UM Information Systems Professor Named Montana Ambassador Educator of the Year

Oct. 13, 2020


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MISSOULA – The Montana Ambassadors named University of Montana professor of management information systems (MIS) in the College of Business, Dr. David Firth, the 2020 Mike Malone Educator of the Year. Firth was presented the award virtually on Oct. 8 at the Montana Ambassadors Awards Ceremony.

“To be even noticed in this role of educating our College of Business students is deeply gratifying, but to be recognized by the Montana Ambassadors and Montana Governor Bullock is truly humbling and I am deeply honored to be able to represent the College of Business and the University of Montana,” Firth said. “Our new dean, Suzanne Tilleman, is a leader when it comes to helping tomorrow-proof our students, and I am happy to be a part of her team.”

The Montana Ambassadors is a volunteer, nonprofit organization of leaders in business, education, and local and state government with a common dedication to living and doing business in Montana and to furthering the best interests of the state.

The focus of Dr. Firth's teaching and student advising is all about helping MIS majors, and often other majors, get great careers in the field of MIS. As a Managing Director in the information systems consulting practice of KPMG in San Francisco, Dr. Firth helped his clients solve their business problems. Now, Dr. Firth helps his students get great careers, often in this very same information systems consulting world.

One major local company where many of his MIS students go upon graduation is Advanced Technology Group (ATG), a Cognizant Company. Firth helped cultivate this ground-breaking relationship between ATG and UM, which has led to over 250 high-paying tech jobs in Montana, and continues to grow.

Firth also helped develop, and now co-teaches, the All-In Missoula (AIM) program, which is a partnership between UM and Cognizant. The AIM program takes under-employed graduates, mainly from UM, and in 12-weeks transforms them into technology consultants on the Salesforce platform.  Almost 100 students have graduated from this program, with another 100 planned over the coming year.

“Technology transformation of business has exploded during 2020 and employees who understand business and technology are at the heart of this change,” Firth added. “Management Information Systems is all about solving business problems with technology, and our graduates in MIS are highly sought after to help companies solve their problems.”

Firth’s research primarily focuses on two main aspects: improving teaching within the information systems major, and how consulting firms impact the adoption of information technology. Firth has published very successful research papers on both topics that have been widely distributed among the information systems and collegiate communities.

Along with teaching and research, Dr. Firth is also involved with several start-up and tech transfer companies in Missoula. One of which, Bee Alert Technology, Inc., trains bees to find landmines and is a key player in the search for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder which has already killed 50 percent of the nation's bees.

Prior to UM, Dr. Firth worked in the private sector for Ernst & Young in London as an assurance manager in the financial services audit division specializing in financial derivatives. On the firm's International Exchange program, Firth moved to the U.S. and subsequently joined KPMG LLP in their audit division in San Francisco. Firth was transferred to the Information Risk Management (IRM) practice as an information systems consultant. There he contributed significantly to the development of the IRM Transfer University, an intensive training program that teaches auditors and new hires the necessary skills to be an information systems consultant. As part of his client service responsibilities with KPMG, he served major companies such as Visa and Wells Fargo.

To learn more about the MIS program at the University of Montana, visit the College of Business website (

For more information on the Montana Ambassadors, visit




The University of Montana is the flagship university of the state. The College of Business at UM is nationally renowned and has been named the top business school in the Big Sky Conference by U.S. News and World Report for five consecutive years.