Mark Gerencser thinks big.
The chair of UMUC's Board of Visitors has spent more than 30 years traveling the globe for Booz Allen Hamilton, the international consulting firm, solving problems—and the bigger the better.
What kind of problems? Protecting the nation from cyber attack, reimagining the nation's transportation system, seeking solutions to global environmental problems, and providing sustainable energy sources, to name a few.
Consulting Magazine in 2007 named him one of the top 25 most influential consultants in the world. ExecutiveBiz Magazine named him one of the Top 10 Game Changers in Washington, D.C., for 2009 and one of the Top 20 People to Watch for 2011.
He co-authored a Washington Post bestseller, entitled Megacommunities, which defines how leaders in government, the private sector, and civil society can work together to solve global challenges.
Now as a Booz Allen Hamilton executive vice president, he leads the firm's commercial business that helps financial services, health, energy, and utility clients. His focus is on assisting clients with complex issues associated with cybersecurity, business and IT transformation, and risk management.
Take the nation's crumbling transportation infrastructure, for example. Most people throw up their hands at the trillions of dollars it will cost to modernize the system to keep goods and people moving in the next century. Not Gerencser.
"We have the talent, the engineering capacity, the construction know-how, and the materials, processes, and experience to complete major infrastructure of all sorts," he wrote. "Contrary to popular impressions, we also have the money, even in financial straightened times, because new financing methods can tap vast amounts of private capital, if we're wise enough to deploy them."
What's needed, Gerencser says, is reimagining how the nation builds its infrastructure. And he's got a four-step plan to do that. Such thinking over a career of solving problems has earned him the moniker "Mr. Fix It."
A lot of his ideas and thinking were sharpened in an executive UMUC Master of Science in technology management degree he earned in 1993.
"My UMUC education was a career enabler," he told UMUC's Achiever magazine, "especially in helping me understand leadership and its various forms and effects, helping me understand how important culture is to both progress and failure in an institution, and helping me hone my project management skills."
Gerencser has been a primary architect of Booz Allen's growth over the past two decades. Along the way, he has worked with the White House and the Pentagon and in boardrooms of some of the country's largest corporations, helping organizations of all kinds solve their most complex problems.
Cybersecurity has been one of his key areas of focus in recent years, especially providing more education programs to train cybersecurity professionals. He created the United States National Security Scholarship Program, and the White House nominated him to the National Security Education Board.
He has also been a strong supporter of UMUC's new undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity degree and certificate programs that have attracted more than 250 Booz Allen employees among the thousands of students who have enrolled since 2010.
"A cybersecurity degree from UMUC will not just land you a job," he told Achiever magazine. "It will equip you for long-term career opportunities."