Tepper CIO Panel

23 03 2014

I wrote this up at the end of last mini, but realized I never posted it. Here’s a recap of a great event we did in Mini 3.

CIO Panel

“The “I” in IT doesn’t just stand for information anymore, but it now also stands for innovation.” – CIO Panelist

Tepper, sponsored by the Business and Technology Club, hosted its first-ever CIO panel discussion last week. This was an event that I have wanted to do all year. Actually, I think before I became president of B&T, this was an idea that I hoped to bring to fruition. Much of my time at Tepper has been spent explaining to business people why I, an MBA student, am going into IT Management. On the other side, the IT people have been asking the question “why would someone who wants to do tech leadership get an MBA?”. I have tried to help Tepper understand the value that an MBA provides to people going into IT. And I’ve tried to help IT departments understand the benefits that someone with an MBA can bring to their organization.
I’ve wondered where the CIOs are going to come from in the future. You generally run into the problem of CIOs who aren’t respected by the “lower ranks” because they aren’t tech people and they really don’t understand the technology required to get their business ideas to work. Or, you have tech people who have moved up to be CIOs and generally don’t understand the full picture of business. My proposition to help solve this quandary is to ensure that we are bringing in people with technical backgrounds, training them in business so that they gain a full spectrum of knowledge about a company, and then ensuring that they are able to translate technical requirements into business value and business needs into technical specs. This seems like a HUGE value proposition that Tepper could provide, since they are the number one business school for an Information Systems concentration, and it is Carnegie Mellon. Where else should future CIOs be coming from besides Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business?

To further this proposal, the B&T Club was determined to host a CIO speaker series. However, instead of just bringing in one CIO, we were able to bring in 3! An event like this is very difficult to execute, since CIOs are very busy people and having a Friday afternoon session interrupts their work schedule.

We were very honored to have three wonderful panelists: Mark from Armada Logistics, Marc Brown CIO of Polyconcept (previous CIO at Del Monte Foods and Heinz), and Jody Cervanek, a prior CIO at UPMC Medical and a current Consultant to CIOs in the Healthcare sector. The topic of discussion was surrounding the role that MBA students should play in the IT organization (not necessarily IT companies, but the IT org internal to the company). The panel conversation was moderated by Tepper’s Professor Ravi, who did an excellent job.

One of the main things that I took away was the importance of the CIO to understand their area, but also the full needs of the business. Did you know that one of the reasons Mom and Pop pizza stores are dying is because of their lack of technology? 40% of pizza sales are ordered online. If you don’t have the underlying technology to support your business, your business will fail. In light of this, CIOs need to be a collaborator with other executives and ensure that they set up a good governance structure of IT so that it furthers business value. It’s important for CIOs to understand the operations of the company well, because IT is more frequently being used to help reduce costs of operation. In order to provide services that reduce costs, it’s critical for tech executives to understand what they’re actually supporting. Also, as the term “big data” and analytics become more popular, it’s important for CIOs and their organizations to allow “average” users to create reports based on data. In the past, there have been report writers within IT. But with the changing landscape, the marketing and sales teams need real-time data; the operations team needs supply chain information. They don’t want to have to call IT every time they need a new report. IT should be enabling its users by making it easy for users to build and create their own real-time data reports (I know, it sounds way easier than it is technical possible!). If this doesn’t occur, the company will start to have skunkworks report writers pop up in each department. They need their data one way or another!

Another thing that was discussed was the “requirements” for IT Leadership positions (and how to get hired into this area!):

  • Passion
  • Team Builder: Connection and good conversations with the recruiter
  • Visionary: A good picture of where to take the future
  • Translator: The ability to listen carefully and translate your learning to things that everyone can understand
  • Active: Does your cover letter (and what you say you’re passionate about) actually acted out on your résumé?
  • Knowledgable: An ability to understand and ask questions about industries even if you weren’t familiar with them
  • Adaptable & Quick Learner: Someone who can play in a dynamic changing market
  • Skilled & Diversity: A breath of “tools” and perspectives
  • I really enjoyed the session and I think the CIOs even had a fun time interacting with the students. I wished that we could have talked all afternoon. I hope that conversations like this can continue at Tepper. I know that I will follow up with these amazing people in the future, and look forward to interacting with them again.

Special thanks to Silvio Tannert and Alexa Hansen for executing a flawless event.



Questions IT Leaders need to be asking

9 11 2011


(The chart is small, so click on it to see a larger version; or see the text below for the text of the chart)

I think that this is a good chart of what IT leaders need to be looking at for their organization.
Cost is important! Especially in higher education where the cost for a private institution is sky-rocketing.

When you look at our department, and IT in general, I think, licensing accounts for a lot of our budget. I went to a session at SCaLE (Southern CA Linux Expo) where the presenter, who worked at an elementary school, switched all of their computers to use Linux products rather than Microsoft machines. They saved thousands on licensing.

Raises a good question: do all of our staff members really need to be using Windows/Mac machines? Could we put the specialized Windows products on Citrix so that users are served up Internet Explorer and other Windows-proprietary services via a web browser or Citrix client?

It would be hard to switch everyone to a platform like this, but what about doing a lot of users? The secretaries who use Office and the Web. They could use Linux. Really they could. It’s not too difficult once it’s set up.

Set 1:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Why is information technology so expensive?
— How can we reduce the cost of information technology?
— Are we more or less expensive than our peers? than effective IT organizations outside higher education?
— Are our services as effective as they should be relative to their costs

The Current Benchmark Data
— Cross-institutional data on central IT budgets
— Cross-institutional data on central IT costs for staffing, capital projects, and operations
— Propriety benchmarks from consulting groups

The Needed Data
— Service-based costs standardized across higher education
— Service catalogs and key performance indicators based on industry standards and adapted for higher education
— Research on cost drivers for specific applications or services (e.g., ERPs)

Set 2:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— How can information technology be a more effective partner with institutional leadership?
— How can information technology better support the institution’s strategy?
— How can our institution use information technology most effectively?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Case studies of effective uses of information technology
— Survey data associating effective results with specific practices

The Needed Data
— A definition and measurement of alignment that can be applied across all types of higher education institutions
— Factors associated with lesser or greater alignment and resulting models
— An assessment kit to assist higher education institutions that desire to benchmark their institution against national benchmarks

Set 3:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Should we partner with other institutions on some of our IT services?
— What is the right sourcing model?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Anecdotes
— Examples and data from outside higher education

The Needed Data
— Research on effective models of cross-institutional collaboration
— Analytics using service-based costs standardized across higher education to identify successful sourcing models for various services and institutional types

Set 4:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Are we leading or lagging our peers in instructional technology? use of social media? information security? mobile technologies? research computing?
— What would it cost to become a leader in these areas?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Survey results based on questionable samples
— Informal peer polls
— Anecdotes

The Needed Data
— Maturity indices for IT services in higher education and cross-institutional comparative data
— Analytics using service-based costs standardized across higher education to compare service costs for various maturity levels and institutional types.

Set 5:
The Questions IT Leaders Must Answer
— Who is doing x and how?

The Current Benchmark Data
— Informal listserv-based polls and queries

The Needed Data
— Just-in-time representative research on hot topics

Understand my world

12 01 2011

I feel like I just want someone to understand my world. If you are a woman in tech and are under 30, can we please be best friends? I need you to get me.

I need your laughing when I tell you computer jokes.
I need your understanding that “grep”ing for something isn’t a dirty thing. It’s Linux. Duh.
I need your excitement for when I spend all day working on building a server and it finally works. You know the feeling.
I need your enthusiasm for learning new things.
I need your giddyness for when your connection to the database is successful.
I need your frustration for when you missed checking the checkbox and it took you a week to find the solution.
I need your brain and analytical way of thinking.
I need your no-drama approach to life.

No, I’m not a super nerd. I like things besides technology. A lot. I don’t always talk about technology; actually, I rarely do, because no one understands. I’m not a super girly-girl, but I wear make-up. I enjoy getting new shoes. But I get new shoes every 3 years, and buy new clothes every once-and-awhile, not every other weekend. And I don’t like drama; I don’t cause it, and it normally doesn’t find me.

Can you please “get” me?

And if you understand business, love Jesus, love music, like exploring new places, like talking about boys, and have a variety of different hobbies, that would be a plus. But not required.

If you’re older, I’m looking for a mentor and would love that too. But I still need a young friend. If you know of people, pass them on.

A Day in the Life #3 Video

9 01 2011

This is the last video from the A Day in the Life series. (There is actually one more that I did with a System Engineer from Apple, but it’s not for public viewing).

My class is completed; grades are all turned in, and it’s all wrapped up. All I need to do now is sit down and think through everything that I did: what went well, what didn’t go so well, what I would change, what I like, if I want to teach again in the future, what God taught me through the semester (definitely a lot there), how I can continue to mentor and help students, and more. That’s a big job for me to do, but I believe that reflection is really important in life. If you don’t look at what you did in the past and learn from it, you’ve missed the benefits of the experience (and I probably won’t remember anything in a few months, as I have a really bad memory :)).

Kim Pfiffner, IT Director at Principal Financial group
Kim was the director that I was under when I was an intern at Principal in the summer of 2008. She is a super sweet lady – she took me out to breakfast, just to get to know me — the lowly intern. She’s very smart and offers some great advice in this video. My favorite things she talks about are what her old boss used to tell her/ask her: “Is anybody dead?” “No.” “Then, bleeding?” “No.” “Well, some one must be hurt; you’re pretty upset and stressed.” “No, no one’s hurt! Everyone’s okay. It’s not that bad. I just have this big project/failure.” “It must not be that big of a deal; it sounds like you’re team is still in tact. No one’s hurt. The world isn’t falling apart.”
She said that her boss also told her that people “when in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout” and her job as a manager/director was to stop them and calm them down.

Also, good advice: Hire smart people! They can learn anything.

I love that she was a marketing student who found the IT job more interesting. It really made my students think that they might be doing something different after they graduate.

Thanks to Kim for the great interview!

Update/Correction from her video- there are about 14,000 employees at Principal, rather than 17,000.

A Day in the Life – Senior Systems Engineer

16 11 2010

Interview with Richmond Love, a Senior Systems Engineer at a top tier security vendor (not disclosed for security reasons)

A Day in the Life … of a Web Programmer

8 09 2010

As promised, here it is. The first in the “A Day in the Life” series, featuring Jonathan Preston, Web Programmer at Landmark Global. It’s about 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, Skype quality isn’t the best, so there are a few spots where it’s not clear what he’s saying.

Thanks to Biola’s new bandwidth, I can now do it at work and hopefully the quality will be great for next time!

PS. Interesting tidbit from class tonight: Another student stated that she had never used Ethernet before. Someone in my class on Thursday said she hadn’t either, and I thought maybe she just wasn’t sure what it was. But no, really. The students this age now have always had wireless. Weird, huh?

Also, I tried to explain how a hard drive worked comparing it to a record player. Which as soon as I said it, I realized it was dumb, because really I barely remember a record player. How would they have ever seen one or know how it works? haha

Exciting news: My dad is coming up to have dinner with me tomorrow night. Yay, how fun. Knowing that he’s a meat and potatoes guy, I’m going to make this T-bone steak that I’ve had, and some mashed potatoes. No rice for one night won’t kill me (If you look at the way I eat rice, you’d think I was Asian- rice for bfast, rice for dinner, sometimes for lunch too!)

Found this funny: Quote told to me by a friend who was talking about the ratio of men to women in IT. When talking about finding someone to date/marry, he said “The odds are very good, but the goods are very odd”. Ha!

PSS. God is good. Really.

My 3 Jobs

3 09 2010

I’ve had three jobs this week: SysAdmin for Biola, solving problems on the side, while at VMworld; Compellent Social Media Reporter and Customer Rep; Professor for Intro to MIS.
What a week it’s been! I’m exhausted. My body has decided it’s tired too, as I’m definitely fighting a cold now. Bummer. If you don’t rest, it catches up to you. I’ve pretty much worked from 7:30am to 11:30pm every night this week and tonight will be no exception, even though VMworld is done. That’s a long day! They’ve been great; lots of fun, great learning opportunities, wonderful new friends and networking acquaintances.

I almost didn’t want to leave VMworld. It was such a great environment, I had made a new little community of friends there, and didn’t have too much stress. Yes, I was busy running around doing things, but they weren’t super critical. If I missed a session I was bummed, but it didn’t matter. I can always watch them online anyways.

As I was flying home today I started getting freaked out. There’s so much to do here at home!
My house-purchasing is having issues, so we have to re-draw loan docs, which I’m terribly disappointed about because my dad was going to come up and help me with painting and all of the big stuff this weekend. Unfortunately he’s scheduled to work every Saturday for the next few weeks, so unless I can paint by myself and put in windows, I’m going to have to wait. Waiting isn’t bad, it’s just the anticipated results have not been what I was expecting. All in His time.

I realized as I was coming back that my slides for class weren’t complete. There were only about 15 slides. I just don’t know how to make each class session long enough! We finished class around 7:20 tonight (so a 1hr 20min class). We pulled apart some computers and played with the parts which I think they really enjoyed. I think it was pretty new for most of the people, although I know it was a little boring for those who know a lot about computers. It’s hard to balance that. We did the computer project for about 45 minutes or so, which means I only talked for 30 minutes or less. I think next week will be a lot better. I’ve already been prepping for the past three hours for our software class next week. It will be interesting I think. I am sure that I will go the whole session, as we now can go in to the labs and start working there on our projects. I really like my students. I’m excited to be teaching, but it’s just a lot on top of my already crazy-normal life!

“The world we have created is a product of our own thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

Exciting stuff happening at VMworld today. The morning session was great! I wish I had more time at the conference. I did a great lab at 8am, ran over to the general session at 9am, and then ran to the expo from 10-10:30. I literally ran almost all the way back to my hotel (1 mile away) to be back and ready with my stuff for the shuttle to pick me up at 10:45. I was sorta run-walking (my sister does race-walking) and I think I would have won the race! Haha! My feet definitely hurt now.
I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get to spend more time in the Expo area. I was in the Compellent booth most of the time that I was in the Expo area, so I didn’t get to scope out the new products or get too much swag. I had to get some things to bring back to my team, otherwise they might not ever let me leave again 🙂

Morning Session: Awesome stuff. The theme was innovation, and so they had three presenters talk. My favorite was a Ph.D student from MIT who started a company called SixthSense (see Fast Company’s review of them here). They created a gadget that uses augmented reality. It comprises an off-the-shelf webcam, mirrors, smartphone, and a pico-projector–all hung on a lanyard. It can recognize objects, like a book in a store, and pull up Amazon review of the book and project them on to the front cover of the book. I can’t explain it very well, so go look at the review on Fast Company’s site. Wow. Really impressive. I think it definitely will take off.
Other presenters were Natan Linder, a Master’s student in the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT Media Lab and Tan Le, Co-founder and President, Emotiv Systems. Natan Linder presented LuminAR, which can project images of the web, anywhere. It allows you to have Internet everywhere, as long as you have a wireless signal and a power socket. They’re calling it the new form factor for a computer. The pixels can be put on any spaces. It looks like a light bulb, and you can put the bulb pack in a lamp or in a robot.
Emotiv’s product is a head set that measure brain waves in order to move virtual objects. It tests your brian waves when you’re thinking of moving a block on the screen up. It then tells you to pretend that you’re moving the block. The block moves. Pretty cool. I’ve heard about them in INC. magazine before and thought it was awesome then. It allows you to control things with your mind. A demo was of a man sitting in his wheelchair and he had his chair hooked up to his brain waves. When he would move his face or think to go to the left, the wheels would start going to the left. I really think it has potential to do great things.

By the way, Compellent was a Finalist for the Hardware for Virtualization category of awards at VMworld. Yay! That’s cool.

Hardware Virtualization:
Gold: Cisco Systems Inc., Cisco Nexus 7000 Overlay Transport Virtualization
Finalist: Compellent Technologies, Compellent Storage Center 5
Finalist: Xsigo Systems, VP780 and VP560 I/O Director

That’s all for now folks!