Mtech staff profile, Shola Lawal: modernizing data management for innovation and entrepreneurship
Shola Lawal changed the way the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) deals with its data: across the board.
When she joined the institute in 2005, most of its programs held data in Microsoft Access databases, while only one had any sort of interface to the Internet.
Shola changed it all.
“With everything in Access, we had to keep updating everyone’s local machines. It was not an efficient way of managing data. So, we decided to look into web-based capabilities. We took what was in Access and ported it into web-based applications, with SQL server backends and ASP.net front-ends.”
She started with MIPStrack, which is used to handle the entire Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) funding application process. Next, she converted the MIPS projects database, through which the entire program is managed. Part-time employee Roland Cesar de Dios helped.
But it didn’t stop there.
The Hinman CEOs Program wanted a web-based interface for students to apply, as well as a back-end through which they could track students well after they graduated. Shola built it.
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program wanted the same thing for its students. Shola built it.
Next, Mtech’s Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship needed a system to manage its students, from application through completion of the minor. Shola created that as well.
Finally, the Mtech Ventures incubator wanted a system to manage and track both its companies and its facility. Once again, Shola built it.
Salesforce began to take over the business, education and other arenas as the system of choice for managing contact and other information. In response, Shola learned it, earning certifications as both a Salesforce administrator and platform builder.
Armed with this new knowledge, she rebuilt Mtech Ventures’ incubator management system in Salesforce, followed quickly by instances for the University of Maryland’s MAVRIC program, then for the TechPort incubator.
Next, she added Saleforce instances for UM Ventures and I-Corps to use. Finally, Shola is currently building an instance for UMD’s Quantum Startup Foundry.
Beyond that, she still maintains the MIPStrack, MIPS Projects, Hinman CEOs, and Minor in Technology Entrepreneurship web-enabled data systems.
“We are constantly adding functionality and automating processes, as well as building external forms for applicants to apply to various programs,” said Shola. “We also do a lot of data imports, since some systems do not speak to each other. I constantly keep up with Salesforce and other technologies as there is still so much to learn, as technology is constantly changing.”
Officially, she is a Double Star Ranger in Salesforce’s Trailhead training platform.
Prior to joining Mtech, Shola worked broadly on databases and web-based applications for XPAND, Verizon, ReliaQuote, EMW, and Syscom Services.
In her free time, Shola likes to travel. Her adventures have included a five-country European tour to Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy, as well as trips to Dubai and Nigeria.
Shola came to the U.S. in 1993 from Nigeria. Mtech is sure glad she did.
October 27, 2022