Meet Bob Muhn, the new CAO working with shared services for OTDI. This ‘design thinking’ innovator likes to be sure human needs lead technology improvements, and he’s thrilled for the opportunity to innovate at Ohio State. Bob isn’t quite sure what he wants to be when he grows up—making a college campus the perfect fit! This former sailing instructor is now an avid golfer and family man. When he’s not in your Zoom meeting, you might find him and his family on a nature walk, or daydreaming about the next time they can hit up The Avenue in Grandview.
Q: What is your role at the university? Chief Administrative Officer for the OTDI
Q: How long have you worked at Ohio State? This is my first role at Ohio State and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Q. How do you create and innovate? I am a big believer in the Design Thinking process. This approach leverages empathy, ideation, and experimentation, and focuses on the unmet needs of the people you are creating for when developing an innovation. The first question you should ask when creating or implementing a technology is, "what is the human need behind it?"
Q: Did you always know this is what you wanted to do as a career? I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Going to college everyday delays the need to decide, right?
Q. How did your career path bring you to work for us? I’ve spent the last 6 years in the tech start-up world, helping to build businesses from the ground up. The entrepreneurial spirit of these companies was incredible. We lived by the mantra of “1-lifeboat,” meaning we were all in it together and wore whatever hat was necessary to get the job done. I learned to make decisions with Colin Powell’s 40/70 rule, gathering no less than 40% and no more than 70% of the information you need to make a decision. This philosophy not only kept us agile, but empowered my teams to trust their intuition. Ohio State looks to the Office of the CIO for thought leadership, and my experiences will provide a unique and fresh perspective.
Q. Why did you choose to work at Ohio State? At this point in my career, I am determined to work in a role that creates and enhances opportunities for young people to grow. Very candidly, here is my litmus test...will my 7- and 10-year-old boys, who can easily understand the idea of helping others, appreciate and respect what I do for a job?
Q. Of what are you most proud? My dedication to raising my boys to be kind, compassionate, and grateful.
Q: What was your very first job? I was a sailing instructor at Sandusky Sailing Club. I had no idea how great I had it!
Q: Where did you go to college? Miami University
Q: Where are you from originally? Sandusky, Ohio
Q: What is your favorite place to visit? We are a South Carolina family. My wife and I have both been vacationing there since we were in diapers.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? New Zealand. It’s the sailing mecca!
Q: Can you tell us about your family? I am married to my amazing wife, Emily, and we have two very active boys, Finn and Kirby. Emily is a clinical psychologist and, along with her two business partners, owns Metta Psychology Group in Upper Arlington. Finn and Kirby love all things sports, especially UA Swim Club and Bearcub baseball. As a family, we love spending time in nature, playing catch, taking our dog Georgie to the dog park, and golfing.
Q. What do you do for fun outside of work? Do you have any hobbies? I love to golf and for several years played on the Golf Channel Amateur Tour. I also love to go sailing and boating any chance I can get up in Sandusky with my family.
Q. What kinds of things are you passionate about outside of work? Coaching youth sports has been personally very rewarding and meaningful to me—I love helping the kids work together and build confidence.
Q: What is something most people might be surprised to know about you? In college, I had the amazing opportunity to intern with the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q: Favorite place to eat in Columbus? The Avenue, Grandview location
Q: Best concert you’ve ever been to? Hands down, Kid Rock. I’ve seen him open twice for the headline bands that I bought tickets for, and he stole both shows!
Q: Favorite quote? “Adversity elicits talents that under prosperous circumstances would have remained dormant.” I believe the Roman poet, Horace, is credited with first writing a version of this, but it was my Miami University athletic director that I heard it from.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or movie? The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy
Q: It’s 9 p.m. on a Saturday. What are you doing? Finishing off a pizza and headed to bed. (Ha!) In an ideal situation, on a date night with my wife and friends, laughing our heads off.
Q: Give three adjectives that best describe yourself. Enthusiastic, Curious, Empathetic