Michael Marus

Enterprise Application Solutions Architect, CGXchange 2.0, CGMap

Michael Marus
Michael Marus

It was the pursuit of a simpler life and a love for all things Italian that brought Michael Marus to Italy in 2004. Packing up his bags and leaving behind a stressful job with a large corporation was all too easy for this US citizen, especially since he and his wife Conni, a native Italian, had decided it was time to start a family away from the hustle and bustle that is New York City.

“My father’s family hails from northern Italy,” explains Michael when asked why he felt drawn to the country. “I’d always had this dream of moving here. I like the lifestyle, the people and the culture. When I first arrived here, I gave myself eight months to get established. If I couldn’t get a job in that time, I told myself I would return to my position at Citigroup in New York.”

As things turned out, though, Michael found work almost immediately with a GIS company in the The Marches region (Le Marche), where his wife’s family lives. A few months later, he was offered the position of Informations Systems Architect and Project Manager with the World Food Program (WFP). He packed his bags once more and headed for Rome.

After four years at the WFP, Michael was considering other work opportunities when he had a chance conversation with Antonella Pastore, the CGXchange Project Leader.

“Through Antonella, I learned that the ICT-KM Program was looking for someone to work on the development of a few of its projects,” explains Michael. “So I jumped at the opportunity.”

As the Program’s Enterprise Application Solutions Architect, Michael is charged with building and developing system and application architectures for CGMap and EasyMTP, thereby creating structured information for the applications that can be managed systematically.

Michael talks enthusiastically about his work with the Program. “Not only does CGMap provide the Science Council with the necessary MTP information, but it also gives CGIAR staff a powerful tool that can be used to, for example, link projects to locations on a map, and filter output targets for a given country or for a given year. Because the information is now structured, it can be used collaboratively and is inter-operable with other systems. The possibilities are huge.”

Although the information Michaels deals with at the ICT-KM Program is vastly different from that of the WFP and Citigroup, his work is basically the same. However, the same can’t be said for his surroundings.

Although Rome may be far away from New York City, it is even further away from Michael’s home town. White Hall is a small town in rural Arkansas not far from Little Rock, the hometown of former US President Bill Clinton. Michael lived in White Hall (population 2000) for the first 18 years of his life, until he enrolled at the University of Arkansas 350 kilometers away to study mathematics and music.

“Music has always been a passion in my life,” says Michael, “but so has mathematics. So I studied both. After completing my double major, I spent two years in Philadelphia at a conservatory, where I got my masters in music. After that, I decided that it would better to make a living using my mathematical background rather than my musical ability, thus my chosen career path.”

Since coming to Rome, Michael and Conni have realized their dream of starting a family. They are now the proud parents of three beautiful girls.

These days, most of Michael’s spare time is spent with his family; hanging out at the park with his girls or playing with them at home. When he has the time, though, he also likes to cook.

“I took a cooking course once in The Marches,” says this versatile man. “And each lesson began with the same phrase, “più semplice, più buono”, which translated into English means ‘The simpler, the better’. This fits in nicely with my philosophy – and not just with regard to cooking, but also my general outlook on life.”

The good people of White Hall must be proud that one of their own has come so far without losing his hometown values.