Start with the end.
The way tech leaders can get more creative about their role is to really understand the competitive environment; understand the business, the product, and the entire process. You can’t lose sight of what the ultimate goal is: to grow the bottom line, compete in markets, and outcompete the competition. I always start with that end in mind.
If you don’t, then you tend to get a little enamored by the idea of creating the most beautiful technology infrastructure regardless of whether it’s relevant to internal goals, external goals, or the marketplace. It may not seem like it, but you’ll become obsolete very fast. It’s not that you’re not good at what you do, but you’re just not going to be able to effectively compete with what’s going on in the industry.
It’s not about splashy or flawless moves.
[I tell my team that] I don’t want TransUnion to be on the cover of a technology architecture digest trying to do this brilliant thing that had little or no business relevance. I’d rather be recognized for optimizing and creating business value, whether or not it was orchestrated perfectly.
“There’s always going to be the next technology, the next tool, but how do you exploit that tool? You must know how you want to position yourself and the technology so you can compete effectively in the marketplace.”
Embrace technology’s power.
If you’re not taking advantage of the technology trends that are happening, you’re not able to optimize opportunities. However, you have to also be careful when you’re looking at the new tools and capabilities. Having new technology just for the sake of checking that box is not relevant. There’s always going to be the next technology, the next tool, but how do you exploit that tool? You must know how you want to position yourself and the technology so you can compete effectively in the marketplace.
The leaders of tomorrow—and I say this with a little bit of a bias because I’m a technologist—have to understand and grasp the power of technology. If future CEOs don’t get it, it will be very hard for that enterprise to compete. The entire leadership group has to understand the concept. There has to be enough conversing in tech so that it’s viewed as a strategic asset of the company. Otherwise, it’s going to be very hard for that enterprise to succeed.
Concentrate on environment.
It might sound kind of generic, but you have to build a great, localized team for the business to succeed. Having the right leadership team in place is so critical. It’s not just about me. It’s about how I create the best environment for my associates and colleagues to succeed.
As a leader, there has to be a commonality of vision in terms of how success is defined. And you have to align that across groups, individuals, etc. You have to have say, “Success is defined by achieving A, B, and C,” and A, B, and C are common across multiple people across the organization, so you are all driving toward getting these results.
My staff can come and chat with me at any time; they can have conversations about strategies,
profit issues, optimization—whatever the case may be. I think creating that informal environment is a big part of removing perceived or real barriers for people to fully engage and for them to give us their best. This open collaboration is aligned with my interests and values and greater mission of TransUnion. I think that is important.
Make things as simple as possible.
Technology is so pervasive in the environment that the job of a CIO or tech leader is to demystify that technology for the rest of the organization in a manner
that removes some of the complexities. Ten years ago, you couldn’t do a lot of things because it was too expensive or because the technology didn’t exist. Today, a lot of those limitations are gone. Today’s conversations are more on how you educate the rest of the business around the possibilities technology can bring when some of those restrictions are removed.
Never forget fun.
What keeps people here and motivated is working in an environment that’s fun and fulfilling, and delivering results. Getting people engaged, attracting the right talent, then keeping them is the differentiator between winning and losing. All the
rest of it can be acquired. When you’re around passionate people who are motivated, everybody raises
Working for a great company that’s producing great results and serving a greater purpose, where my immediate team and the organization is growing—those are all things that get me excited and motivated.