College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Learning by Doing: Jeff Margolis, Technology, and Powerful Ideas


Jeff Margolis ’84 gets it. Nearly 10 years ago, the University of Illinois business administration and management information systems alum observed that “the age of consumerism is upon us, bringing with it great expectations that will push our industry to new levels of innovation and efficiency. Technology can help us get there faster and in ways we never expected.”

His forward-thinking vision and tireless technology advocacy—particularly in the healthcare field—have certainly paid off: Margolis was just named CEO of WellTok, developer of the CaféWell network, which provides a social forum for users to discuss healthcare issues ranging from chronic condition support to lifestyle tips. It has become the leading platform for health plans and other population managers, with two of the nation’s five largest health plan organizations among its customers.

It’s this foresight that prompted Margolis—the founder of TriZetto, the largest supplier of info technology to the U.S. healthcare insurance industry—to establish the College of Business’s Margolis Market Information Lab. As one of the most sophisticated university finance learning labs in the country, it’s equipped with state-of-the-art electronic sources of financial and investment data and software—including Bloomberg terminals, Morningstar products, an electronic trading platform, and risk management tools—used globally by accounting firms, investment banks, consulting firms, trading institutions and other organizations that hire University of Illinois students.

While Illinois has always been a leader in incorporating learning-by-doing projects in the classroom, the Margolis Market Information Lab has fundamentally reshaped the way we teach.

“The thought process behind establishing [the lab] was twofold,” Margolis explained. “First, to visibly highlight how important it is in business to understand that we’re part of a connected world. Second, I felt strongly that the value of learning how to access and apply information tools in a collaborative group environment with the presence of instructors and peers would increase the rate of learning.”

The success of financial institutions relies upon a large base of finance professionals who blend theory and practice; the lab will not only keep students aware of advanced financial technology, but train them thoroughly in its use. To that end, Illinois students will be powerfully equipped to enter the world of finance.

“One key to success in a world of expanding technological capabilities in information is to stay centered on the business problem you’re trying to solve,” Margolis commented. The Margolis Market Information Lab, he said, will “help provide an organized point of embarkation so that students in the College of Business can fully exercise their creativity and talents in the creation of valuable ideas.”

But, he said, “it’s up to the faculty and students to make it so.”

UIUC College of Business