When Andrew Kahl (EMBA ’11) and wife Suzanne got a new dog a year ago, his daughters Anna and Natalie wanted to name the German Shepherd something reminiscent of Notre Dame.
Sorin? Corby? Rudy?
None seemed quite right.
Hugo, Kahl suggested.
“As in Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Kahl laughs. “It’s a stretch. But ‘Notre Dame’ is in there. We kept the connection.”
“Keeping the connection” is an apropos description for Kahl’s career and his dedication to Notre Dame.
Kahl, who double majored as an undergraduate in history and economics first at the University of Iowa and then Northern Illinois, has made a successful career in the software tech business—even though he doesn’t consider himself much of a “techie.” He co-founded Credant Technologies in 2001, a data security company he sold to Dell in 2012. After fulfilling his contractual obligations to Dell in July, Kahl accepted an adviser role with Net.Orange, another software company that specializes in healthcare operating systems.
For someone who quickly confesses that he knows nothing about programming, the software industry seems like an odd place to land. But the “connector” is his expertise in business management, which he began acquiring through an early job contracting with Compaq out of undergrad, and later honed through a 20 year career in software, venture capital and culminating with the Notre Dame Executive MBA program.
“Every business has a specific product or service to sell,” says Kahl. “Every business has different operational functions and they all need someone to run those operational aspects. Once you gain that expertise, you can apply it to any business, any industry. You have a baseline framework that can be plugged into a wide variety of careers as long as you can master the industry subject matter too.”
Kahl views his responsibility as a Mendoza Graduate Alumni Board member in a similar fashion—as a connector between the College and the real world.
“The mission of the board is really two things: to be a barometer for the business school to help them understand how alums are applying their expertise in the workplace, and to serve as a sextant to guide and provide direction of where the business school is heading—to bring the real-world experience that people in the programs may not have,” he says. “Notre Dame has an alumni base that represents a wide variety of industry trends. We’re a valuable resource in helping the College understand what skills are in demand and how they can be part of the curriculum.”
There’s a personal aspect of his reason for being part of the board as well, which relates to another self-supplied description by Kahl: “I don’t sit still very well.”
“I absolutely love Notre Dame and what the school represents. Notre Dame is one of the best schools in the country, and I want to be able to help make an exceedingly positive impact on what ND is teaching the next generation of students,” he says. “I don’t want to be a sideline critic, I want to be involved.”