Author: Matt Waldman

Published

(L-R) Joey George, president of the Association for Information Systems, and Mary Freeman, a regional business manager with Microsoft, present AIS's Student Chapter of the Year award to SMIS president Chris Sanders and faculty advisor Mark Huber.
(L-R) Joey George, president of the Association for Information Systems, and Mary Freeman, a regional business manager with Microsoft, present AIS's Student Chapter of the Year award to SMIS president Chris Sanders and faculty advisor Mark Huber.

If it weren’t for his new job with Ernst & Young, Chris Sanders (BBA ’11) might want to consider a career in espionage. Few people can pass themselves off as something they aren’t, much less unwittingly. But Sanders has managed to do so repeatedly, and with the silky smooth composure of James Bond himself.

Invited to attend UGA’s annual faculty symposium at Unicoi State Park this spring, Sanders was so poised while making a presentation to the group that a senior professor mistook him for a junior member of the faculty. Elected president of Terry’s Society for Management Information Systems as a mere sophomore, Sanders’ fellow officers didn’t realize he was an underclassman until eight months into his first term.

Sanders eventually led SMIS to the Association for Information Systems’ 2010 Student Chapter of the Year award, and he credits the website Bond Games – launched with a friend when he was in fourth grade – as the inspiration for his career path.

“It was a review website of Bond movies and walkthroughs of Bond video games,” says Sanders, whose technical skills grew as his interest in building and designing websites blossomed. “You got better at it as you broke things and fixed stuff and that’s where my technical skills came from. We got to a point where we had ads and hundreds of visitors a week.”

The eldest of four siblings, Sanders initially considered a career in computer science, but he ultimately chose Terry’s MIS Department because it was a smarter fit for his long-term vision.

“I heard about MIS at Georgia and how it was about working with teams solving problems as an analyst with both technical and business skills, and it seemed to fit me perfectly,” says Sanders, who attended SMIS meetings as a freshman to benefit from the networking opportunities and presentations hosted by companies representing various IS career paths.

As SMIS president, Sanders quadrupled membership to 120 students and improved the organization’s efficiency, financial responsibility, and continuity. Under his leadership, SMIS also established working relations with UGA’s Archway Partnership, which Terry eventually incorporated into its curriculum as a means of pairing students with Georgia communities in need of IS help.

“I could not ask for a better organizational president or person to work with,” says Terry senior lecturer Mark Huber, who advises the SMIS chapter and coordinates Terry’s Archway involvement. “Chris thinks of the big picture as well as the details, and he listens to others and is not afraid to implement good ideas even if they did not come from him. This is a hallmark of a mature leader.”

Sanders, who begins his career this August in Atlanta as an IT auditor in Ernst & Young’s IT Risk and Assurance practice, is excited to begin the next phase of his life, but says he’s going to miss Athens.

“I hope to stay involved with Terry,” says Sanders. “A lot of the things I had great success with here would have been impossible if I hadn’t had good teams around me focused on the same goals. I hope to keep encouraging people to get involved with student organizations over time because it’s been a tremendously invaluable experience for me and I want to help provide those opportunities for other people.”