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Member Feature: Harold Knutson

By Grete Tiemeier posted 08-20-2021 08:00


    1. Share a fun personal fact:

    I’m so thankful for the career I’ve had.  As a college student, I was headed towards being a commercial airline pilot upon completion of my Air Force service; however, fate intervened and instead of flight school, I wound up as a Management Trainee at IDS (subsequently known as American Express Financial Advisors and, eventually, Ameriprise).  They were progressive enough to train me as a programmer and fund my pursuit of an MBA which launched me into my career as a leader of IT initiatives.

    1. How long have you been a SIM member?

    Since 2019

    1. Why do you invest your time in SIM?

    I consulted with the SIM Board back in 2018/2019 to help them redefine their purpose and mission.  Once we clarified that it was to “Advance the practice of IT Leadership in Minnesota”, I realized it was the same purpose I was trying to serve.  Since then, I’ve served as the chapter VP, President, and Past President as we’ve pursued that purpose.

    1. What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?

    If you help your team comprehend the reality and unvarnished truth of your situation – no matter what that might be, you’re 80 percent of the way to successfully addressing any issues you’ve got.  When things go south, it’s because you haven’t been completely honest and transparent about your reality or the challenges you’re facing. 

    1. There are MANY other lessons….
    2. Tell us about an impactful SIM event that you’ve attended, and what you took away from it.

    There have actually been many of them.  One that sticks in my mind was a presentation by Mark Lanterman, who, in real time, logged onto the dark web and showed how simple it was to buy stolen credit card numbers.  Not only could you purchase them, you could filter your purchase by issuing bank, card holder zip code, and/or outstanding balance.  Icing on the cake was that the dark web site guaranteed the numbers would be valid – or they would replace them with valid ones!

    1. What is one goal you have for 2021?

    I facilitate a few CxO Groups that meet quarterly to take deep-dives on topics they wish to discuss.  My goal for 2021 is to get these groups back to meeting in-person where so much more information gets exchanged.

    1. If you could have 1 day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

    Peter Drucker.  I’ve seen him speak a few times and it’s been riveting each time.  He would literally come on stage mic’d up and sit in an over-stuffed chair with a side table and a glass of water.  No other props.  He would then proceed to share his experiences and learnings with his audience for anywhere from 60-120 minutes.  He used no notes or teleprompter and there wasn’t one person in the audience checking their phone or texting because they were all totally engaged hearing about his experiences with some of the largest, most successful companies in American business.

    1. How will we remember you?

    Good question - but one I can’t answer.  I really don’t know how I’ll be remembered.  I fervently hope it’s as a loving husband, father, and good friend to many.  Professionally, I hope it’s as an effective leader of the teams with which I’ve had the great privilege of being a part and someone who was always willing to share what he’s learned from those experiences.