Alumni Spotlight: Jason Huckabay
November 6, 2017 | By: Chelsea Grunden
Jason Huckabay graduated from the Rawls College with a B.B.A. in Finance in 2001 and from West Texas A&M with his MBA in 2003. Since his time at the Rawls College, he has worked in several positions and owned many different companies. He currently serves as executive vice president of Operational Delivery for the HCI Group – a global leader in healthcare IT consulting. The HCI Group has experienced growth since Huckabay joined in 2016, including being named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies for the fourth and fifth consecutive year.
Huckabay first gained experience owning a business as a sophomore in college, when he started his own DJ service called the Music Man. The company grew from initially doing fraternity and sorority mixers, to weddings and school dances, to bringing in over $60,000 a year. Upon graduation from the Rawls College, he sold the company to two freshmen for $20,000 and searched for a post-grad career.
His jobs after graduation gave him experience in many different fields. Although his degree in finance, his interests and background in computer science pushed him toward jobs in information technology.
"Shortly after college, I saw an ad for computer instructors needed," he said. "I applied and was awarded the position. It was easy enough; I was teaching people how to use computers and everything I was teaching I had learned myself on my own because I just enjoyed playing with computers."
After working as a computer instructor for a couple of years, Huckabay decided to open up his own computer school, West Texas Computers, in Amarillo. After a few years, he and his wife decided to sell the company and leave Amarillo.
Jason set up a few interviews with companies in the Houston area. Huckabay traveled to Houston for an interview, but it was canceled shortly after he arrived. Undeterred, he spent his free day driving around and knocking on doors looking for job options. He came across MTI Technical College in Nassau Bay.
"I walked in and asked to speak to the school director. I asked if they were hiring and he said no. I shared my resume and my experience and let him know I was moving to the area if something changed," he said. "Surprisingly, he called me about an hour later to come in for an interview the next day. During the interview he informed me that he didn't have a job available, but he did want to grow his program, so he made a position for me. That gave me my ticket to Houston."
After 14 months in his position at MTI, Huckabay accepted a position in healthcare IT with UTMB in Galveston, helping the hospital install a new electronic medical record (EMR) system. He later moved on to help Texas Children's Hospital with their EMR journey as a training director.
"During my three years with Texas Children's Hospital, I became known for my innovative teaching techniques and our use of eLearning to train the 10,000+ employees. I presented our work at a National EMR conference and became an industry leader in my field," Huckabay said. "One thing I noticed while at TCH was that I had nearly 40 consultants on my team and, even though their knowledge level was not as high as mine, they earned double my salary."
With this in mind, he decided to go into consulting. After working for a few different firms, he eventually founded his own company, Expert Technical Advisors (ETA). Through the network he gathered working in healthcare, ETA organically grew to have consultants across the entire country within six years of operation. ETA began to partner with The HCI Group for multiple projects – which eventually led HCI acquiring ETA in 2016, making Huckabay executive vice president of operational delivery.
In his current role, as well as previous roles, Huckabay has overseen the hiring business professionals straight out of college. When hiring recent graduates, Huckabay said he looks at the entire package of what the applicant can offer: their area of study, grades, communication skills, work experience before graduating and how they present themselves during the interview.
He referenced how he got his first job as Director of IT – by walking in and handing them his resume – as a way students can still get a foot in the door even if current models of employment (i.e. online job boards) fail to bring results.
"Success is the crossroads of opportunity and preparation," he said. "While at the Rawls College and beyond, I was always learning. Not learning to pass a test, but learning to know more and have more tools at my disposal. My success in the healthcare IT field has been largely due to being prepared for new career opportunities. Even today, almost 20 years after graduating, I am constantly learning new things that could not only help me today, but prepare me for tomorrow.
"The skills I acquired while studying at the Rawls College have been invaluable in the running of every business I have owned, and continue to add value in my current role as EVP at The HCI Group," Huckabay said.
Huckabay currently lives in The Woodlands, where he loves working on cars, Jeeps, camping, playing basketball, spending time with his wife and kids and learning something new every chance he gets. He also part owner of an off-road podcast hosted in California, High Sierra 4x4, and a real estate investment company JEH Unlimited that renovates homes and manages and owns rental properties in Texas.