From Information Systems to a Flourishing Vineyard
Adjunct professor William Kolb has been working at USF since 1994. In 2016, he moved to Oregon to start a vineyard, but that hasn’t stopped him from teaching at the University of San Francisco School of Management.
On Wednesday mornings, MS Information Systems adjunct professor William Kolb drives to the Portland airport and flies to the SF Bay Area to teach an evening eCommerce class at USF. He flies back the next day to return to Oregon. Though Kolb lived in the Bay Area for 40 years, he and his wife left California and bought a 25-acre farm in Oregon in May of 2016 to start up their very own vineyard.
"I grew up in a small farming town north of Bakersfield,” Kolb said. “I started working in the grape vineyards when I was 10-years-old, and continued to work summers all the way into grad school. By the time I was 18, I knew that I needed to go to ‘the big city’ for an education and career, but when I was done, I wanted to move back into a rural community and tend my own vineyard," Kolb said.
This, is exactly what Kolb did. “[The vineyard] is in Oregon’s wine country and appropriately has a small vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes. Now, instead of managing large IT projects, I spend my time working in the vineyard and our small forest. I am well-suited to a rural agrarian environment.”
Kolb has been an adjunct professor at USF since 1994. He’s worked in information technology since 1980, when the IT field was then referred to as data processing. “I have been fortunate to have a front-row seat to the development of the computer, telecommunications, and social media sectors right here in Silicon Valley,” said Kolb. “What that has taught me is that no matter how smart we think we are, in 20 years people will look back at 2018 and wonder how we got by with such limited capabilities. It also taught me that companies have to be constantly innovating, or they will be left behind.”
"I use my hands-on experiences to take the information in the texts, and then explain how it is used in real-world situations."
MS in Information Systems
Outside of the classroom, Kolb has a great deal of experience in working as an IT consultant, a Chief Information Officer, and before consulting, he worked in the centralized IT operations of the Military Space Programs division. During his time as a CIO, Kolb had many roles and responsibilities such as, “architect a single vision for the future in areas of networking, processing, security, communication, and standardizing hardware and software.”
On Kolb’s farm, he has an entirely different set of tasks and roles: “I do the tractor work of mowing, tilling, and spraying for mildew,” he explained. “I am in the vineyard every day taking care of whatever needs to be done.” Kolb Vineyards functions as a company that sells fruit to wineries, but Kolb said he also occasionally makes his own wine for fun. Kolb described the rise of his vineyard to be “an eye-opening journey,” after spending the majority of his career in IT. “I have never run a business top to bottom. It is a fun and challenging experience,” he said.
I am very much at home on my farm, but still enjoy the vibe that is San Francisco and San Jose,” said Kolb. “Mostly, I enjoy the students.
We have exceptional students at USF… Interacting with them is the best part of my USF experience, it is what keeps me coming back.
By Lonny Wysard