The Think IT Association, a peer-to-peer professional development network from York Solutions, brings together exceptional IT leaders from many industries and backgrounds. Think IT is designed to help IT professionals connect with one another to ask questions, share ideas, and advance their skills and careers.

Think IT has more than 3,500 members separated into seven groups with different areas of focus. Groups generally meet monthly – often in the early morning hours before the work day starts. Sessions follow a relaxed roundtable format where members can participate in engaging facilitated discussions.

Because Think IT attracts top-tier leaders with diverse experiences, the association has become a valuable source of professional advice and collective wisdom that members can apply directly to their own careers.

We sat down to talk with one of our members, Steve Barger, to ask him about his experience in IT, and how Think IT has played a role in his professional life. Steve is Director of IT at ULTA Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the United States.

Where did you start your career? What experiences led you to the industry?

I started my career as a driver for a software vendor. I was 16 and thought that computers were cool!

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing IT Leaders/CIOs as a profession right now?

The biggest challenge is finding and motivating the right talent. We have a huge shortage of talented people and real lack of diversity in tech. We need more women and people of all backgrounds to provide a balanced perspective.

How can IT leaders get business partners to think differently about the importance of IT?

The IT industry needs to rise up and be thought leaders to partner with businesses, instead of just being order takers. You also need to capture the voice of your customer and know what they really think about their technology partner.

What tips can you share to develop the next generation of IT leaders?

Learn early in your career that IT is there to solve business problems. Insist that your entire staff speaks in business terms and not in tech speak whenever a business partner is present. Save the acronyms for IT-only discussions.

Tell us a little bit about your specialties and passions within IT. What’s been your favorite project you’ve worked on over the years? What about your position in the industry gets you really excited?

I started in technology as a programmer and within 10 years did every role in IT, including analyst, DBA, instructor, sales, etc. Picking a favorite project is like picking your favorite child. However, I do have fond memories of secret data intelligence gathering for pre-merger deals. A lot of work, but very thrilling.

I get excited every day I get up to go to work at ULTA Beauty. We are a fun-loving group, and we strive to make a difference every day for our customers, ULTA business partners who get to delight and surprise our guests every day. When you get to witness what make-up can do for a person’s confidence (burns victims, for example), you get to see the real positives of the beauty industry.

Tell us about your personal brand.

Great question! My brand is to be genuine: true to myself and to my staff. I come to work every day with a great attitude, and I expect that everyone I work with share that same perspective.

What has been your most valuable experience as a Think IT member thus far?

Meeting wonderful people with similar backgrounds who share a passion for making things better in our industry!

What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

My life is not all work. I ride my motorcycle on the track, ski in the winter, and love being outside with family and friends.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Think IT Association.