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20 Under 30: Jack Cate

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Our "20 Under 30" interview series with the coolest Angelenos under 30 continues (don't despair, we're almost done) with an interview with Jack Cate. A third party nominated Jack with this description: "Why they're cool: Jack's developing embedded electronic systems, handling IT for an international firm, and being a father to 3 kids. He's just 28 years old and on the fast track. He's been on the cover of MSI Magazine and speaks around SoCal on tech."

We couldn't agree more.

Age and Occupation:
28, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of an international aerospace defense contractor. The firm has 5 divisions in the US and 2 overseas in Europe.

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How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
My wife and I have lived in Los Angeles for 6 years. We live in the busy and convenient Pico Robertson area. I grew up in Palo Alto, CA so I've been in the NoCal and SoCal communities. We moved to LA from Manhattan, New York where we lived on the Upper West Side. 98th and Amsterdam is a far cry from the quiet streets of Beverlywood Adjacent. I'll take the night time sky in LA over Manhattan's sky scrapers any day. However, I'll take NYC's MTA over LA's MTA any day of the week.

Why do you live in Los Angeles?
My previous employer, an online automotive information provider, moved my wife and I to LA in 2000 and we've been here since. Our families live in New Jersey so we fly quite a bit. Our kids are Gold level frequent fliers on America Airlines.

What is it like working in the Southern California aerospace industry?

The firm I work at is always expanding the possible avenues for growth and revenue. There's a stigma that aerospace doesn't pay big bucks or offer advancement. That's not true. Firms like BAE and mine have room for growth and advancement. I've gotten to see a lot of great projects from beginning to end and it's great to work in an industry where you actually help build things.

Is there much of an IT community in Southern California like all the ones up North?
There certainly are more jobs available in Northern California but there are more people competing for the same slot. The quality of life in LA, get up early and come home early, that sort of thing attracts people to SoCal over NoCal. There are quite a few user groups such as UUASC - http://www.uuasc.org/ - which allow for networking within specific types of technology focused IT professionals.

What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?
My favorite LA based film is "Heat". Michael Mann has a way of shooting LA that makes downtown look amazing. "The Big Lebowski" is also another great film based in LA. I can't think of a TV show that I've seen based in LA. I don't watch a lot of television, there just isn't time! I don't even have cable.

Best LA-themed book(s)?
"The Big Sleep"

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What's your favorite beach in SoCal and why?
Zuma Beach is really nice. I think the lack of free parking is key.

What's the best place to walk in LA?
Probably the front walk up to my house on the way home from work. The kids bouncing around in my house's front window does it for me.

What is the "center" of LA to you?
My home with my wife and kids.

What is the center of LA if you have children?
Probably Disneyland, one dollar scoop nights at Baskin and Robbins or any of the great local parks. The LA Zoo is also a great place to go with kids. It's a lot of walking which can be tough with a double stroller but it's worth it.

Is there an "Los Angeles child" personality?
I don't think so. I think the quality of life is great here and kids get used to not having to wear coats, heavy shoes, that sort of thing. My kids are always upset on the East Coast when they can't wear sandals outside all the time and sweatshirts when it gets cold.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?

I'd love to live in a house in the Pacific Heights with the incredible views.

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People stereotype Los Angeles as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?
I'm a practicing Orthodox Jew living in the second largest Jewish community in the world. It hasn't been hard to make or keep friends in Los Angeles. There's always people moving into the community and joining the synagogue that I attend.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?
I was in Palo Alto when the big Bay Area earthquake happened and I'd like to be as far away from LA as possible when the big one hits here. If I'm not that lucky, then somewhere close to home.

If you could make one thing be different in LA for your 30th birthday, what would you change?
I'd remove the racial and cultural stereotyping that affects our community.