1. You’ve been ICBA’s Chief Digital Officer for 3 years now. Could you tell us a little about the ICBA, your role, and why you found it so attractive?
I have a fantastic job. I am responsible for the overall development, implementation, evaluation and improvement of digital integration and strategy across ICBA. Working with my fantastic teams, we are able to identify and provide solutions to internal opportunities and challenges to incorporate technological and digital solutions in current association business processes. We are constantly evaluating digital solutions to meet member needs and improve member experience. The most attractive aspect of my job is in the partnership with senior leadership. We are able to identify opportunities and risks for delivering ICBA’s products and services, including identification of competitive services, opportunities for digital innovation, and assessment of marketplace obstacles and technical hurdles to business success.
2. You advocate for, and lead, several efforts to increase collaboration amongst association executive leaders. Could you tell us a little more about what you do in this regard and what drove you to give back in this way? I have been in the association industry since 1996. It is only appropriate that we come together to share our successes and failures with each other and learn from them.
I’d like to think that I am a networker. I connect with people and make the connections. There is a special feeling in being able to help. And, in the process, I end up learning a lot about people, association business models, innovative ideas, good business practices (and not so good ones), successes that I can emulate and failures that I can avoid. I also get many calls and communications from association executive leaders to talk about technology and digital issues. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and ideas.
Currently, I am working on a project where we are surveying associations to understand the state of digital transformation in associations. As of now, over 80 associations have shared their issues/concerns and factoids. We worked on a similar project last year and we had almost 300 associations share their association’s digital maturity. We shared our findings at the Digital Now Conference in Orlando.
Amongst many other things that I am involved, I am particularly very proud of Invite-Only CIO Roundtable Breakfast that I have been running for almost 4 years. We invite 25 CIOs from associations for a breakfast every other month on a certain topic and discuss our issues in a very private and safe environment. I am told by many that this has a created special bonds between attending CIOs. Giving back to the association community, that has given so much to me, is really rewarding. After all, we are association executives…
3. You also find time to continue your work as a professor at Georgetown University, where you teach a master’s program on Technology Management. Could you share a little more about your work there and what drives you to do that in addition to everything else you have on your plate? Also, what would you tell others who are considering a second job as a professor?
I love sharing what I know. Around 2009, I was approached by Georgetown to teach few courses in Technology Management for its master’s degree program. My Masters experience was very academic. And, I thought a more pragmatic, contemporary and practical education that can readily enhance student’s ability to succeed professionally made much more sense. Georgetown agreed and I started teaching in May of 2010. Being able to work with the best students from all around the country (and the world) is a privilege and honor. I get energized listening to these bright students’ ideas and desires to make a huge impact in our society. And, to be able to share the practical knowledge of technology management is a blessing. I truly believe that our world is a going to be in better hands with these fantastic talents.
Because I like to introduce the newest and latest concepts, ideas, technologies, and models to the students, I need to continuously hone my skills. So that I do not embarrass myself in front of them, I study and prepare continuously. I am also a life-long learner and have always loved learning from phenomenal US academic institutions. That must be why I have not stopped learning. And after my master’s degree, I have continued my learning with MIT, Wharton, and now with Berkeley.
4. You have been a SIMCAC member for a few years now. During that time, you’ve involved some of your direct reports, even sponsoring their membership. From your perspective, what is the primary value proposition of SIMCAC membership and what would you say to other CxOs that are considering membership?
I found SIMCAC late. I wish I had been involved earlier as well. SIMCAC brings great technological minds together from all fronts. With that, SIMCAC is able to bring years of collective experience, skills, knowledge, and academic degrees like no other similar organizations to its events. I am able to meet and connect with leaders from private, public, non-profit, and association sectors and learn from them. I have gained a lot in my few short years with SIMCAC, and I highly recommend it to all CxOs in our area. I will be asking my other direct reports to join SIMCAC this year. The value that you get from getting involved is so much more than the price you pay.
5. Given everything you’ve been up to, we believe that you have a unique perspective. What do you think is the most important thing CIOs/CDOs/CTOs should be focused on in 2020 and for the foreseeable future?
On the professional front, technical skills are being commoditized. It’s easier now to get/buy/hire technical skills than ever before. I encourage and challenge my peer CIOs/CDOs/CTOs to focus on the business side of their organizations, and to really truly transform the organization and the ecosystem the organization belongs to. Because of the democratization of the digital tools, and the countless successful businesses on the foundation of digital transformation strategies, this era is the best time for us to thrive. Let’s take the bull by the horns.
On the personal front, let’s focus more on emotional intelligence. Let’s show more empathy. Let’s help, guide and mentor others. That way we will grow stronger together.
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