenses to launch your Salesforce platform, and then be able to grow from there.

There's no sunset clause to that. So as a nonprofit, you can continue to use those licenses for as long as you want to take advantage of it. And we really took advantage of that. We brought on what they call a nonprofit nonprofit success pack platform within Salesforce. And again, what that enabled us to do is it brought all of that information of the clients that we work with the entrepreneurs that we that we supported it invested in the information that we tracked in terms of I'm sure as you know, as a as an economic development entity, you track a lot of metrics to your funders, to your investors that help, you know, support your organization in terms of funding. So you track all those metrics. And it enabled us again to kind of bring all that together in one platform. What it did for us in terms of helping grow the organization was it turned all that information around where we can communicate it back to our board of directors, to our investors to our funders, we had a lot of family Foundation's here in Pittsburgh, obviously, that funded our organization. So it took all that information and made it live and made it in a in a in a way where we can communicate it back to our investors to really show what we were doing in terms of growing the organization and how we were using their money, how we're using their investment to, you know, go towards the mission that we had as an organization. And what it showed me as a CEO is a way to use that information to grow the organization. So we use Salesforce for about 10 years within the organization. And I left that organization and kind of continued on to continue to do a lot of Salesforce projects, Salesforce consulting, with organizations and nonprofits here around Pittsburgh to help them use it as a, as a tool to help grow their organization. And after a few years of doing that, Lou was, you know, looking to develop this practice within within five star, and it was sort of a serendipity of moments and opportunity and time where we kind of came together and, and really sort of had the same vision in terms of how we can, you know, gross, you know, grow Salesforce in terms of practice, and be able to bring that solution to five star clients and other organizations and companies around the area, it seems like Salesforce is one of these tools. I mean, it's just so many organizations use it, but the planet maximizing on it as well, too. So they work with five star, you can really go through and see how they're using it, get them to maximise on and get the most out of their investment. Right. Very true.

I mean, Salesforce in a lot of ways, it's kind of like the old adage, where you hear you only use 2% of your brain, right? In a lot of ways organizations only use probably 2% of Salesforce. I mean, that's, that's one of the great advantages of the platform. But it's it's a challenge to because it's a it's a massive universe that you can take advantage of. So it's really sort of beginning to figure out how do you how do you prioritize your vision and growth as an organization or company? And then how do you align? How do you align Salesforce with that, to make sure that you can accelerate that growth as much as possible?

So it's, it's great, because you know, why? Lou Camerlengo who is with us, and he spoke a few moments ago, there was five star development, and he's one of the co founders is very active in the nonprofit sort of civic community. So it's really cool, Lou, in terms of you being able to keep your activism and which touches so many different things, you know, women's rights, minorities, being inclusive, and, you know, social investment, etc. And having this part of your business, so I think people would be confident to know that you have a commitment to the community, as well. So I mean, that part's really, it's it's sort of nice to hear.

Yeah, thank you. Thank you for saying that, Audrey. Yeah, I mean, that's, I think, again, our whole focus is how do we help the clients we work with perform better, more efficiently, more effectively. So there's certainly, you know, I think, a huge need for that, in the nonprofit space, as well as kind of the corporate space. And particularly these days, I mean, everybody really has to be kind of on their pay game. So if there's any way we can bring a tool or a system or a process that can help people, you know, much more, you know, accelerate what they're doing. I mean, that's, that's the focus. And one of the things we're offering as part of that is this concept of a health check. So we can kind of go in to an organization and we can kind of look at their existing Salesforce org, how its setup, how it's being utilized, any risk areas, security issues, ways to kind of maximize it as well even take a look at how they're using licenses, which is not always efficient. So, you know, we're looking at ways to be able to kind of bring something to the market that has value doesn't require a huge commitment, kind of get that going. And again, that's a large part of what you know, Doug's been focusing on.

So for more information, people should just go to where they can go to our website. And then there's a Salesforce page there that gives information that talks about our partner of Accenture, who we're working with that has over 100, Salesforce developers, they're gold certified, they're one of the few organizations in the world are actually certified to develop applications for the app exchange. We've been working with them for about 10 years on a variety of different things. So we're kind of extending that partnership through Salesforce. Yeah, interesting enough. I've been there a couple of times. I was there last year, and got back to the United States on March 6.


Back in Time,

yep. Got it. And it's just you spread it here.

No. Oh, no.

Oh my goodness. And how times have changed over the past year but it's nice to see five star doing what you're doing, building up what you're doing with All Things Salesforce, so great to talk with you as always Lou and to meet Doug for the first time and learn his role with five star. We think it's just awesome stuff. wish you continued success. And everyone should really check out and see what's going on because we all using Salesforce at one level or another called Five stars. He was Go on how they can help you guys, you're the best. Thanks for hanging out with us.

Thank you very much for having us.

We have some tremendous assets here in the Pittsburgh region and one of them is Robert Morris University. These guys just keep kicking butt in so many different directions. It's unbelievable. And today, I'm just so pumped up to have a returning guest detect by radio, Dr. Chris Howard, who leads up Robert Morris University. Dr. Howard, thank you for hanging out with us today. We have some exciting news to talk about.

Yes, thank you, Jonathan. I'm delighted to be back. Thank you. I know it's great. I mean, we we get so proud people like Jonathan and I we just get so proud of other people doing like amazing things. And that's that's sort of what the criteria is for you if you do the work that we do. Because where your biggest ambassadors and where your biggest cheerleader. So it is a pleasure to be able to have you on and talk about what's new with you and all the things that have just happened, gosh, within the last week or so.

Exactly. So well, I look forward to jumping into it. But I want to thank you all the Pittsburgh Technology Council for creating an ecosystem for success and forward movement. I want to just go on record for our borders and our and our board and our and our you know, trust our trustees, our students, our faculty staff. Well, thank you, first of all, we don't need a whole lot of introduction as a school, but I think people might be a little surprised before we get to the big news about all the different things you guys do especially on engineering and technology. I mean, obviously reads go back to being a business school, but you guys have evolved in so many ways. And with your leadership there. You've just taken it to other levels that I think many other schools are very jealous of.

Well, I like that but by the same token, to your point, Jonathan, you know, the old saw was that Robert Morris meant business and it still does.It's the information age, future of work professions around informatics Information Systems, data analytics, actuarial science, we have one of the top 25 best programs in the world, not even just the country. Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, which is a 3d printing piece, and also the health sciences and what have you not not just nursing but informatics and nursing and those sorts of things combined together. So we are skating to where the puck is going with the economy. And it is not your grandfather's your grandmother's Bobby mo anymore movies probably units University Boulevard. It's like watching the Red Sea split. And also we're back there. Back and what have you, and also a great arena UPMC events that were playing great sports as well.


It's amazing. You see, you've been there now for how long?

Five years. One day 12 hours I've put February. First is my first day.


And my joke is that I when I first came in, everybody knew my name. I didn't know their name, but now I know almost all their names. So it'd be half a decade.

And so then you realize the whole Groundhog's Day phenomenon the next day in Pittsburgh.

Oh yes in more ways than one but it was great. I have my wife and I have enjoyed our time here.

Very cool stuff. I tell you what your your your Rolodex of people you know, that you've been connected to is pretty amazing. Which leads us to our news here. And that's why we're glad you're here in Pittsburgh because you are able to draw some of these things to Pittsburgh that maybe normally would not find us and you know a little guy named Reed Hastings, who founder and co CEO of a little company called Netflix for crying out loud.

It kind of gave you guys about three months. million bucks to fund some scholarships. I mean, this is I saw this news release, I immediately texted him like, you got to see this. I'm like, we got to get Dr. Howard on the show to talk about it.

The job that we're very, very excited about, reach large, yes, and generosity, a little background I don't read. Since 1997 1998. I was a young Air Force officer assigned a Joint Special Operations Command. He was starting a company based on DVDs because he didn't want me that crazy idea. Oh, my God. It was the Henry crown fellowship at the Aspen Institute about 20 young leaders from around the country. I was in a second class of that group. Since that time, people like Cory Booker has been a member and yeah, all sorts all sorts of interesting people from all walks of life. But But I remember us going around the room telling us what people were talking about what they did. The goal of the chairwoman of Goldman Sachs, Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs and one of my classmates, it was great, a great group of people, but really said I got I got an idea around DVDs, I turned into DVD late. And I think I got an idea. And it's been neat knowing him because watching him pivot, from DVDs to streaming and might remember that software that sort of that live episode where people were teasing him about the worst decision ever made. But now look where he is. He cares deeply about equity, who cares deeply about people that are there, they're having a structural experience structural challenges. So the next century scholarship program, funded by Reed Hastings $3 million, which will be 24 rides over the next three years or so, including books on board and everything. He has agreed to meet with him at least once a year, it might be virtual and in person, he's going to come out here in about maybe six months to a year's time and spend all the time on campus with us. And it's just, it's about the jobs of the future. I'll say this quickly that there's great information as jobs in Pittsburgh. And what Robert Morris does that you asked before Audrey and Jonathan, we were producing those people that are going to work in cybersecurity and EMC, our information systems at PPG. Or they're going to the FBI or whatever they're in, they're just great solid lies in our alumni base, has a strong business background, CTOs and CIOs and CFOs being put that together, especially for underrepresented minority, but not exclusively, of course, we can do something in creating pipelines and pathways that are sustainable for people that you know, may not have had that pathway or otherwise. So we're delighted and I just think, read again, again and again. Like I literally emailed him again, like rethinks again.

You know, I the thing that you have, and that people, you know, if you're listening to this, just Google, Dr. Chris Howerton, and arm you, and you'll be interested to see the diverse background that he's got. And the journey that you have, Chris, is something that I think, is not only admirable, it certainly is. But it is something that I think is relatable. I think there are many different pathways that you've taken in terms of your career, that can be relatable for people who don't know, like, why would I follow and do this? Why would I do that? And I, I sort of appreciate your journey of being in the, in the, you know, the military, in terms of your commitment to leadership and public service, you know, in terms of no path is, is direct and straight. Those the greatest people are the ones who took all the risks, right, that outside the boundaries. And if you can impart that, through this work, and the work that you're doing now, what better life could you ask for? Right?

Well, you know, we thank you, Ivan. We were talking about Suzy Shipley, the sponsor from Huntington here earlier, was was my hero, because she's awesome. And she said, Chris, you're living your purpose. And I thought that was a really profound way to say that I can't really call it out. But you know, a couple of things is that, you know, my life sometimes seems disconnected because there's nonprofit in there. And, you know, the military and education and, you know, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship and all sorts of things, military government Intel work, I can tell you more about the intelligence work, but then I'd have to kill you all. So I won't tell you anything else about the Intel we're in the intelligence on the show today, no death, oh, that'd be bad. That would be bad. But I'd like to say this, like a seamless web that kind of runs through all the things that I've done, and that the mantra has been to lead to serve and to grow. And it's deeply human. And it's also based in humanity itself. I mean, the most deeply human thing you can do is to help others. The most deeply humane thing you can do is put yourself in somebody else's shoes. My life has been marked by effort and empathy. works hard. It helps in think about the other I just been blessed to have this sort of, I call it either eclectic focus or focus, eclecticism. I can be big and small the town and I can relate. I had a lot of experience, I can relate with people. But But people say, Chris, you have a big Rolodex, I think I think I have, I don't know, 15,000 people my contact list, but I say the good news about that as if you've got 50,000 people in my contact list, because my contact list is your contact list. And, you know, a couple of calls, for example, to show me pause for a second, do we do any kind of like freeze framing for radio? Because I wanted that to be played back?

Oh, we're gonna play it back later, either. Yes, it's captured. So it's all your contact list? Is my contact? Okay, you heard that, but he really means it. Yes. No, that's, that's the cool thing. He you know, you have really helped put Pittsburgh on a new map. And let's see, if you can do it, for the least amongst us, I'm sorry, Audrey. And if you can, you know, those that have been blessed to have the most have the obligation to do the most for those that have the least because they know, they cannot pick up the phone and just call and get capital, or get an introduction or get. So we got to work really, really diligently, especially the killing of George Floyd. You know, we got to work very diligently, intentionally to make sure those that don't have get. And that says that's what that's just the right thing to do.

Right? And it is, and I try to live my life that way. My Rolodex might not be as big as yours. Here's the thing. There's another piece of the work that you've done at Robert Morris. And if I can just, you know, for this moment for you to give a plug your focus on international students. Can you talk about that? Good point.

Yeah. Yeah, it's been a wonderful testimony to Roger Moore's even before I got here. So I did my part in national license, I married a woman from South Africa. So you know, I'm living in a version of the United Nations every day. So that's my life. I come with a sensibility as somebody who studied in England and married, married a woman who's now American by choice, which is very cool. But when I came to Robert Morris University, I don't really have a you know, for, especially for university of our size, a significant number of international students. We've had the were with all of the late great, Pat Rooney, and Ambassador Rooney, who started our Rooney international Scholars Program, bringing to moon Township, just outside Pittsburgh, world. And it has been phenomenal. Our student body, the visiting fellows in this sense of a global connectivity we have and I'll stop here and simply say, we have a Saudi student who unfortunately, lost his life. About a year ago, we gave him a degree posthumously, we caught up one of our many Saudi alumni, and he arranged to go over to the gentleman's uncle's house, give them the certificate. I've had the diploma and send it all back on video. And he says, rMu is my home. Wow, that's so cool in Riyadh. And he said, rMu is my home. And it's so sincere. And then we just lost our Saudi Arabia alumni club last year, which is going well. So thank you for listening to Adria. We want to do more and more for more and more places around the world. Here here at Robert Moore's.

Dr. Howard, this is just amazing stuff. We could talk to you for like another hour about all the great work that Robert Morris is doing that you're doing, personally, professionally here in Pittsburgh, and I just want people to know that like, Man, what a resource we have here with the school. And so excited about this new scholarship fund with you know, the CO CEO of Netflix chipping in to make that happen. It just goes to great things are happening here in Pittsburgh. Appreciate your time with us today. Dr. Howard, thank you so much. Thank you for your passion for your altruism and just for being in right that gets you Audrey.

Great stuff. Audrey. I can't think of a better way to put a bow on tech vibe radio. That is one big dose of positivity right there. I'll tell you what, the rest of my Saturday is gonna be pretty quick. But that's for sure everyone. Thanks for listening to tech by radio. This is Jonathan Kersting.

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