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Chirantan ‘CJ' Desai

Chirantan ‘CJ' Desai

Chief product officer | ServiceNow | Class of 1995

He’s said it before, and he’ll say it plenty more times again: No one did more to help show two-degree UI grad Chirantan 'CJ' Desai the way than the late, great Dr. Paul Handler.

“When I first met distinguished, smart, but very unassuming and kind Professor Handler in his office at the Loomis Lab in the fall of 1993, I came away humbled and inspired,” says ServiceNow’s chief product officer, who earned his master’s in computer science and MBA in business administration from the Gies College of Business.

“He was looking for a graduate student to help with enhancing a very sophisticated long-range climate forecasting model that he had developed and evolved. He showed me how his forecasts from this model were used widely by many Fortune 500 firms ranging from consumer products, investment banks, hedge funds and agricultural businesses, among many others.

“I worked for Dr. Handler till I graduated from Illinois. He introduced me to many other distinguished faculty from College of Engineering and specifically Computer Science. He was also very astute and provided guidance and mentorship on what kind of internships I should pursue, including my first job post-graduation.

“I am very fortunate that I interacted and worked under someone like Dr. Handler and will be always grateful to him and the University of Illinois for many opportunities they created for me.”