Small and Simple Things

PROVO, Utah – Jan 27, 2020 – Whether it’s keeping bees or mentoring students, Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology academic director and BYU Marriott professor of information systems Steve Liddle enjoys the simple but powerful things in life.

While being raised in San Jose, California, Liddle discovered a love for computers and developing software after his father brought home a microcomputer kit. “Computers are a bug that bit me at a young age,” says Liddle. “I always knew that computer science was where I wanted to be, and I love developing software.”

After his family moved to Utah for his last two years of high school, Liddle became involved in software development startups with a group of high school friends. “Some friends and I at Pleasant Grove High School put together a little company and did some small-scale work. After my mission, I jumped right back into the startup world and went to work for one of my friend's startups,” says Liddle.

After graduating in 1990 with a BS in computer science from BYU, Liddle realized he wanted to further his education to better qualify to work in the startup world. “I have something in my blood about startups,” says Liddle. “To do the intricate, deep work I wanted to do in my startups, I needed a more detailed understanding of some of the CS concepts,” says Liddle.

Liddle completed his PhD in computer science at BYU in 1995 and was recruited to join the IS faculty upon completion. “I wondered if a CS guy would fit in at BYU Marriott, but my entrepreneurial background blended with my CS education and turned out to be a great combination to make for a good fit with BYU Marriott,” he says.

In 2009, Liddle became the academic director of the BYU Marriott's Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, a center that provides resources to help students develop their startups. “The Rollins Center is an opportunity for me to learn more to help build our entrepreneurial ecosystem by mentoring students,” says Liddle.

Liddle has been able to combine his passions for developing software and working in the startup world with his work at the Rollins Center. “I have real-world, software-development experience, and I've had good experiences with the startups that I've been involved in,” says Liddle. “I can share the lessons I've learned in a way that is helpful to other people.”

At the Rollins Center and in the classroom, Liddle expects his students to be innovators. “Here at BYU Marriott, we train leaders,” says Liddle. “We don't expect our students to go out and be average. We expect our students to lead and to add value to their companies.”

At home, Liddle enjoys the small but meaningful things in life. You can find him spending time with his family, which includes his wife, Melody, and their six children and four grandchildren. Or you might just find him tending to his two beehives in his backyard, a hobby he has had for the past five years.

“My bees make the most delicious honey you've ever tasted,” says Liddle. “I love the sound and the smell of bees buzzing around. You open the hive, and there's this swarm of activity. I’ve just enjoyed the whole adventure.”

You can also find Liddle riding his motorcycle to and from work. “Riding a motorcycle is a nice way to feel the air flowing past,” says Liddle. “When you ride, you get this feeling of freedom, especially on the curvy roads where you lean into the curves, and it feels like you're flying.  One of these days, I'll have to grow up and sell it, but today’s not that day.”

Last year, Liddle was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award by BYU Marriott for his contributions to the college and the Rollins Center. “This award represents every time I watch a student see the light bulb come on and it clicks, every time somebody says, ‘Yeah, we love your paper and accept this manuscript,’ every time I go to devotional, every time the Rollins Center collaborates with the engineering college or other entities on campus, and every time I share in class the spiritual experiences I’ve had,” says Liddle. “When I received the award for outstanding faculty last year that was a highlight, but really it represents other moments—the small but powerful things.”

Professor Steve Liddle.
Professor Steve Liddle. Photo Courtesy Steve Liddle.
Steve Liddle enjoys beekeeping.
Steve Liddle enjoys beekeeping. Photo Courtesy Steve Liddle.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kate Monroe