Meet JM Allain — our latest Agent of Change profile


“If you don’t embrace change, you will likely be left behind. You must take a leap of faith and translate all this acquired data into your own view of the world and the future of your industry. If you fall, dust yourself off and forge on. It’s what a leader of change does.”

We’re kicking off 2015 with the latest in our series of Agents of Change — that is, RIT alums who have made waves wherever they’ve ventured. As we ramp up RIT Online for 2015 with an expanded selection of courses for a wider range of industries, it’s fitting that this year’s first Agent of Change is someone who was an early pioneer of distance learning.

If there were an award for Overcoming E-Learning Adversity, Jean-Marc (JM) Allain would certainly be a worthy recipient. After graduating in the 90s from high school in New York, he went straight into the workforce as a telecommunications engineer for Alcatel. He was quickly assigned to work on jobs in far-flung locations around the world, and thrived on the fast pace of networking and telecoms. He quickly realized that he needed to boost his technical expertise in an industry that was one of the fastest-moving tech sectors at the time, and signed up for a BS in Applied Arts & Science from Center for Multidisciplinary Studies. He opted for the distance-learning version of the degree so he could weave the studying into his schedule.

If you cast your mind back to the mid-90s, you’ll recall that the Internet was in its really early, formative stages. And you’ll probably also fondly remember the joys of dial-up connections, modems, weird telephone plugs you needed to jack into the phone network. And how slow it all was. Distance learning back then meant videotapes, and JM watched literally hundreds of them over the four years it too to attain his degree.

But attain he did, and he went on to rise through the ranks of Alcatel, then on to Panasonic USA, and finally to president and CEO of Trans-Lux, where he is leading the charge as that company changes the face of digital signage and massive displays.

Follow this link to read more about JM and his interesting experiences as an Extreme Distance Learner.

Thérèse Hannigan

About Thérèse Hannigan

Director, RIT Online