I worked twenty-five years in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur and startup CEO and then five years on K Street as an industry advocate, which experiences shape my perspective of technology, of politics, of the economy, and most importantly, of economics. As an unusually seasoned graduate, I look forward to the next thirty years when I can apply my experience, and now my education, to instructing eager minds and furthering the understanding of human decision and the role of institutions. My chief interests are reflected in my chosen fields of health economics and public choice. However, the applied environmental economics course I have been teaching for the past three years has piqued my interest in cost/benefit analysis and financial forecasting. It should be obvious from the student ratings of my classes that I love teaching almost as much as research. I therefore hope to find a position where I can engage in both activities as part of a healthy academic culture and among thoughtful and mature colleagues. I have a great passion for economics and a thirst for uncovering truth, and hope to work with others who feel the same.
During my last few semesters at Arizona State University in the late 1970s, I was forced to choose between a startlingly successful software start-up and completing my business degree; like others of my generation, I chose to see the start-up through. Five years later, McGraw-Hill acquired my accounting software company, and appointed me president of their new Financial Software Division. In the years that followed, I refined my ability to define problems and design solutions, which translated into a series of high-tech ventures that stretched my abilities as an executive, increased my understanding of the high-tech marketplace, and honed my communication skills. During this time, my colleagues consisted, almost exclusively, of executives holding advanced degrees that served as testimonials for the value of higher education. They instilled in me a strong desire to return to school and pursue my passion for economics that had been growing over my career. For more than twenty-five years, as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and CEO, I worked with brilliant and highly motivated teams to produce break-through technologies, raise more than $75 million dollars in venture capital, and build successful enterprises. My experiences ranged from the highs of completing profitable exit strategies to the lows of hunkering down in the face of gut-wrenching recessions. The insights gleaned over these years shaped my perceptions, my character, and my ambitions, and fostered an increasing desire to understand what was behind the economic business cycles I had experienced.
A few years ago, I was elected by my peers to chair the board of the Software Industry Association (SIIA) and then asked to serve as its full-time executive director. Working as an industry advocate allowed me to network with hundreds of executives and government officials. I experienced first-hand the workings of public choice economics as we built consensus among our member firms, worked to define and shape policy initiatives, and educate lawmakers on the implications of new and existing legislation for the tech industry. In my recent role as executive vice president of business development for the larger Technology Association of America (TechAmerica), my responsibilities included finding solutions for the skyrocketing costs of health insurance for our member firms. The understanding I gained from my research, partnerships with major insurance providers, and interviews with technology company executives contributed to my passion for understanding the economics of health care.
During the past four years, I restructured my daily workload so I could return to my education and pursue a doctoral degree in economics—producing a master’s thesis on the impact of Advisor Induced Demand and Moral Hazard in the Third-Party Payer System and a doctoral dissertation on the Economic Impact of Emergency Services. The satisfaction of researching and writing these papers convinced me that the world of academia is the most desirable place to work in my new career as an economist. I firmly believe that my thirty years of experience greatly enhances the work I am currently producing. For example, building a company from my kitchen table to global distribution during the middle of the dotcom boom and bust has given me an emic view of business cycles. I believe that adding real-world experience and an insider’s perspective to the academic process can enhance the development of theory and the analysis of data.
During my three years at George Mason University, I focused on Health Economics and Public Choice as my primary fields of study. In addition, I took field courses in Law and Economics and taught six semesters of Environmental Economics and, most recently, Health Economics and Policy. Early on, I developed an interest in the rollout of emergency services and their impact on the mortality rates of aggravated assaults and both household and workplace accidents. This area of research has been largely ignored in empirical studies even though the impact on U.S. deaths is significant. I recognize, that with 30 years of executive, technology, and industry association experience, I am hardly the typical applicant. However, you will find that those years, and my three years of coursework and research at George Mason University, have enhanced my understanding and enthusiasm for health economics, political economy, law and economics, environmental economics, and business cycle theory.