Skip to main content

PROFESSIONAL PROGRESSION

An inherent initiative to identify problems and find solutions

In 1998, as an IUPUI student, Corey Willis accepted an internship with an international company that had its own television studio. One of his first assignments involved cataloging the company’s inventory of Betamax tapes, but the database didn’t work properly, leaving Willis frustrated.

While most interns would have probably done what they could and moved on, Willis wouldn’t let it go. “I had to tear it apart and figure out how to fix it,” he said. So the tenacious college kid visited a second-hand bookstore, purchased a hefty manual about Microsoft Access — a database management program — and succeeded in locating the glitch.

Those seemingly insignificant steps into the bookstore would lead to a future in information technology. Suddenly, after wandering through college as a communication major with uncertain goals, Willis knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life. “That was the trigger that whetted my appetite,” he said. “That’s when I decided, ‘I’m going IT.’”

The moment of self-discovery put him on the path to his current position as vice president of corporate development and technology at Boone REMC. His journey there, however, was less a charted course than a case of “You do you.”

His innate pursuit of improved efficiency surfaced even in his first job at Wabash Valley Power Alliance. A tip from his brother-in-law, Wabash Valley employee Rob Mann, resulted in Willis’ hiring as a PC support specialist on the help desk. But he wasn’t content to just sit and wait for phone calls and emails, nor did he have to be. ”Basically, if I wasn’t busy answering questions, I could do whatever I wanted,” he said. And what he wanted was to revise the help desk’s software language.

That kind of impulse put his career on the rise, first to the position of systems analyst. Then, in 2007, he decided a job as manager of information technology “sounded fun to me,” so he headed for Tipmont REMC. A series of promotions elevated him to manager of business operations in 2016, and two years later, he became vice president of information services at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. He’s been at Boone REMC since 2021.

The son of a nondenominational church pastor, Willis frequently finds himself in a similar role at office functions. “I’m the Prayer Guy,” he quipped. “If there are prayers before a meeting, they always ask me to pray.”

Though he found his passion in information technology, it’s not tech itself that motivates him. “I realize my superpower is digging in and understanding the complex, then being able to turn that around and help you use it in your day-to-day life,” he said. “I get my highs making somebody’s job easier and life better.”

Willis expects the same kind of passion in the people who come to work at Boone REMC. He looks to fill job openings with candidates who, without needing direction, display the “inherent initiative” to identify problems and find solutions.

If that sounds a lot like the college kid who once bought a programming manual at a used bookstore, it’s probably no accident. When it comes to building his team at Boone REMC, a proactive mindset goes a long way in Willis’ book: “I’m looking for people who solve things that weren’t their responsibility.”

1999 HIRED

PC Support Specialist, Help Desk

2001 PROMOTED

Systems Analyst

2007 HIRED

Manager of Information Technology

2010 PROMOTED

Manager of Technology and Communications

2014 PROMOTED

Manager of Technology and Member Engagement

2016 PROMOTED

Manager of Business Operations

2018 Hired

Vice President of Information Services

2021 Hired

Vice President of Corporate Development and Technology