This content is part of the Essential Guide: The 2013 IT Leadership Awards: Profiles in leadership and management
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YES Prep IT leader builds, then rebuilds IT after natural disaster

IT Leadership Awards finalist Troy Neal is forced to rebuild IT at YES Prep after a devastating natural disaster. Learn about Neal in this Q&A.

Our SearchCIO-Midmarket 2013 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals at midmarket companies. We put out a call for nominations of individuals who have excelled in six categories: cultural innovation, technological advancement, business value, green IT, IT engagement and customer experience.

Troy NealTroy Neal

Finalist Troy Neal, director of IT at YES Prep Public Schools, was hired to build a non-profit budget-friendly IT infrastructure from the ground up -- he ended up doing so not once, but twice.

YES Prep Public Schools, a Texas-bred charter school system, provides free college preparatory education for 5,400 students in grades 6 through 12. In August 2008, YES Prep hired its first IT staff to increase communication between staff, teachers, students and parents, but no more than two weeks later Hurricane Ike wiped out the little IT infrastructure the staff had developed. In this Q&A, Neal shares the leadership style that rocketed YES Prep's IT team towards success after a natural disaster.

Number of years in IT: 7 years

Company: YES Prep Public Schools

Revenue: $54 million (non-profit)

Number of employees in the company: 705

From the nomination

Troy is a strong technology professional. He has accomplished amazing things at his organization in a short period of time and on a limited budget. He is committed to serving his customers, innovative in his thinking and will do what it takes to get the job done!

Number of employees in IT: 5

Educational background: High school and military

First job: U.S. Marine Corps

LinkedIn: Troy Neal

Twitter Handle: @jarheadtn

What's the best advice you've ever received? Work hard, play hard.

Judges' comments

Mission beyond simple profit motive.

In the movie of your life, who would play your character? Clint Eastwood

If you could have just one superpower, what would it be and why? Telekinesis, so I could influence government to provide more to education.

What's your favorite app on your smartphone or tablet device? Mocha RDP

Where do you fall in the iPhone versus Android debate? iPhone, because Android has too many versions and less source control

Describe the best technology decision you ever made: Moved from VMware to HyperV

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today? BYOD [bring your own device]

Which role/internal partner do you rely upon the most? Helpdesk, because they are the customer-facing portion of our team and can have the most impact on our staff.

What's your prediction for the next big technology? MS Lync dominates the voice market

What's your favorite non-monetary benefit or perk of your job? Recognition

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today? They do not identify their culture or understand how importantly their culture affects employee performance.

What are "rookie mistakes" that you see in up-and-coming IT leaders? They are afraid to make mistakes.

Describe your leadership style: Lead by example, get your hands dirty and make mistakes.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, site editor.

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