The following article was copied from the U of I web site with permission.
Dawn Ainger (BS 1992, MS 1995, computer science), award-winning entrepreneur and Chairman and CEO of Genova Technologies, was, on Friday, September 22, the first visitor in the 2017 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Fellows program. In conjunction with this honor and her return to campus for her talk entitled “From the Classroom to the Boardroom: My Personal and Professional Journey as a University of Iowa Alumna” we asked her the following:
What does Genova Technologies do “in a nutshell”?
“We make more than phones, SMART.” We take hardware, and put the software brains in them that their users expect. Everything from phones that have medical continuing education on them, to tractors that report via the cloud as to where a seed was planted, to a soldier on the ground automatically communicating back to headquarters, his/her location.
Can you tell us a little bit about a problem/project that you are currently working on?
A smart phone app that allows medical professionals to get their continuing education in minutes at a time, versus hours at a time on their mobile devices, using trusted, unbiased medical sources. It is in the app stores for nurses. We are going to be doing other specialties as well. CEHQ. (Continuing Education HeadQuarters)
Tell us about some of your favorite experiences as a student in the CS dept at Iowa?
When my first husband left me unexpectedly with three little boys, I called up my department chairman, Professor Joe Kearney, and told him that I was going to have to drop out of graduate school. I was in the middle of a family crisis. I needed to resign. Joe said, “Dawn, I do not accept your resignation. The other parts of your life are out of your control right now. Graduate school is still in your control. For your own good, you need to stay in school. We will get you through this.” I took his advice, and I’m glad I did. He was right.
What advice do you have for our students? Any tips for those needing to develop valuable soft skills?
“You have two ears and one mouth…..use them in that ratio”
“Respect others’ opinions and acknowledge them, or they will never listen to your opinion”
“Begin a debate on what you have in common with the other person”
“Talk about your own mistakes before talking to others about their mistakes”
A mantra of yours is “Try it, tweak it.” How does this apply to both CS and entrepreneurship?
It’s ok to fail, it is NOT ok NOT to try. Put a safety net in place in case your idea fails, but be brave enough to try.