Tech CxO Excellence Certificate

For tech leaders, by tech leaders

Embark on a transformational journey with tenured industry experts and immerse yourself in a dynamic, face-to-face program where you'll engage with influential guest speakers, collaborate on innovative projects, expand your network, and gain the skills needed to be a C-level tech leader.

Take the next step in your professional development by completing the SMU Tech CxO Excellence Certificate program, where you will gain a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to excel in C-suite roles in the tech sector.

What You'll Learn

Through interactive sessions featuring guest speakers, networking opportunities, and engaging collaborative group projects, you will embark on a journey to grasp the essence of becoming a C-level tech executive. Here, you’ll develop:
SMU’s global alumni organization

Risk Management Expertise:

Develop a strong expertise in mitigating cyber threats and effectively managing risks, which is crucial for safeguarding your organization's assets and upholding its reputation.

Acquire the in-demand skills

Comprehensive Knowledge:

Gain insights into the multifaceted world of tech leadership from accomplished industry executives.
World-class reputation of SMU

Financial Acumen:

Gain financial skills for making informed decisions, which is indispensable for making strategic decisions that propel your company toward success and sustainable growth.
SMU’s deep ties to industry

Leadership and Performance Management Skills:

Learn the art of effectively managing and motivating your team, including setting clear performance expectations, and nurturing relationships, enhancing your capacity to lead a high-performing and cohesive team.
Prepared to impress, earn respect and succeed

Networking Skills:

In the digital age, networking goes beyond mere contact collection; it's about building meaningful relationships. The Tech CxO Excellence Certificate Program encourages active participation in the opportunities presented in each module by demonstrating authentic interest in others and providing value to your connections.

Program Expectations 

Through this four-month program, you’ll learn essential C-level tech skills to help you innovate, manage, and lead your company to excellence and long-term success.

The Tech CxO Excellence Certificate Program will meet in person for a day and a half every month over four months.

Let's Get Started

Complete the form below to get started.

Questions? Call 214-768-1086

Program Details

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Program Duration

4 months

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Start Date

September 5
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Program Format

In person

Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Once a month for 4 months

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Priority tuition: $11,249 expires 8/22/24

Standard tuition: $11,749

Career Benefits

Enrolling in the Tech CxO Excellence Certificate Program is a strategic decision that can transform your career and professional trajectory. Register today if you seek:

Career Advancement: Completing a leadership education program like the SMU Tech CxO Excellence Certificate can create pathways to career advancement within your current organization or elevate your appeal as a candidate for leadership positions in other companies.

Increased Earning Potential: Mastering advanced leadership and strategic skills often translates into an enhanced earning capacity. C-suite executives typically command competitive salaries, and the skills you acquire in the SMU Tech CxO Excellence Certificate program are directly applicable to these coveted roles.

Expanded Professional Network: Within this program, you'll seize opportunities to connect with peers, industry experts, and trailblazing instructors. Cultivating a strong professional network can open doors to collaborations and innovative solutions.

Enhanced Leadership Skills: This program designed to enhance your leadership capabilities, which can be invaluable in leading teams, departments, or entire organizations. Effective leadership skills can lead to more successful and satisfying careers.



Learn why the SMU Tech CxO Excellence Certificate program is a dual track to success.

Who Should Enroll?

The Tech CxO Excellence Certificate Program is ideal for current CxOs driving to a higher level of leadership excellence, high potential tech leaders on the fast track to a CxO role, and executives who work closely with tech teams. If you're looking to enhance your skills, grow your career, and make a significant impact on your organization's tech strategy, this program is for you.

Participants include:

  • Tech managers or directors ready to move to the C-suite
  • New C-suite members
  • Anyone who works closely with tech leadership or tech thought leaders

Why SMU?

  • SMU Continuing and Professional Education has offered noncredit learning programs since 1953.
  • This program is specifically created by tech leaders, for tech leaders with real-world experience.
  • The collaborative learning environment of the Tech CxO program allows you to grow your professional network, share ideas, and build a sense of community with other participants.
  • When you successfully complete the Tech CxO program, you will be issued a digital badge and SMU certificate through Credly.

Instructor Expertise

Through SMU CAPE, you can feel assured you will receive high quality education, with a curriculum that’s developed and delivered by current and form technology executives from leading organizations that include Brinks, CEC Entertainment, DART, DFW Airport, MIC Global, NCH Corporation, NTT DATA, Southwest Airlines and Trinity Industries.

Meet Your Instructors

Instructor Trude Van Horn

Trude Van Horn

Inducted in 2023 to the Tech Titans Hall of Fame. Winner of Inspire CIO’s 2021 Dallas / North Texas Global ORBIE CIO of the Year. Winner of SEI’s 2020 Women in IT - Luminary Award. These are just a few of the awards and a highlight of the recognition that Trude Van Horn has received in her decades-long career as a veteran global IT executive.
Trude is most proud of tremendous contributions to corporate IT transformation activities, impactful technology cost savings and cost avoidance accomplishments, elevating corporate culture, developing high performance teams, empowering women in the workplace and developing the next generation of IT leaders.
Trude is the current EVP/Global CIO at Rimini Street. Previously, she spent a decade in chemicals and global manufacturing as CIO at NCH Corporation, along with a diverse career in other industries. She spent a significant portion of her IT career in retail for Victoria’s Secret, Office Depot, Jo-Ann Stores, and Haggar Clothing Company. She credits much of her professional success to the strong leadership foundation she built early in her career while working at industry giants, American Express and JPMorgan.

Trude is a favorite speaker and moderator at technology forums. Along with a group of peer executives, she has built curriculum for the SMU Tech CxO Leadership Certificate program. She is highly engaged in organizations that provide technology executives the opportunity for development, candid discussion, access to technology innovation and future trends in tech. Trude participates on many advisory boards such as DallasCIO (former Chair), Evanta, SIM, the DFW Alliance of Technology and Women (DFW ATW), Technology Ball, and is an investor in Prime Women Media. She is a member of the Dallas Innovation Advisory Council of Vation Ventures. She is a Board Member of Tech Genies, a software development and staffing partner with resources across the globe. She is a proud member of IWF, an invitation-only network of the most accomplished women in the world.

Trude challenges and empowers leaders, feels an obligation to invest in encouraging, mentoring and developing the next generation of technology executives, and is passionate about encouraging more women to lead in technology careers.

Born and raised outside of Philadelphia, Trude is a graduate of Temple University and currently resides in Irving, Texas, with her husband. She loves golf, books, pets, travel, and time with family and friends.

Kris Fitzgerald

Kris Fitzgerald

Kris has over 44 years of progressive experience in the IT sector in various industries spanning technology, including EFT, telecom, health care, staffing, loyalty, manufacturing, professional services, retail, banking, public sector and higher education.

As the former Chief Technology Officer for NTT DATA Inc., Kris led NTT DATA’s R&D and innovation programs, leveraging NTT Group R&D and related investments to deliver client impact. This included strategy development, innovation and solutions for large healthcare payer, private university, oldest bank in the Americas, global manufacturer, global professional services firm, global staffing company, large bottler and others.

Kris has held numerous executive delivery roles throughout his career allowing him to provide unique perspective to dynamic client environments including CDO Manpower, Head of eBusiness Alliance Data, CDO Office Max, CIO Octel, SVP of Product Management for large Point of Sale company.

Additionally, Kris is Chairman of the Executive Council for the UTD Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, member of the Computer Science Advisory board, and a guest lecturer with topics including AI for Healthcare, Innovation, Strategy, Tech Trends and Business Impact, Leading Global Teams.
Kris is also an advisor to several start-up companies in the Global Staffing, AI and ML Ops, and AI powered HC markets. Kris also builds houses for Habitat for Humanity.

Kris takes great pride and enjoyment in helping senior IT and business executives realize the promise of todays and tomorrow’s technology to achieve their business and personal goals.

Trey Smith

Trey Smith

Trey Smith is a passionate IT leader, having held CTO and CIO positions in an over 20 year career. Throughout his life, Trey has been lucky enough to work with just about every aspect of technology: burning holes in Mom’s carpet while soldering robots together, writing software, architecting networks, building a giant Tesla coil, and gaining patents for Voice over IP technology. Once a nerd, always a nerd! Trey’s most recent Enterprise role was to lead teams to provide IT to four very different companies, all at the same time at over 100 locations: an aviation company that fills fuel into private jets all around the country, a tank terminal company that stores everything from vegetable oil to marine fuel, the natural gas utility for the state of Hawaii, and a wind/solar conglomerate. Trey is typically responsible for Information Security, Computing, Networking, Software Development, Service Desk, and IT Field Operations. But building and leading great teams and helping people are what motivates Trey the most!

Nayan Patel

Nayan Patel

Nayan Patel is a Managing Director at Avis Advisors with expertise in IT strategy, governance, M&A, and service management operations. He has held executive leadership roles at Neudesic (an IBM Company), Baptist Health, Valley Baptist Medical Center, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, and Baylor Scott & White Health supporting physician, nursing and community leaders.

As a senior tech executive, Nayan is passionate about leveraging a transparent leadership style that advocates the use of technology to improve the health of humans.
He has 25+ years of experience in the IT industry leading successful large-scale projects, change management and IT Operations through COVID. Nayan is a pragmatic thinker with an appetite for improving the end user experience while delivering high quality service to clinical, business, and technology operations. He has led multiple enterprise initiatives, modernized IT infrastructure, completed M&A of two hospitals, implemented EHRs (electronic health records), established ITIL processes for enhanced IT incident response, app availability, and customer service and developed a cloud migration strategy for a business continuity and disaster recovery process.

Nayan is a proud faculty member of CHIME University, and routinely mentors early careerists through ACHE, CHIME, HIMSS and other national Health IT associations. A firm believer in giving back to the community, he is a board member of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) IT Operations Management (ITOM) Advisory Board, Medtronic Hospital IT Advisory Board, the University of Texas-Dallas Healthcare Management Advisory Council, and Dallas Fort Worth HIMSS.

Neelu Sethi

Neelu Sethi

Neelu Sethi is the SVP & Global Chief Information Officer of Brinks Inc, a leading global provider of cash and valuables management, digital retail solutions, and ATM managed services serving customers in 100+ Countries along with ~72K Employees across ~1300 Facilities.

With reputation of a proven servant leader, Neelu has ~30 years of experience in CPG, Hospitality, Healthcare and Textile industries. She is known for delivering business results by engaging people. She has been recognized as 2023 CIO of the year Orbie Award winner, 2022 CIO Of the Year Tech Titan Award winner, Top 15 Business Women in Dallas, 2019 Women In Technology award honoree by Dallas Business Journal, 2018 Stevie Gold Digital Transformer of the Year winner of American Business Awards, 2018 CGT’s IT Excellence Award winner, 2018 Dallas Power 50 Awardee, 2019 & 2020, Orbie CIO Finalist and 2020 Tech Titans CIO Finalist. As a business technologist, Neelu offers a unique blend of executive acumen, global team-enablement and driving transformation through innovative, problem solving and value creation culture.

Prior to joining Brinks, Neelu held various executive positions with Reddy Ice, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Cadbury Schweppes, ClubCorp and McKesson. She has successfully led IT Operations across Corporate, Commercial and Supply Chain functions including Logistics, Manufacturing, Warehousing, Engineering, Procurement, Consumer Relations, Facilities and Environmental Health & Safety. Her achievements extend across numerous disciplines including strategy, driving innovation, digital transformation, delivering complex system implementations and enterprise-wide IT operations including Mergers & Acquisitions.

Neelu holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Applications from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), India and a Master’s degree in Mathematics from Delhi University, India. She is an active participant of the CIO Technology Executive Network, National Diversity & Inclusion Forums, Women Leadership Groups and serves as a board member of several non-profit organizations. She lives in Dallas with her husband and their son.

Mike Youngs

Michael Youngs

Michael Youngs is the Vice President of Information Technology Systems at Dallas Ft Worth International Airport (DFW.) In this capacity, he provides business and customer-focused technology leadership for the continued development of an innovative, robust, and secure technology program supporting the complex business and operational needs of DFW International Airport. The primary responsibilities include support for application delivery and development, IT infrastructure and services, information security and compliance, enterprise systems, and client support services.

Youngs represents DFW’s information technology interests by participating in industry associations such as the American Association of Aviation Executives and Airport Council International as a member of the Business and Information Technology Working Group. Mr. Youngs also participates locally in the “Technology Ball” helping to raise funds for STEM education while providing networking opportunities for leaders in the DFW Information Technology Community.
Prior to joining DFW, Youngs spent 25 years in information technology roles. Most recently as the Deputy Director for Technology at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Mr. Youngs holds a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems from Michigan State University.

Julius Smith

Julius Smith

Dr. Julius Smith serves on the Tech CxO Excellence Program Advisory Board, building the next generation of C-Level Tech Execs. He is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). In this role, Dr. Smith oversees the leadership and strategic direction for DART’s technology systems and identifies opportunities to support the Agency’s expansive transit network through the applications of cybersecurity, digital technology, data science and governance, automation, and enhancing the employee and customer experience.

Before joining DART, he served in executive roles in the Department of Defense. He has also served as a Chief Information Security Officer in his career. Dr. Smith, a proven technology leader, has a vast record of technology leadership, operations performance, project delivery, and innovation. He brings over thirty years of extensive experience in technology, building strong collaborations and partnerships across federal, public, and private sectors. He is a retired US military, decorated combat veteran, and awarded the Bronze Star Medal (BSM) for meritorious service in a combat zone.
Dr. Smith earned his doctorate from Regent University School of Business, obtained security and technology certifications throughout his career, and is a Prosci-certified Organizational Change Management Practitioner. He served on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Cybersecurity Master of Science program Advisory Board. He graduated from the SMU Cox School of Business Executive Education and the Information Technology Senior Management Forum Executive Academy. Dr. Smith is an American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Leadership APTA Executive Program member. Dr. Smith is the winner of the 2023 IBM MaximoWorld Best Implementation Award. He is a 2023 Orbie Award DallasCIO Finalist and a 2023 Information Technology Senior Management Forum Executive of the Year Finalist. He was recognized as the Technology leader as DART was named the American Public Transportation Association's (APTA) 2019 Innovation Award winner for its national GoPass app, the nation's first public transit ticket-purchasing app.

He is the American Public Transportation Association Chair for the Enterprise Cyber Security Working Group (ECSWG). He serves on the DallasCIO Advisory Board and is an appointed State of Texas Cyber Security Council member. He serves on the Dallas CISO Governing Body and Board leadership of the CIO Transit Consortium. Additionally, he is a board member for One Man’s Treasure. This local Dallas-Fort Worth non-profit organization seeks to empower men recently released from Texas state prisons who come to the Dallas and Fort Worth area by providing them with food and clothing and opportunities for networking.

Financing Options

Continuing Education Loan

Students may qualify for a Smart Option Student Loan, offered by Sallie Mae.

Your Sallie Mae Loan application must be completed and approved 14 days before the first day of the program. Loan amount cannot exceed 125% the cost of tuition.

Payment Plans

Payment plans are available for this program, so that you don’t have pay in full at the time of registration.

Select the “Payment Plan” option on the program application questionnaire to get started.
Payment plan requests must be submitted and approved no less than 14 days before the first day of class.

Employer Funding

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement. Ask your supervisor or HR representative if this benefit is available to you.

SMU CAPE certificate programs are eligible for tuition benefits through Guild.
If your company participates, visit and enter the school name as "Southern Methodist University" to find this certificate program.


Program Content Summary


Module I: Expectations, Leadership, Organization, and Governance
Module 2: Quintessential IT, Cybersecurity and Managing Risk
Module 3: Financial Planning and Partnering for Success
Module 4: Leadership Excellence, Managing Performance, Personal Engagement


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Earn a Digital Badge

Complete your certificate and earn a digital badge to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
The Tech CxO Excellence Program is a joint program launched by SMU and Tech CxO Launchpad.
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