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Phillip Carrai ’83

Phillip Carrai '83Phillip Carrai first developed an interest in computers in high school.

“I had a computer class that I thought was really cool,” Carrai said. “I got my first crack at programming on an old Honeywell mainframe, and I loved it!”

Carrai decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in information systems and accounting at IUP.

“I always liked business and business-oriented things,” Carrai said, “so I thought accounting would give me a good background in understanding the ‘math’ behind business, plus with majors in IS and Accounting, maybe it would be easier getting that first job.”

Carrai said he had a great set of teachers while at IUP. “From my IT professors, to accounting, to a great economics professor and even my liberal arts classes in logic and English, where I really was forced to reason and think,” Carrai said. “To this day, I still use things my Intermediate Accounting professor taught me to poke our auditors and accountants.”

He has witnessed many changes in technology since graduating from IUP in 1983. Carrai said that one of the questions students were taught to ask prospective employers when applying for programming jobs was, “Do they still use just punched cards?”

“Then IBM introduced the PC, and Apple introduced the Mac shortly after,” Carrai said. “Going from that mindset to where my 80-year-old mother now uses an iPad for watching her soaps and sharing photos with her grandkids—that’s dramatic! The societal and business impact across every sector has been amazing, and nothing you could have predicted in 1983.” 

After graduation, Carrai started as a systems analysts for Alcoa, then held various positions in software, products, private equity, mobile media, and businesses while obtaining an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1989. He has been president of the Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, Inc., Technology and Training Solutions Division since December 2009, after being executive vice president of the same division from July 2008 to December 2009. At Kratos, Carrai is responsible for all aspects of business operations, sales, mergers, and acquisitions, and his group focuses on specialized communication and training products and cybersecurity services. 

Carrai also serves as a board member and advisor to various northern Virginia emerging technology companies, which he said he loves doing.

“The coolest thing is helping someone position and package their idea,” Carrai said, “see them getting traction and success with customers, and ultimately, in some cases, change their lives financially and professionally. It’s cool stuff that keeps me going.”

As a member of the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2008, currently serving as vice president, Carrai said that being recognized as a distinguished alumnus is a great honor.

“To be part of this group of inductees and part of the larger group of past inductees, with the achievements across so many disciplines, is just humbling, frankly, for a kid from New Kensington.”

Profile published on 4/10/14

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