08:00 AM

Defining IT Leadership: You Have a Brand New Job

At Interop ITX, coming up next month, a track of more than two dozen presentations will provide valuable advice to IT executives, including pointers on how to balance technical and soft skills for their teams and themselves.

There's a never-ending shift in the balance between the hard tech skills and the "softer" business and communication capabilities that IT leaders need. What's the role of the CIO? Well, it depends on where we are in computing's continuum.

Many years ago, the newly christened role of CIO called for that executive to sit in the C-suite coordinating all information resources and strategizing new business initiatives based on data. With the dawn of the Web and truly mobile computing that CIO shifted into the "uber geek", identifying gadgets and apps that "someone, anyone" in the enterprise might need. That mistake bumped plenty of CIOs out of the executive suite and back to the data center. Just five years ago, those CIOs were left in maintenance mode, keeping costs down and systems running as a utility.

Today, CIOs and their teams are back in management's good graces. We have plenty of data and more computing power in our pockets than the pioneers like the IBM 360 team could imagine for whole companies in the 1960s. Now CIOs are on a mission to turn data --  spread across corporate systems, the cloud, employee phones, even customer computers and employee experience -- into information that can be brought to action for the of the company and its customers.

It's time for the CIO to be a leader, to work across departmental borders and even with external partners to define a data strategy, to tap the knowledge resting in all those silos, to understand the needs of business units, and to identify opportunities.

When Interop ITX kicks off in May at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that leadership role will be a key focus. Throughout the week of May 15, UBM will present an IT Leadership Summit and an IT Leadership and Professional Development session track.

Two dozen sessions will be packed with advice, insight into IT trends, and discussion about strategies and techniques specifically for IT leaders, from the team leader to the CIO.

What you will detect is a fresh emphasis on soft skills, particularly managing people and the ability to communicate, not only with the IT team but with top executives, and business unit managers. Speakers will delve into how IT professionals can go beyond responding to trouble tickets and become an extension of the business unit, understanding how line workers need to get their jobs done. IT can't just be reactive any more, it must be a partner with business leaders.

You'll hear plenty of discussion about culture, including the culture of the IT organization, hiring the right people who fit into the culture, and how IT itself fits into the corporate culture. It's time to consider the new role of IT leaders. They are still part technologist, but it also deal makers, detectives finding stashes of data, visionaries looking ahead to the business world of the 2020s, budgeters, mediators of inter-departmental squabbles, trustees of company knowledge, and advocate for customers.

In this slideshow we offer a look at just a few of the presentations that might fill an IT leader's week at Interop, even if you never get to the rest of the 100-plus sessions in our other five tracks (infrastructure, cloud, DevOps, security, and data and analytics). Follow our slide show to learn more about some of the sessions by clicking the arrows above or below.


Workshop: Leading and Developing Careers in a Changing IT Landscape

Monday 9 am to 12 pm

Led by Rob Cordova, Master Leadership Trainer, Rob Cordova Consulting.

A changing IT landscape means changing competencies, skills, and career pathing, which can cause havoc for a leader trying to exceed business goals while ensuring their employees are developing into relevant professionals. This workshop helps leaders identify opportunities to move people from current state to an aspirational future state. Participants will dive into talent analysis while creating several options to piece together effective coaching and development plans. A simple process will be presented as the the building blocks to create meaningful and engaging development plans.

Rob's workshop on Monday, May 15, kicks off five days of informative programs in the Interop ITX Leadership track.

Rob Cordova
Rob Cordova

InformationWeek IT Leadership Summit

Monday, 1-5 pm, Tuesday, 9 am - 5 pm

Lenny Liebmann, Contributing Editor, InformationWeek; Tania Anaissie, Lecturer and Experience Designer, Stanford; Nathen Harvey, Vice President, Community Development, Chef Software; Larry Bonfante, Founder, CIO Bench Coach; David Guzman, CIO, H.D. Smith; Khalid Kark, Director, CIO Program, Deloitte; Caroline Tsay, CEO & Co-Founder, Compute Software.

There has never been a better time to be an IT leader. However, the leadership philosophies and skills that got you this far are not going to allow you to be successful in a world of increased complexity, rising expectations, and accelerating change. You'll hear from successful IT executives about practical, real world strategies they have used to create business value. You'll also learn about frameworks, tools and best practices for leading your organization up the IT maturity curve.


IT Career Development Myths and Truths

Wednesday, May 17, 11:40 am - 12:40 pm

Katy Tynan, Managing Director, CoreAxis Consulting; Sonia Cuff,|  Co-Founder, The Missing Chair; Cornelia Davis,  Senior Director of Technology, Pivotal; Bjorn Freeman-Benson, CTO, InVision; Shannon Fuller, Director, Data Governance, Carolinas Healthcare System.

Is there really an IT skills shortage? Do you have to become a manager if you want to make more money in this industry? Is IT really a tough place for women to work? There's some truth and some myth in what we believe about getting ahead in IT. In this interactive panel, hear from experts who've been there and done that. Ask your toughest questions, and find out what's true, and what's hype as we explore the ins and outs of IT careers.

Katy Tynan
Katy Tynan

An Honest Look at Leading Distributed Teams

Wednesday, 3:20-4:20 pm

Bjorn Freeman-Benson  |  CTO, InVision

Do distributed teams really work? We've all heard the benefits for employees: improved work-life balance, increased flexibility, and broader employment opportunities. For employers, having a distributed workforce pays dividends in increased productivity and the ability to recruit and retain the best of the best.  From a leadership perspective, managing a successful distributed team is both the same as, and different from, managing an in-office team. This talk looks at the rewards and challenges, including how you must adapt leadership styles and management tools in a distributed environment. Hear stories of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and talk about how to translate and update your skills for the remote workforce of the future.

Bjorn Freeman-Benson
Bjorn Freeman-Benson


Elevating Women in Tech: Practical Strategies (Panel Discussion)

Wednesday, 4:30-5:30 pm

Patricia Dugan, It's The Community; Genetha Gray, Intel; Greg Nielsen, IPitimi; Dona Sarkar, Microsoft; Rachael Stedman, Lever; Susan Wu, Midokura

It's no secret that succeeding as a woman in technology is far more difficult than it should be. Despite a high level of awareness, the problem of underrepresentation of women as technical practitioners persists. How can you counter this trend and make strides toward gender equality in your workplace? You will hear from panelists who share their success stories and practical strategies for increasing the engagement of women in tech fields and beyond.

Patricia Dugan
Patricia Dugan

IT as a Catalyst for Company Transformation

Wednesday, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Olga Braylovskiy, Vice President, Workforce Technology, Intuit

Innovate or die. While there are many variations of that motto, that's at the heart of established companies that want to succeed in the rapidly changing world of technology. But driving innovation is no simple task for IT leaders who face a growing laundry list of operational demands, insatiable employees, and legacy technologies to maintain. Even so, more than any other group IT is in the best position to understand companywide enterprise strategy, balance priorities and drive change. So, how can IT leaders and managers drive transformation, helping a company increase innovation while securing systems and data in a global environment?

Olga Braylovskiy
Olga Braylovskiy

Leading Your IT Team from Chaos to Competence

Thursday, 10:30 - 11:30am

David Caldwell, Kaiser Permanente

Poorly managed IT organizations where chaos rather than consistent, competent execution reigns is the bane of existence for IT leaders – successful delivery of IT services can only be achieved when technology practices and processes align to best practice frameworks that ensure consistent and competent delivery. But where do you start to drive effective change when your current IT organizational landscape is in disarray?

Targeted to senior IT leaders and middle managers, this session will discuss a progressive plan to drive your IT organization to consistent execution practices without asking them to necessarily absorb (and potentially choke on) too much change all at once.

David Caldwell
David Caldwell

Building Strategic IT Business Relationships

Thursday, 2:10 - 3:10pm

Kathryn Brett Goldman, Director, KBG Solutions Ltd

This presentation focuses on inspiring IT Leaders to build excellent relationships at all levels of their organization. Discover why strategic business relationships are not just important, but foundational to IT success.

Kathryn Brett Goldman
Kathryn Brett Goldman

  • Why are relationships are important? The Technology First /People Last approach is dying out fast- is your IT department a control center or a campfire? How is your organization going to change to meet new customer demand? What are the new skills and competencies required to be successful in a people-first, collaboration-centric model. (Soft Skills, Communication/Collaboration skills, Business Acumen, Change Management, Negotiation, Influence, Advocacy, Leadership).
  • Fundamentals of Relationships- What makes a great relationship? How do we build trust and alignment, what is the psychology and neurology that underlines relationship dynamics, and how to develop critical 'soft skills' that help you connect and work 'at the table' with your business peers.
  • Stakeholder Identification and Analysis- Discover who you should build relationships with, how to grow your network and influence in IT, across the business, and with partners outside your organization. Learn about building your own strategies for engagement and see what practical tools can be leveraged to help define analysis and context of your customer relationships.
  • Measuring Relationship Success - how do you know you are doing well? How do we treat relationships as assets for delivering a new model of IT, ready for a digital age.
  • Packed with anecdotes, stories, and lessons learned from a variety of Industries, we focus on managing business change, shaping and steering IT demand with a business outcome focus, and growing IT professionals into the business leaders of the future.

Millennial Re-Tension: How Organizations Can Keep Emerging Talent (Panel)

Thursday, 3:20pm - 4:20pm

Aaron Berger, (Moderator), Vice President, Ketchum Public Relations

Entitled. Lazy. Self-congratulatory. Everyone's heard the stereotypes about the millennial worker. But there is another word that you don't hear as much – indispensable -- because according to the Pew Research Center, millennials now surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in the US labor force. But the workplace is still adjusting.

A recent study from Deloitte found that two-thirds of millennials intend to leave their current organizations within the next three years. This panel will focus on the tension between millennials and employers, exploring why this generation likes to jump jobs so often. What's myth and what's reality? How can the model be fixed? What can large companies do to retain their best next-gen talent? Why the radical change in how young people view careers? And should millennials be blamed, or have organizations fundamentally changed their priorities in ways that continue to make millennials job hop? This panel of experts will explore these questions and many more. Aaron Berger will moderate.

Aaron Berger
Aaron Berger

Leading Ethically with Agility

Thursday, 4:30 - 5:30pm

Anjuan Simmons, Technical Program Manager, Assemble Systems

Whether you're a tech lead, engineering manager, or project manager for an engineering team, you probably weren't handed a leadership instruction manual when you were given your first team to lead. You also probably had to wing it when you encountered the ethical dilemmas that all leaders inevitably encounter. Even experienced technical leaders usually operate from a set of instincts and the hard lessons learned from painful mistakes. However, leadership is a skill that you can learn and develop if you know where to look. You don't have to be a "born leader," but you do need a set of principles to guide the leader within you. This session will teach you how to apply the principles in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development to become a leader equipped with an ethical framework for making decisions.

Anjuan Simmons
Anjuan Simmons

Talent is Skills Plus Culture

Friday, 9:00 - 10:00 am

Joseph Eng, CIO, TravelClick

Because of the diversity of business models, talent is no longer just skills but skills and culture. There are many articles in sports and corporate culture where culture is a driving force in the hiring or firing process. To be successful, one does not exist without the other. Even if employers are tempted to hire someone that they think has the skills, if they hire them into a culture that doesn't work, it won't work, or it is definitely more challenging. The wrong culture will not provide a new hire a place to thrive. Likewise, only a culture match may not work. The best candidates are those that match the skill set and the culture set. So how can you interview them on their culture? This is an ongoing process that each company needs to work on. It is an ongoing process to find the right balance and determine how to assess the culture of the person.

Joseph Eng
Joseph Eng

Then, There's More

Navigating the Process of Innovation (A Workshop)

Monday, 1 - 5 pm

Culture Shock: Building High Performing, Cross Functional Teams

Wednesday, 2:10 - 3:10 pm

How to Be More Innovative in 15 Minutes

Wednesday, 3:20 - 4:20 pm

Healing Corporate America Starts with Us

Thursday, 2:10 - 3:10 pm

Developing Your Personal Brand

Thursday, 3:20 - 4:20 pm

How the Explosion of Data Science Is Changing IT

Thursday, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Securing the Future of IT Through Recruitment: A Dual View

Thursday, 4:30 - 5:30 pm

Four Faces of Strategic IT Leadership

Friday, 11:20 am - 12:20 pm

Then, it's time to head home. The folks at UBM hope you have a great week, that you learn a lot, that you do some networking, and that you have some fun. See you in Las Vegas.

Image: TipKilby/Pixabay
Image: TipKilby/Pixabay


Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he was editor ... View Full Bio

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