IBE Alumni Spotlight – Zach Cowen

Meet Zach Cowen. A recent graduate from the Class of Spring 2018.

Major: Industrial & Systems Engineering // Minor: Business

Hometown: Hilliard, OH

Previous Internships/Co-Ops:


  1. Application Developer (Summer 2017)
  2. Automated Test Analyst (Summer 2016)
  3. Test Analyst (Summer 2015)

Zach liked the location of Nationwide (Columbus, family, friends, familiarity) and also enjoyed exploring the different roles and opportunities within Nationwide. 

OSU Involvements:

In the Spring of 2017, Zach started the Buckeye Mudder Club after finding no luck when searching for a Tough Mudder related organization on campus. The club originated with 10-15 members but quickly grew to 40 members last semester. They were able to send over half of their members to a Tough Mudder event in North Carolina this past October. Tough Mudders are unique in that “everyone works together as a team to overcome obstacles and get to the finish, not caring about the finishing time or place.

Reason for Ohio State

Zach came to Ohio State for its proximity to home and family as well as its strong Engineering reputation.

How did you hear about the IBE program and why did you choose it?

Zach heard about the IBE program when his mother saw a post on Ohio State’s website during college applications. Immediately, he knew the program would be a good fit for his dual interests in engineering and business.

Please explain a specific instance you felt what you learned in IBE was really making an impact.

During his first summer at nationwide as test analyst, he developed automated testing scripts for policy holders. In this role, he utilized the principles of IBE by explaining the technical details to business-oriented people, so they could provide a list of his needs and explain the system functionality to others. 

What’s your favorite class you took because of IBE?

Zach’s favorite class was the IBE Innovation Management Seminar (BUSMHR 3400) taught by Professor Leiblein because he could learn about the extensive opportunities within technology and also the different perspectives in decision making through case studies. 

Did you always know you wanted to work in tech?

Initially, Zach came in as a Computer Science major, but he later switched to ISE once he realized he could utilize some of his Computer Science and Programming background in applications to bigger problems and systems. He wanted to use his tools to make decisions and fix problems.

What is your favorite IBE moment/memory?

Zach’s favorite IBE moment was freshman year, when he worked with his team to develop a canoe portaging device. “[The project] helped set the stage for bigger projects and other future classes.  It was a crash course in four months of developing a project, testing it, and designing a business model around it.”

What are your after graduation plans?

Zach will be starting full time at Nationwide as an Application Developer where he will work on web development for Nationwide’s Investment’s departments (specifically real estate investments).

How did IBE help you secure this position?/What do you plan on applying that you learned in IBE in your job?

“IBE helped with the networking. Making connections within and outside of my department so that I have people to talk to all across the company and find common ground with people of different backgrounds.”

What kind of impact do you see IBE making in the future?

“Having people who understand how to talk to people on both sides of projects. Being able to talk to technical people from the business side helps with making high level decisions and keeps the technology-side of things moving.”

What’s something you want to say to IBE underclassmen?

“Keep going at it even if it isn’t your favorite class right now. You’ll still take away stuff from it and apply it in future classes, projects, teams.”


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