Johnson Liu

B.S. Business Information Management, 2013

Why did you choose this major?

Initially, I came into the Donald Bren School as a Computer Science major, but after interacting with students and getting to know more about the BIM program, I found that I liked the blend of business classes in the Merage School of Business with CS/Informatics classes from the Donald Bren School. It allowed me to learn about IT project management concepts while developing fundamental computer science skills.

What has been your career path since graduating with your B.S.?

I have been a software development engineer at IBM for the past several years where I have worked on a variety of exciting projects and products ranging from leading global product releases with workshops to developing mobile and cloud products. I’ve also received my Masters Degree in Information Technology from CSUF and published several technical books and articles.

What do you enjoy most about your current position?

I enjoy the cutting edge projects that I work on and the people. What BIM taught me was how to understand the business processes that shape a product or a project plan within a development organization like IBM. When roadmaps or agile product planning come up, I am fully aware and capable of being a solid contributor. I enjoy being able to work on a variety of different projects each year with new challenges and new benefits.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Depending on the day, I usually work from home for the day or I head into the office after working from home in the mornings. My morning consists of a scrum call with my development team where I share what I am working on for the day. Sometimes, I might have an interlock meeting or chat with the design, documentation, or test teams to get a certain bug or feature delivered. The rest of the day is spent interacting with coworkers about how to approach certain challenges or focusing and understanding how to get a feature or bug ready to be released.

What was the best part of your experience at UCI?

My BIM classes were very memorable and incredibly helpful, especially the ones from the Donald Bren School. I enjoyed the projects in the advanced programming courses where we were able to get creative with very technical challenges. A big part of my experience at UCI was starting and building up the ICS Student Council, the current Apple lab, Med AppJam, and organizing various student events like ICS Day within the Bren school. It was great working with faculty, staff, and students within the Bren School to improve the student experience during my time.

In what way(s) did your studies at UCI prepare you for your career to date?

The core programming courses prepared me literally how to program from little experience to being a full software developer at IBM. Although industry internships were a big part, UCI helped me to “learn how to learn” programming from basic Java projects to how to develop a web crawler. UCI taught me how to take theories and make them into practical solutions for the real world. The project-driven programming courses also taught me valuable skills to work within a team.

What would be your advice to incoming students who might want to follow a similar career path?

If you want to follow on a path where you can be very versatile in a increasingly demanding technical field, then BIM is essential for you. Many times, organizations do not just need one skill set, but require several skill sets like knowing how to plan a product from conception to delivery or how to develop a mobile application on iOS and Android for example. The options that BIM give you are plentiful after you graduate – where you can choose to be a consultant, developer, project/product manager, just to name a few.


“Although industry internships were a big part, UCI helped me to “learn how to learn” programming from basic Java projects to how to develop a web crawler.”