Patty Hatter has spent her career taking leaps—whether that’s moving for a position in Europe, switching between industries and Fortune 500 countries, or simply recognizing that sometimes executives need to let go of their ideas in favor of better ones. As a seasoned information security expert, Hatter brings a wide range of experience to her role as the CIO of Intel Security.
Sync spoke to Hatter about her leadership approach, people she admires most in tech, and why she wants to ban “big data.”
Sync: Your educational background is in mechanical engineering. How does that base of knowledge inform your role as CIO now?
Patty Hatter: I’m a big fan of people who have engineering degrees and use that as a platform to then branch out to a range of fields. As a CIO, I’m constantly being exposed to new technologies. With the technology landscape evolving so quickly, having an engineering degree and applying that core discipline is instrumental in my ability to understand the value of new technologies, and how they might be applied to the business.
Can you name a book that has influenced your leadership style in some way, and tell us why it impacted you?
Hatter: Most any book by Patrick Lencioni—he writes on business management, particularly in relation to team management. He puts keen business insights into practical situations that are relatable to everyone.
One of my favorites of his is The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, in which he writes how the primary difference between successful companies and ordinary ones has little to do with what they know and more to do with how healthy they are. I’ve seen that play out in my own organizations, so I can definitely relate to the themes in his book.
“I’m a big fan of people who have engineering degrees and use that as a platform to then branch out to a range of fields. As a CIO, I’m constantly being exposed to new technologies.”
What’s one industry-jargon word or phrase you’d like to see banned?
Hatter: “Big data.” Over the past few years, new technologies have made a significant impact in the amount and speed of data that can be collected and analyzed. I feel businesses, especially IT organizations, need to spend more time in connecting the large amounts of data into truly actionable business insights, that tangibly improve the revenue, profitability, or customer experience.
And one you’ve heard that is actually effective?
Hatter: A really effective phrase being used is “digital experience.” I think it places more of a true connection between the technology and the customer who is using it. “Improving your digital experience” is more proactive and respectful of the end user who needs to navigate the interfaces we’ve placed in front of them. It’s IT’s responsibility to keep user experience in the forefront and ensure we design experiences that fit the customers’ business needs and environment.
Do you think social media helps you do your job? If so, how?
Hatter: Yes, definitely. Social media has been a great resource for me to keep my finger on the pulse of new technologies and business trends that are emerging across multiple industries and geographies. It’s a great way to stay connected with other tech leaders on a regular basis. We’ve also used social media as a great way to recognize our teams.
What’s a Twitter feed you would recommend every tech leader follow?
Hatter: Marc Andreessen (@pmarca), cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz. Marc’s got an innate ability to see where technology is going and forecast applicable uses throughout a vast array of industries. He is truly tapped into what does or doesn’t make sense in technology and can connect the dots at the speed of light when it comes to applying technology across a wide spectrum of business opportunities.
How do aspects of your background at different companies like AT&T and Cisco, in business operations roles, inform the work you do as CIO now?
Hatter: I feel very fortunate to have had such a wide variety of roles so far in my career, from business development, sales, professional services, BU management, operations, and IT. This has been incredibly valuable in my role as CIO—I can put myself in the shoes of my peers across the organization to better understand their business needs and translate that into what IT can do to support them.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Hatter: I’m lucky I enjoy working, because I spend a lot of time doing that! When I’m not working, I do what most other folks are doing in their spare time—spending time with my family and friends, watching my son play soccer on the weekends, trying to improve my cooking skills (my son really encourages that because he wants me to increase my repertoire of recipes), and getting my hour of Pilates in every Saturday.
What’s going to be the Next Big Thing in tech?
Hatter: One of the Next Big Things will be the evolution of IoT. Even though this field isn’t exactly new, and the “ecosystems” feeding the business models and technologies are still nascent, we can see them taking shape. Security and privacy are certainly “hot topics” in general, but both will play especially important roles in this evolving IoT market. We are fast approaching billions of connected devices—from drones to fitness wearables and cars to clothing. The effects of this will move multiple industries, giving new business opportunities to not only the big players that move fast enough, but opening room for new startups as well.
If you were asked to give a TED Talk, what would your topic be?
Hatter: My topic would be “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
I would talk about the value of taking roles that are outside of your comfort zone, because those will probably be the roles that enable you to learn the most and really expand your perspective. Whenever I have taken on those sorts of risks, it ended up being incredible learning and development experiences for me both personally and professionally.
Who do you admire most in your field?
Hatter: Elon Musk. He’s such an incredible standout in taking big risks and moving forward with new and truly innovative ways to use technology. He has managed to accomplish what no one else has been able to in the technology field using an amazing combination of vision, technological skill, and business acumen. He’s a trailblazer at creating unique businesses, not just in one industry, but across very diverse industries.
What have you learned about yourself by taking on executive leadership roles?
Hatter: I know that I love the process of defining a strategy for an organization, and then building a team that’s equally as excited about that vision. If you have both a great strategy and a great team, those are the two most important elements to build high performance that lasts. I’m not the kind of person who just puts an external façade on a team and hopes no one really looks “behind the curtain.” I think the fun part of work is being able to come up with a compelling vision for your organization, and form a team that is equally energized about that vision. With that, you’ll be able to achieve incredible things.