Intelligent CXO Issue 03 | Page 46

What has your career looked like so far ?
I ’ ve been in some form of technology my entire career . I started in the late 90s as a start-up and what we would now call a healthcare exchange , bringing healthcare products and benefits to consumers as a dot . com . I ended up selling that to Aon , the world ’ s largest insurance broker at the time . I stayed there for 12 years , ended up being the Chief Information Officer of that particular business unit , which was focused on the workplace so everything from employee benefits to pensions to compensation to talent consulting . I left there in 2013 to join IRI and I ’ ve been at IRI since then .
Have you always been interested in technology , even when you were growing up ?
I was . I started early in life in technology . I ’ ve worked at numerous places , even while still being adolescent and so , I worked at an air defence company taking designs of their parts and their products and putting them onto AutoCAD or CAD software for the first time . I worked at many other technology companies , prior to even graduating high school and so I ’ ve always had a passion for technology since I was little , since I could hold a keyboard in my hand .
What do you think influenced that passion ?
Just the notion of being able to build something . You get to build something that , in many ways , outlasts you and has impact in society , whether it ’ s on the benefits and the healthcare side of the equation as part of my career at Aon or more on the CPG and how to feed the world , if you will , at the IRI side of the equation . That ’ s what makes it exciting , that you could take something virtual , if you will , and build on it and keep building on it as you continue to innovate .
In your role as CIO , how do you equip staff with skills and knowledge ?
That one is tricky in the war for talent . We always try to hire people that have a few key skills which , quite frankly , are hard to teach . So , problem solving , something that I call synthesis so can you take two abstract ideas and come up with something amazing and concrete ? Those tend to be skills that are pretty hard to teach . We can always teach anybody technology . So really the profile is hiring from around the globe , in a global company like IRI , individuals that really have that inherent problemsolving ability , synthesis ability , strong work ethic , individuals that have that passion for learning – they run towards challenges versus away .
How do you work with other executives to make sure that your voice is heard ?
I ’ ve always had this philosophy that I manifest it by even how my function is named , so we ’ re not called IT or Information Technology , so the name of the function , both here and at Aon was called Business Technology . The reason for that is if you ’ re in our function and you ’ re in a room with other colleagues from other functions , nobody should really be able to distinguish that you ’ re from technology . You ’ re just another business colleague , you talk in terms of impact . Granted , yes , you ’ re going to use technology to create that impact , whether it ’ s revenue growth , profitability or margin expansion , risk management , etc , but it ’ s from the lens of driving business outcomes and hence why it is embedded into the name .
How do you ensure that different teams within your company work together ?
Part of it is this mindset of we ’ re all going to talk about revenue growth , margin expansion , client retention and satisfaction and risk management . Those are business concepts that colleagues in our operations , commercial , finance or marketing function can all rally around . That ’ s the core reason why we operate – to drive revenue , to drive profitability , to delight your clients and retain that , and then to manage risk across the organisation .
And then we have this mindset that I think of those other groups as my internal clients , they all use technology to drive their own functions . We have the saying that the customer ’ s always right , except when we could help them be more right . If you have a better idea , you have an obligation to raise your point of view and help somebody be smarter tomorrow than they are today , in terms of how they wield technology as a competitive advantage . x
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