S2E6: CIO Roundtable-Part 1 of 2-Moving Tech Forward-Sponsored by Dynatrace and Moser Consulting

Episode Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, S2E6: CIO Roundtable-Part 1 of 2-Moving Tech Forward-Sponsored by Dynatrace and Moser Consulting. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week's episode shares the discussion from a CIO Roundtable hosted by Dynatrace and Moser Consulting. The panelists include Grant Dawson, Vice President of IT for T2 Systems, Nirav Shah, Vice President of IT for Republic Airways, Michael Loggins, Global Vice President of IT for SMC, and Moser Consulting's very own, Shaun McAdams, our Vice President of Data and Analytics.&nbsp;This is part one of a two-part series in which our panelists discuss moving forward in tech and what that looks like currently.</p>

Angel Leon: Hello, everyone and welcome to another edition of ASCII Anything presented by Moser Consulting. I'm your host, Angel Leon, Moser's HR advisor. In this week's episode, we'll be listening in on Dynatrace and Moser Consulting CIO round table discussion about moving forward in tech. Our panelists include Grant Dawson, vice- president of IT for T2 Systems, Nirav Shah vice- president of IT for Republic Airways, Michael Loggins, global vice president of IT for SMC and Moser Consulting's very own Shaun McAdams, our vice- president of data and analytics. This is part one of a two- part series in which our CIO round table discuss moving forward in tech and what that looks like during the times we're currently living in. Let's have a listen.

Shaun McAdams: Today, we're going to talk about a topic modernization. That's kind of at a core regardless within IT, how you support your business, how you can advance that. We're going to do that through some key concepts. We're going to talk about technology, but we're also going to focus in on people and process that are really, really critical when we're trying to advance and move a technology forward. To do that I have three awesome vice- presidents of IT with me. So I'm going to introduce them and bring them in. First T2 Systems is a leader in technology for the parking industry. From permits to enforcements, pay stations, mobile payments, they provide comprehensive solutions for the parking industry, managing billions of transactions, thousands of IOT devices. So a lot of work go in for those that even probably came in here today, that parked, you probably interacted with a system that was supported by T2 Systems. And so very happy to have Grant Dawson, Grant Dawson serves as vice president of IT for T2 Systems. Thank you so much, Grant. All right. OurJet. com. So if you haven't... If you've ever flown with American Airlines, United, Delta, you probably have interacted with some employees from Republic Airways. They have over 6, 000 aviation employees, 200 jets. They service thousands of flights to a hundred cities within Central and North America. And so today we're joined by Nirav Shah, who is the vice president of Information Technology from Republic Airways. And last but not least SMC Corporation is a leader in pneumatic technology, providing the industry with technology and products that promote automation, which is kind of nice because we're talking about automation today within information technology. They have production facilities in 30 countries, sales networks in over 80. I actually don't know that there is an industrialized country that you guys probably are not involved with. So global company, Mike Loggins, the global vice president of IT is here with us today is going to round out our panelists. Appreciate it. Have a seat. All right. So thank you guys again for joining us, be able to talk about automation and modernization. So as I said, we're going to hit topics of tech. We're going to hit topics of people and process. I already know, having talked with these guys, they would so much rather focus in on people and process because that's so more important, even though the titles are information technology, but we're going to hit tech first because I think it's important to give some context behind the initiatives that their teams are working on. And then we'll talk about how people and process affect that. So I'm going to ask you guys first, just to talk about either a current, future, or past modernization efforts that your teams are focused on. Just to give some context, if you will, for the audience. So let's start with Mike and we'll come this way. Yeah.

Mike Loggins: So with SMC our... We're on a big strategy right now to start consolidating. We have, like Shaun said, over 80 sales branches, 30 factories, multiple warehouses. They've all been run autonomously for the last 60 years. So really what we're trying to do is streamline, bring everyone together, get a standardization of technology together. And which is a huge undertaking, SMC typically does not have large investments in IT across the board. So getting a nominee support from headquarters to change how we invest in IT, but then building a team from scratch really that is focused on providing these new services, streamlining and standardizing on infrastructure across the globe is our big challenge right now and probably is going to be a full of fun for the next forever, I think.

Shaun McAdams: Grant, what are some things your team is focusing on inaudible?

Grant Dawson: Yeah, so for us, we have several different SAS product lines that we operationalize and throughout the years we kind of joke at T2" We were doing SAS before it was called SAS." We just had the products and threw them out there and sell them on a subscription. And we also manufacture on hardware. So hardware often comes with those SAS subscriptions. And so over the years, you get some legacy products, you get the technical debt that you compile. And when we look at that... We're never going to go and just have a strategy where we're going to just reinvent the wheel. We're not going to go and just redesign an application from the ground up. Everybody knows you come in late on budget and on time if you try to do that. So our strategy has really been to" Okay, how do we modernize and bolt on to our existing systems and add containerization, our services, where we can slowly start to move different features and products?" So whenever we look at, when we want to touch a product or do anything with that product, the first thing that we think about is" Okay, how do we take that and maybe have it sit outside the normal object layer of the business?" And then that way it allows us to modernize and move forward and still really treat our legacy with the respect it needs and continue to build upon that but without having to have to worry about redoing or remodernizing an entire platform.

Shaun McAdams: Awesome. Thank you.

Nirav Shah: Nirav Shah, as you said, and thank you for inviting me to be on the panel. It's my pleasure. The only problem with this is I was told this was going to be another COVID panel. And I walked in the room and you change it to modernization, but that's much more entertaining than the COVID panel. We have had enough of those. So thank you. The question, modernization and republics. So you mentioned thousand- plus flights. We all know last year, this time, in fact, three months ago, around March, April, we were finding places where we can park our aircraft and we were running out of places where we could park. We went from flying 1200 flights to 140. Now we are back to 1, 250. And if we had enough staff to keep up, we actually would be flying 1400 flights a day. We just cannot keep up. If everybody talked about economy and they talked about V- shaped curve, we actually experienced that. We were here, we went down and now, if we wanted, we could be a lot higher than we ever flown in our 45 years history. How do we quickly recover? I think one of the big things we did over the last year is investment in technology. So it was not a pleasant conversation with the executive team when you're in the middle of a pandemic and you have 80% of your aircraft park and you go to them and say" Hey, I want to invest in technology and do this." But luckily for us, our executive team knew that we would come back, we would come back quickly, so we made some massive investment last year, which really on a normally it would be difficult, last year it was extremely difficult. One of them was obviously putting together a hybrid data center. So we are investing into a data center that would include our primary running in our facility with the colocation and then a secondary would be in a public cloud environment. That's the project going on right now. We are building many applications that are on our pilots and our flight attendants devices, EFBs, electronic flight books. So that would be either iPad or an iPhone. And the reason for that is we want them to be efficient. All of us have experienced where we are at the gate and there's a five minutes delay or inside the plane and there is three minutes delay or seven minutes delay. And that three minutes appear to be 30 minutes for all of us. So for us, on- time departure is absolutely critical. In fact, we are measured based on that. We go to 99. 9% efficiency, is just for on- time departure. And for that to happen, lot of things have to come together and for that to happen, all of those things to come together there has to be automation. So there is heavy investment in automation. We have actually built around 50 plus bots from using RPA technology that have over the course of last year, saved us around$1. 5 million already. So there will be further investment in programs like those.

Shaun McAdams: Let me do a follow up question on that. What specific types of processes where you guys focused on automating so that you could enhance that goal of getting things out of the gate when they needed to be out.

Nirav Shah: Yeah. And we can sit here on the panel and discuss a lot about modernization and talk about cool things, but I believe all of us and many of us in this room, we all have legacy technology that we have to deal with. So a lot of time the boards that we have built is also dealing with those legacy technology that doesn't even have API. So we go all the way from API level integration to screen scraping from the legacy systems we have. We work, as you mentioned, with American, United, Delta. I'll give you one small example. So if at all, we have a pilot or a captain who has timed out because he's flown enough for the day and now he cannot fly. And a weather related event happen. He's timed out, he cannot take the plane. Well, we do have to take him back to his home or at the base. And that in our industry, it's called deadhead booking. So he's going to fly through one of our partners on an empty seat, sometime inside the cockpit, where we have to go into all the three system and find that empty seat in the cockpit available from Miami to India, whatever it is. We do that through a bot now. It used to be a human intervention, now we go through a system, we identify using the app, they can say" Okay, I cannot fly anymore." We find the connection. We either finding one of the partner, they already get the identity, they get the notification, the captain or the pilot of the plane knows that there's going to be a deadhead from a Republic Airways flying on the cockpit. That's an example of an automation that's saved a lot of time for us and our partners.

Shaun McAdams: Awesome. And I know you, Grant, you talked about SAS services, so I'll imagine you're also in a position where you have to manage these separate hybrid architectures and strategies. And how has that impacted you in the past few years with the emergence of cloud and how are T2?

Grant Dawson: Sure. Yeah. So we're hybrid as well. Our on- prem data centers are connected in the public clouds, but I think what's interesting for me is when I look at where our automation strategy has been, we are doing much more automation on our legacy products than we are on the modern, because a lot of times the modern products have, and the cloud products have. That hook's already in there. So, to your point, we're going back and we're building tools to automate. Previously, I joke with my team. I say" You know, we need to basically have the robots take over our jobs. That's our goal, right?" And so, one of the things that we do when I look at our architecture, one of our products has thousands of Oracle databases behind it, literally thousands of instances of Oracle. That's not something that you can have a manual interaction with on a day in and day out basis and be successful. But at the same time, operationally, we have to keep the lights on. And so when I go back to my team, one of the things that we have to look at and we say" We have to slow down to speed up." And so our strategy is if we create... If we can do automation in a month and it means that we're going to have our close ratio on tickets go down, but the end result is going to be that we're going to free up an FTE or a time over the next year. Those are decisions that you have to make, because you have to keep moving at the speed of business. And so in some cases, we've had to create operational pain to move forward with that automation and then also basically steer to business and go" There's value in this. We're doing this for a reason and here's where we're going to come out." If you do that, you better be careful because you better be right. And we've done that a couple of times and have been successful in that. So it's really, for us, it's looking at areas where we can just go in and slow down, speed up, and make those improvements and automate tasks. And then we're at the point now where it's a neat place to be where we're looking around. We're going" Okay, what next?" Because once you catch that bug, it's like a drug. You just want to automate everything. Automate all the things. I have a post on LinkedIn right now. I'm trying to hire someone and it's like" I need someone who can automate all the things. That's what I want." And so that's been our strategy.

Nirav Shah: If I can interject what Grant said, I think automation is garbage in, garbage out. So it's very important that we focus on the process and not automate everything. And then one thing you said is" I tell people that, bot should take over our jobs." I just want to clarify, bots should take over our clinical and mundane jobs, because when you go in and stand in front of the business and said" Bot should take over our job." A lot of people are doing that daily. They start looking at you"You're not take my job away." And that's what we faced when we started the program. And then we had to explain to them" No, it's the job that you actually don't like." It's the mundane tasks, it's key keystrokes that we want to take away. And when we explain it that... In fact our board process actually ended up creating headcounts for us. Because efficiency and then, we started noticing" Oh, if we had two more headcounts here and they could do this intelligent mapping that we needed, that a bot at this point cannot do." I think" Let's do that." So I think-

Grant Dawson: Yeah and to add to that, the best people to automate... And I said that in jest, because the best people to automate, those situations are the people that are doing it already. I would rather not hire somebody who's got a... A developer has got a lot of skills in automation. I'd rather train up one of the individuals that's doing that task over and over again and say" Hey, here's the framework, go crazy, go nuts." And so when you do that, you elevate your staff to a different level. So I have people on my staff that started out in very, basic IT administrator positions that have worked up the ranks into some of my most trusted analysts, because they've figured out that they can grow. And the best way to do that is not wait for an opportunity, it's to basically work themselves out of their job they're in now.

Nirav Shah: Exactly.

Grant Dawson: For sure.

Shaun McAdams: Yeah. I think even from the leaders, we're challenged with that mindset of working ourselves out of a job. Now we're investing in leaders. So that has to be at an exponential level for a global company. So I want to pick on you a little bit here, Mike, when you talk about IT, because how is the automation affected when you have so many different locations and so many different process of IT and so many different initiatives? How do you find that balance of managing all of those things that techs don't want to do?

Mike Loggins: Grant and Nirav were talking about the... We live right now in a world of legacy. All these different STC companies, they have... That's all they are, legacy. Across from an automation, it's almost impossible for us to try to do something at the macro level. Any kind of automation has to be at a micro level for what we're trying to do. And where we can do at the macro level is because we're consolidating into multiple data centers and then smaller footprints, so then we can automate in those silos of compute. But at a huge level, there's not a lot of opportunity with what we're doing right now to do a large deal automation. So we're really just trying to find those small nuggets, find those high effort, low efficiency, and the things that no one wants to do, that everyone hates to do. Try to get those off of the plate, whether they're in IT or outside of IT, and leverage that is our goal for automation.

Shaun McAdams: Awesome. And when you think about trying to find those things and trying to see things, throw a little ball here towards Dynatrace and sponsorship, one of the things they talk about is obviously observability. How important or what role has being able to look at the IT resources across your organizations and using tools that allow you to see things, how has that played an effect on automation or modernization? And it's just an open question for anyone on the panel.

Nirav Shah: I can take because I have an easy answer to that. I would love to explore that. We aren't there yet, okay? And the reason I say it... I'm seeing that we are paying the price of not making that investment sometime ago from an opposite of value perspective, because we have a board that has failed here and we go and we focused towards the board and say" Okay, why did it fail?" Basically, the real reason is somewhere else. And having that single pane of glass and say where exactly it's going on, that's something that we are not... We do monitoring. That's one aspect of it, that's a very small aspect of what needs to be done. We aren't there yet and I'm here to learn. Apparently it looks like I'll be spending time with Dynatrace and the inaudible today.

Mike Loggins: Same with route. We haven't gotten there yet. And really, the frustrating thing is that means anytime something happens, anytime it's a reaction. We don't get an opportunity then to prepare. We don't get an opportunity to make better decisions. We're just trying to restore services as fast as possible. So the ability to do observability really changes the game and allows us to figure out how better respond to something, how to keep it from happening potentially, but then figuring out the right things to automate, so when something happened, the alert is more of" Hey, this happened. Fixed." Rather than" Oh crap. Everything is down." And now everyone swarms to go figure out what we've done.

Grant Dawson: Yeah. And I hear it over and over again. We talk about legacy and somewhere legacy got a bad word and I kind of challenged it. Is it really legacy if everybody has it? I remember sitting in rooms... Exactly, vintage, right? I remember sitting in rooms and everybody said" You just need to get two containers."" Well, why?"" Because that's the future." All right. So then we get on Docker and they're like" You're on Docker? You should be on Kubernetes." It's like... So for us, we joke when we look at observability. One of the things that we say is... When I look across our stack, obviously uptime is what we live and die on, when you're SAS product, so that's important to us. We have to know what's happening in all those different places. And I'd like to say that we've cracked that nut completely. We certainly have not cracked that nut completely, but where areas where we've been successful is where we really try to tie it back to a business outcome and look at the business process side of observability and what the outcome of that is and not necessarily" Okay, what's the health of this service over here? What's the hope of the service here?" So I'm a big fan of" Can I build a synthetic transaction around it? Can I build like what the user would experience?" Because that's going to tell me a whole lot more. One of my team members cracked me up. He said one day, he said" Now that we moved some of our services to microservices, when we have an outage, it's like solving a murder mystery." Whereas before with legacy, it's like" Oh, well, that'd be service now." Now it's like" Well, is it this service over here or this service over here?" And so you've almost... We've exponentiated the problem and we didn't realize it. We've used tools like Dynatrace to solve that, so I'll give them a plug because that's where they kind of figured that out. You've got to have that whole visibility. So you should talk to them.

Nirav Shah: Sure.

Shaun McAdams: crosstalk I almost think a lot of times legacy... This is Shaun's take on legacy, is that a lot of times we use that conversation to kind of defer responsibility." Oh, that was totally from the previous administration. That wasn't something that we were responsible for bringing." crosstalk I don't know what the term limit is on that. We do have a question online and I'll leave it open for the panel. So one person" So what are some tools that you've had the most success with in automating tasks?" You talk about RPA. Maybe we want to talk about specifically what tool you used?

Nirav Shah: Yeah, we are using currently automation anywhere. crosstalk

Shaun McAdams: Okay. There you go. Awesome. And then anyone in the room have a question around technology modernization? Put you guys on the spot here. Here we go. Right in the corner.

Speaker 4: Have you used any local no-code platforms [ inaudible 00:20:42]?

Nirav Shah: We actually are considering one right now as we speak. So I won't give you any name because we have a front runner there and then you lose the negotiation leverage. But yes, we are actually looking at. So automation anywhere definitely helping us from an RPA perspective. The local no- code, there are certain business cases that fits very well for us. Creation of forms, dynamic forms, things like that. So that's where we are focused on specifically. Also, it allows us to go to market a lot faster, and we all are facing talent shortage, and it's tough to go and recruit more and more software engineers, senior software engineers that can do that. So the platform like those would really help us. inaudible

Mike Loggins: We definitely leverage those, especially where we need the business to take a more active approach enrolling in that RPA conversation. So what are the reports they need to be done? What paths are they constantly working on? Using those low code no- code type RPA systems we've been able to free up a lot of that time, but not having a lot of IT involvement in giving that to the business crosstalk.

Shaun McAdams: Awesome. So that was a great segway, Nirav, that you had there when you talked about finding talent.

Nirav Shah: Yes.

Shaun McAdams: crosstalk. And we get to talk about people, hopefully in a positive way.

Nirav Shah: Okay. All right. We try.

Shaun McAdams: A lot of part of what you do, and I think is overlooked when you lead information technology, is really leading people. And so I'm going to put the talent and finding talent to the side for just a second. In the context of modernization, how do you influence people as an advocate of advancement?

Nirav Shah: That's good. I think somebody once told me, this was around four years ago and I'm not trying to age myself, but he said that you should spend the first 40 years of your life building your career and then spend the next 40 years of your life building your legacy. As a leader, I see the legacy of me should be the number of career I had a positive impact on. So it is my responsibility to go to each and every people of mine, challenge them to grow, give them an opportunity to grow. In today's world, in today's highly competitive world, when you give them an opportunity to grow and they do grow, they don't leave. And that is the right thing to do because you can advance them to a certain level and if they have the skills to get beyond that, you should be their number one cheerleader. When it comes to modernization, I think change management is the number one thing that... When you sit in front of and start talking" Hey guys, we are taking all our objects to cloud." Or" We are moving to containers." A lot of time... It's human behavior. We face this" What? I'm supposed to do this? And what's going to happen to my job? And is gran going to just replace all of us and get people who have already done that?" That's never true. As a leader, you'll never do that because you need the knowledge. But you have to encourage them and you have to say" Hey, first of all..." And one thing I've seen where the leaders have failed the most is they paint this rosy picture." Hey, once you get to AWSR, we get to Azure. This is how it's going to look." And they forget that it's going to be a painful journey. Okay, so it's important for the leader to stand in front of them and say" It is going to be painful as we go through this. But we are, as a leader, we are here to support you. We will provide the training, access to partners who can help us get through this process. And then the other side, now your resume will look completely different than what it's looking today." That's the only way you can get... Be their cheerleader and help them grow. And please, please, I encourage everyone not to be selfish. We talked about few minutes ago, where we would compete among ourselves and we're like" Hey, this is a talent. I don't want to lose it to SMC. And they don't want to lose..." That's no longer the case. We all have to work together, that way we keep the talent here in the great state of Indiana and keep promoting.

Grant Dawson: Yeah. Absolutely. When I look... You echoed it. For me, it's when I talk to employees about" Hey, we're going to go this direction, we're going to modernize. We're going to do these things." There is that trepidation initially of" Oh goodness. Do I have the skillset to do that?" But here's the good news by the very definition of modernization, nobody has the skillset to do it. So let's start there. It's not like we're going to go out and find somebody that has 10 years experience in Kafka, because Kafka has not been around necessarily for 10 years. And so, from my perspective, when we look at it, I always look at it as an opportunity to get people excited about the chance to really advance. When we hire, we build our team. I made a decision several years ago that we're going to hire generalists, even though I may really, really need somebody that can specialize in this tool set. The reality is that six months later, I will not need someone who specializes in that tool set. That's just the reality of our jobs. So when you hire generalists and you encourage them to branch out across the tech stack, they get excited and all of a sudden something clicks and then basically you create an environment of learning consistently. And when you do that, that's the best thing they can do. So if I'm looking at a legacy, I want someone to say" Hey, when I worked in Grant's organization, I felt like I always had an opportunity to add value to the business and learn something new, and I never was shoehorn or pigeonholed into this particular task or this particular group." And so that's what's important for me.

Mike Loggins: Yeah, no. So say, I kind of feel like as where I sit in the organization, my job is my people. We obviously have a focus around technology and we're expected to make good decisions to help advise the company with technology, but it's about the people that are in our organization. And much, like inaudible said, I need the people who want to grow. I want people who can get better. I want people to have the marketable skills that one day may get them out of SMC. There is no better feeling than having somebody that worked with you, that you trained, that you helped grow, be somewhere else and then be successful there. I have a lot of pride when that happens. Because I think that's leading, that's our responsibility. Like Nirav said, keeping them here and keeping those jobs where we can, inside of a group of companies and keeping them here is huge for the state as well and the local economy. So, making sure that we're not trying to compete with each other, it is huge. And for me when somebody comes and has the opportunity and takes it, takes that chance and, and brings passion to something that they are. My goal is to get out of the wet, find a way to let them go run with their passion and support that and let them go. So we have some people who are finding themselves. So they may peak in the certain types of jobs off and on for, for several years, then they find it. We have some people who know what they want to do, and we help get them that place. But definitely don't want to pigeonhole anyone, definitely want to make sure that the employees, the people who are doing the work are the ones really guiding how I support their career and not me just dictating here where everything goes.

Shaun McAdams: Knowing that the journey and IT modernization may be a little difficult, right? Maybe challenging at times. How do you keep the stoke level high? When you're investing in people, how do you keep them excited about the things and the initiatives that you're wanting the company to invest in?

Mike Loggins: Making sure everyone understands the vision at the end of the day. It's huge. They need to understand what we're going and then making sure we're very deliberate about celebrating successes. It's real... It is messy doing what we're trying to do. There's no easy way to monitor that. So there's no easy way to operate IT anymore. I have to monitor which is going to be messy. It's going to be dirty. Everyone needs to be able to embrace the suck and to be able to do that, you need to be able to celebrate those wins. You need to be able to make sure everyone understands the good things that are happening. The work that people are having so then there's a drive to want to continue better. It's also really important to celebrate the failures. Where have we tried something and not done well? What did we learn? And how did that affect us? And see that as a wing down the road. I think that that's the biggest thing. Is they need to feel... I think that the goal is to help them feel that they're part of something that's bigger than what they are and that they want to be a part of.

Grant Dawson: Yeah, Absolutely. When I look at it, I want everybody on my team, regardless of where they are in the organization, to be able to articulate, if they get on the elevator to CEO, what they're doing and why it adds value to the business and what the business outcome is of that. Because if they can't do that, then I'm not doing my job. I don't subscribe to the notion that people just want to come in and do their job and only care about their own little window, nor do I want those people on my team. I want people that see the bigger picture. And so it's kind of our job to set that and that vision. And absolutely, I love to... Everybody talks about celebrating your wins, but the other thing is you need to make your wins small and achievable, and you need to have iterative goals. A lot of times we start out with this Magnum Opus idea as leaders and we have this vision, and if we don't get there, then we ourselves aren't programmed to celebrate even the small steps along that journey and our team, they could have killed themselves for that first line on that Gantt chart and we're over here thinking about" Oh, what are we going to get done in Q3?" And so for me, it's really being able to dive down deep and up to be able to say" Hey, what you did, that got us here. And if you hadn't done this, we're not even moving there." And really articulating that.

Shaun McAdams: That's awesome. One of the things so new to the VP role. I was looking at how we do meetings and didn't want to get into status meetings. So I created this concept called Visa. And it's how we'd run these strategy sessions rather than doing-

Mike Loggins: Like the credit card?

Shaun McAdams: Yeah. That's right. I would pay for them, everybody would be super- crosstalk. Stoke level is high. But the idea was that we would carry a conversation through victories. And that's where we would start at first because so many things are going on that can bring you down. So if I can bring in the directors and we can talk about successes that we had, we can try to get that stoke level up. And then yeah, we're going to go into I, which is issues, solutions, and then actions. Jury's out on the success of that yet, because I'm just doing it. But I have seen at least the first part of those conversations, the... Everybody looking back on" Oh, well this was a success." Whether it was small or big and it's been beneficial. I did come across though, a video about 10 years ago, Mike, where you were able to give props to IT. crosstalk. Wait. Yeah, he was like" Wait a minute".

Mike Loggins: You said you had something on me crosstalk.

Shaun McAdams: No. Yeah. And you were able to lay down some pretty cool rhymes and rap.

Mike Loggins: crosstalk Sick beats.

Shaun McAdams: Yeah. Yeah. It was really- crosstalk. And so, I thought that was great. Even those little things where you do that and you put out, people enjoy it, lifts up their particular spirits. And so, I got to see that. You'll have to blame Adrian for that. So if you ever connect with her, you can do that. She did- crosstalk She did share that with me. My best part of that clip, at the very, very end you're on the back of a golf cart, I don't know who your associate is next to you, but he's making it rain and you have a wad of cash and you just go... And throw the entire wad cash out. But I thought that was super great. It's nice for, I think those that are delivering all these modernization efforts, be able to see us in those unique ways and give props in that. So, I thought that was great. I think that's probably about 10 years old so you're going to have to give yourself a little bit more time to work on your rhymes and do it again. But give you some props for that because I really enjoyed it so I can't imagine how much the folks that work for you enjoyed it at that time. So sticking with people. What are some other ways you're cultivating this modernization culture within IT so that they're naturally thinking about it? So, culture... Defining culture, here for me, would be just things that go without saying. So it's this naturally organically happening. What are things that you're doing or we could do to help cultivate that culture so that all of the technologists are thinking about automation, they're thinking about modernizing just in their day- to- day work?

Nirav Shah: I can take that one. At least start. I think number one, you have to, and I think Mike said this, you have to celebrate failure. But what I'm trying to say, are you to take the fear of failure away. Because I think that's pulling people back, because they are afraid that if they fail, they get one strike and no three strike, that kind of stuff. So you have to first take it away. You have to encourage people to say" Innovation is the only way we continue to serve our business." A lot of time what we see, and we see this, I'm sure you guys see this as well, where business goes out and they come to us with newer ideas because they go to the conferences and I'm like" No, we are IT. We should be going." Then the only way we could do them is we understand their business first of all very well. Spend time understanding the business and then feel free. No idea is a stupid idea. A third thing I would say, and I know this is not a diversity panel, but diversity plays a very key role. When we start talking about creating that culture where innovation, experimenting hackathons, it's just norm. And I think diversity play a role because I remember three and a half years ago, I started this job and I entered the room and there was no diversity. And I was wondering why we weren't an innovative culture. Why we weren't. And as we started making a leadership team and entire department more diverse, it's naturally started to be because people challenge each other, they come from different backgrounds and that helps a lot. Those would be my three, at least.

Mike Loggins: Yeah. When it comes to building that culture, I think you hit the nail on the head. It needs to be a safe place to fail. You need to trust your team. So that's a huge... As a team grows, as it's increasing, there's going to be conflict. And I think making sure that you can handle the conflict correctly and really, it'll help continually build that cycle of being able to innovate. Also at SMC, along the lines Nirav was talking about, understanding the business. We've been for the last... Well, we had to take a break because of COVID, but we had about every quarter or so, we had what's called an open space event, which is a great opportunity. Allowed people from IT, from anywhere in the business, anyone in the company is allowed to join and we're allowed to talk about topics that affect the business and affect IT. We get people outside of IT chiming on IT conversations, so we get a different perspective. We get to understand what they're trying to and why it's important to them and it brings a lot of different understanding there. So then we walk out of that with experiments, with knowledge, with understanding, with compassion and empathy, for what pain sometimes we cause. They say the empathy and compassion on the pain make and can sometimes cause us. So it really changes the whole culture of the company to a certain degree to start not just worrying about innovation from an IT standpoint, but then innovating as a company as a whole. But knowing that we have a part to play in that.

Grant Dawson: Yeah. And I'll just add one thing, because these are great comments, echo all of it. But the other thing is, is I think as leaders, we have to be vulnerable and the best conversations I've ever had, it's important that when you're in the room, that you are not the smartest person in the room. And so when I'm on a call with my directs, I'm just absolutely humbled when I'm in the room with them, because these are just really smart people and the best outcomes that we've ever had, whether we're in adversity or we're dealing with an issue or an incident, whatever it might be, is when I've just made the comment" I have no idea. Does anybody have any crazy ideas?" Because if they... If you always have an answer and your approach is the Socratic method of getting everybody to feel your vision, then you're never going to grow as a leader either. And so when you open yourself up to humble and... When we were going through, I know this isn't a COVID panel, but when we had people spread out all over and things were in disarray, that affects the team. And so, rather than just being able to say" Oh, I've got all the answers. We're all remote now. We can't fly in and see each other. All that's gone and we've got to maintain our data centers. What are we going to do?" Rather than have a meeting where we just went" Hey guys, this is our path forward. Go." I got on a call and said"All right. Anybody got any crazy ideas? Because this is going to be a wild year." And out of that came one of our most, I would say one of our biggest team building years. I'm blessed to say that we kept everybody on the team through all of that. And that was just because I think we just said" You're empowered to help us through this. This sucks. Let's figure it out together."

Angel Leon: Thank you for listening in to this week's edition of ASCII Anything presented by Moser Consulting. We hope you enjoy listening in to part one of our CIO round table. Make sure to join us next week when we will be bringing you part two of the CIO round table. Remember, if you have an idea or a topic you'd like for us to explore, please reach out to us through our social media channels. In the meantime, please remember to give us a rating and subscribe to our feed wherever you get your podcasts. Until then so long, everybody.


This week's episode shares the discussion from a CIO Roundtable hosted by Dynatrace and Moser Consulting. The panelists include Grant Dawson, Vice President of IT for T2 Systems, Nirav Shah, Vice President of IT for Republic Airways, Michael Loggins, Global Vice President of IT for SMC, and Moser Consulting's very own, Shaun McAdams, our Vice President of Data and Analytics. This is part one of a two-part series in which our panelists discuss moving forward in tech and what that looks like currently.

Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Angel Leon

|Director of Personnel

Today's Guests

Guest Thumbnail

Nirav Shah

|VP of IT Systems for Republic Airways
Guest Thumbnail

Shaun McAdams

|VP of Data & Analytics for Moser Consulting
Guest Thumbnail

Grant Dawson

|VP of IT for T2 Systems
Guest Thumbnail

Michael Loggins

|Global VP of IT for SMC