Alumnus and Salute to Business Achievement honoree Joe Eimer gives back to move students forward
Once a self-described bad student, Joe Eimer couldn’t predict he’d become a business leader at a Fortune 100 company. But his time at the University of Missouri-St. Louis prepared him for an unexpected career in information technology.
Eimer comes from a big family and is the youngest of 10 siblings. He was raised in Fenton, Missouri, and could actually see the Maritz complex being built from his home, but he never imagined that would be the place where he’d start his professional life.
His family didn’t have much, but he had drive. And with the help of a program that assisted youth in getting summer jobs, Eimer landed a position working at Maritz in the corporate library as an assistant while in high school.
“I always joke that we didn’t have the silver spoon, but we went out and earned it,” Eimer said. “You have to kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps and figure out how to do stuff.”
Eimer eventually developed a rapport with one of the librarians. He started helping her with her computer and then began assisting her colleagues.
Noticing his aptitude for this work, the librarian told him about the college tuition assistance program at Maritz that helped full-time employees earn degrees.
In his senior year of high school, Eimer began working as a co-op employee in the Maritz library full-time. After graduation he started attending St. Louis Community College–Meramec, then transferred to UMSL, where he got his BSBA in information systems and technology in 1992.
The assistance from Maritz was the first step on a journey that’s led him to his current role as the senior director of IT ERP at Charter Communications, where he leads an IST team and offers enterprise scale software solutions.
Because of his experience at UMSL, Eimer has stayed connected to the university, even hiring several UMSL graduates over the years and serving on the IST Advisory Board. His connectedness to the university is also generational as he has two nephews and a niece who participated in the IST program to augment their learning and careers.
Brad Eimer, graduated with his BSBA in information systems and technology last year and had a similarly positive experience as he followed in his uncle’s footsteps.
“I really enjoyed my time at UMSL,“ Brad said. “I was able to learn and work with faculty who genuinely cared about our progress. I feel that UMSL and the program I completed prepared me to enter the work force.”
Joe Eimer believes a solid education directly impacts one’s quality of life.
“I’m a big believer in higher education,” he said. “It offers a bigger opportunity for growth and upward mobility.”
As an advisory board member, he has helped the IST department with strategy, curricula, research and service. He is consistently trying to find ways to make the department as effective for students as possible to prepare them for employment, just as he was prepared upon entering the business world as a new graduate.
Eimer helped update the curriculum to provide practical job skills such as project management to give UMSL IST students an advantage over competitors.
“The curriculum matters as a practitioner because if you like to hire the students, you want them to be learning things that are relevant and you want them to learn it the right way,” Eimer said. “So, my first interest when I got on the advisory board was curriculum.”
Eimer is in his third year on the IST Advisory Board and served one year as president, helping lead its strategic planning. That was critical for the department’s five-year review as well as the accreditation review by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which noted that the ISTAB served as a model industry standard.
His work throughout his career and with the advisory board earned him a Salute to Business Achievement award, which he received in April.
“Joe has volunteered countless hours through the Information Systems Technology Advisory Board to create bridges between the IST department’s faculty, students and St. Louis businesses,” said Dinesh Mirchandani, professor and chair of the Department of Information Systems and Technology. “He not only helped improve the curriculum of the department, including initiatives in business intelligence and cybersecurity, but also spearheaded community outreach efforts, including the department’s summer camps and hackathons.”
In addition to serving on the IST advisory board, Eimer has demonstrated his commitment to UMSL by performing exit interviews with graduating UMSL seniors and helping incorporate feedback into the IST department.
Eimer also helped launch an IST Alumni Affinity group in 2019 to connect with other alumni and coordinated fundraising efforts that involved applying for the Spectrum Employee Community Grant.
Growing up there was no accountability and little guidance regarding his education, something he decided to give to others.
“I feel like jobs and education are so important,” Eimer said. “But I think there are other things that go with it like having somebody to support you or hold you accountable – to give you that vision.”
Vision and opportunity are two things Eimer attempts to provide for any students or young people he encounters through working with the advisory board and his volunteer work with STL Youth Jobs. Giving back is a major part of his lifestyle, a means of showing gratitude for his opportunities.
“It was my university, so I wanted to give back to the same place that gave me so much,” he said. “I just asked, ‘How can I help?’”
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