666: In this interview, Pres. Vicente Fox covers the topic of leadership and the key traits that determine a successful leader. He starts by giving a thumbnail sketch of the state of politics currently in Mexico and other Latin American countries and describes the evolution that Mexico has undergone to become a hub for technology and talent in the global economy. Pres. Fox also shares his perspective on the current war in Ukraine and why leadership needs to be both compassionate and purposeful in order for it to work. Finally, Pres. Fox talks about what makes him optimistic for the future and the work that he is doing now to make it a better place for everyone.

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546: General Stanley McChrystal has decades of leadership experience. In this interview, we discuss the importance of adaptability and agility, and General MyChrystal’s view that nimbleness is a continuous journey. He notes that cross-functional collaboration is not automatic, and organizations must be deliberate in fostering trust in a distributed environment. To do this, he suggests that transparency, vulnerability, individual empowerment, and a common purpose are all critical ingredients. We also discuss the characteristics of a resilient organization and which lessons from the military he sees as most applicable to the business realm, among a variety of other topics.

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This episode is sponsored by Apptio.

371: General Stanley McChrystal explores a variety of different genres of leaders, including geniuses, founders, politicians, reformers, heroes, and zealots. While he asserts that a group’s performance is less about the leader’s ability and more about the surrounding factors, General McChrystal claims that the best leaders are those who are empathetic to the group’s position at a given time and are able to constantly adapt. Throughout our conversation, we also discuss General McChrystal’s evolving opinions on Robert E. Lee, his experience with his nemesis in Al Qaeda Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and why he dedicated his book to John McCain and John Lewis.

General McChrystal is a retired four-star general of the US Army and the author of multiple books, including his most recent one, Leaders: Myth and Reality. Following a 34-year career in the United States Army, General McChrystal founded the McChrystal Group, an advisory services firm that specializes in leadership consulting.

  • The four E’s Bill focused on while Governor of Colorado: energy, environment, economy, and equity for customers.
  • Bill’s perspective that collaboration between the private and public sector, especially at the state level, is necessary to develop a new energy economy.
  • Bill’s work with utility CEOs in facilitating the energy transition and the two major factors driving it: the fact that utilities are setting emission targets, and the fact that the partisan divide around energy and the environment is less pronounced at the state level.
  • Bill’s focus as Strategy Partner at Blackhorn Ventures, where he focuses on the future of the built environment, the energy sector, and the transportation industry.
  • The budding economy in Colorado, including the state’s ingrained entrepreneurial spirit and growing startup community, strong aerospace industry, and growing financial sector.

Bill was the 41st Governor of Colorado, serving in that capacity from 2007 through 2011. Currently, Bill is an Energy Strategy Partner at Blackhorn Ventures where he focuses on the built environment, the energy sector, and the transportation sector. Bill is also the Founder of The Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. In this role, Bill drives the organizations mission to work with state governments and the private sector to transform energy production across the country. As Governor, Bill oversaw Colorado’s renewable energy focused transition to create an environmentally friendly energy economy. Bill signed 57 bills into law as governor, including the thirty percent Renewable Portfolio Standard Act. Before becoming Governor, Bill served as Denver’s District Attorney. Bill received his Bachelor degree in political science from Colorado State University and his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law.

  • How the DWP touches all lives in the United Kingdom whether that be looking after children with separated parents, the working class, disabled people, or retired people to produce better outcomes for them and society
  • The DWP’s digital goal to become more efficient by meeting the emerging customer experiences to improve outcomes for society
  • How the DWP is able to satisfy the diverse group of people that they serve by avoiding a one size fits all strategy in favor of active segmentation that leads to better delivery of targeted services
  • How being an older company can be an advantage during a digital transformation due to the diverse mature analytics on data spanning over decades
  • How the DWP has balanced retaining existing employees and hiring new talent by holding a series of interventions to help existing employees think about their values while additionally bringing in new people for the people in-house to learn from
  • Why Mayank prefers a more combined approach to IT versus a bimodal IT approach
  • Why Mayank switched from the private to the public sector including the opportunity to catch up to the private sector in technology transformation, the opportunity to make an impact on 22 million real people’s lives, and the chance to work with the most talented and humble people

Mayank is the Chief Digital and Information Officer of the United Kingdom’s Department of Work and Pensions, the UK’s largest public service department which impacts over 22 million citizens. Mayank is responsible for IT infrastructure, data, and security, as well as for driving the implementation and adoption of digital technologies to meet emerging customer expectations.

Prior to joining the DWP, Mayank was a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley where he was responsible for Global Wealth and Investment Management Technology. Prior to that, Mayank was the Chief Information Officer at Sage UK. Prior to Sage UK, Mayank was the Group Chief Information Officer at iSOFT. Prior to iSOFT, Mayank was the International Chief Information Officer at Avaya.

Mayank received his MBA from The Manchester Business School, and has completed the executive program at Singularity University (non-accredited). Mayank is a Wharton Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mayank currently serves on the board of the Tech Partnership in London and for the DWP.

 

Among other topics, President Ilves discussed the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • How President Ilves’ international upbringing shaped his worldview, including the influences of growing up bilingual, being a child of refugee parents, and learning to program at a young age
  • The role that President Ilves played in pushing the digitization narrative, both before he was President as part of the underground Communist resistance, as well as during his presidency
  • The impact that becoming a newly independent nation around the time that the internet was exploding had on Estonia’s ability to recognize the power of a digital society, and Estonia’s early digitization efforts such as e-identity and the X-Roads distributed architecture which was implemented in 2001
  • The collaboration required between the government, the private sector, and the public that was required to digitize the nation, why the private sector and general public have been more enthusiastic than the government due to the business efficiencies and personal conveniences, and how thee digital system is decoupled from politics in the mind of the Estonian people
  • Estonia’s cyber-war with Russia, which was the first of its kind, and how it resulted in the creation of the NATO Center for excellence in Cyber Security, which is located in Estonia
  • The features of Estonia’s e-residency program, such as being able to become an e-citizen and set up an online business registered in the European Union, and how that helps Estonia’s economy compensate despite its small geography and population
  • President Ilves’ focus since leaving office, including his academic focus on threats to democracy in the digital era, and work with other nations that are interesting in emulating Estonia’s digital society

President Ilves was the fourth President of Estonia, serving two consecutive terms between 2006 and 2016. During his time in office, he ushered in a number of changes that have led many to refer to Estonia as the most digitally savvy country on earth. He successfully defended his country in a cyberwar with Russia, introduced e-voting, digital health records, and e-residency programs to name just a few. Since his term ended, President Ilves has focused on issues related to e-government and cybersecurity as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, as the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman-Sprogli Institute for International Studies, and as the Co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Blockchain. Ilves also works with nations looking to emulate Estonia’s digital society as the CEO of Ilves Consulting Group.

While President of Estonia, Ilves was appointed to several high positions in the field of information and communications technology in the European Union, including serving as the Chairman of the EU Task Force on eHealth, Chairman of the European Cloud Partnership Steering Board, Co-chair of the advisory panel of the World Bank’s Digital Dividends report, and Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Cyber Security.

Prior to serving as President, President Ilves was a member of the European Parliament, where he was Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Prior to this, he serves as a member of the Estonian Parliament. Before being elected to Parliament, President Ilves was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, and briefly served as a Chairman of the North Atlantic Institute. Prior to being appointed Minister, Ilves served as the Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States of America and Canada. During this time, he initiated a program to computerize and connect all Estonian schools, the countries first digital initiative. Before serving in the Estonian Government, President  Ilves worked at the office of Radio Free Europe in Germany, first as a research and foreign policy analysis, and later as the head of the Estonian Service.

President Ilves has written extensively on topics ranging from Estonian language to global foreign and security policy, and he has received numerous international awards and honorary degrees for his work.

President Ilves obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Columbia University, and a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Among other topics, David discussed the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • David’s work as Executive Director of the People-Centered Internet, which seeks to create demonstration projects of the internet’s ability to measurably improve people’s lives and serve as a catalyst for change
  • The reason engineers are not well equipped to recognize the unintended consequences of technology, and the growing challenge as the pace of technological progress accelerates
  • How David prioritizes PCIs efforts, and their current focus on rebuilding power and communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico, helping restore the identity documents of those affected by the California wildfires, and providing internet services to Native American communities
  • David’s approach to developing partnerships bringing together diverse groups of positive change agents
  • The advantage of David having grown his career in the government, such as learning how to thrive in a resource-constrained environment, and how to navigate multiple constituencies
  • David’s experience as a Marshall Fellow in 2018, where he looks at the rise in preferences for direct democracy and mistrust of government
  • How and why David engages the academic community on topics concerning the future

Prior to joining PCI, David served as the Chief Information Officer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While at the FCC, David led the transformation of their legacy systems, including the roll-out of cloud-based IT that achieved results in ½ the time and at ⅙ the cost. Prior to joining the FCC, David was the Executive Director for the National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community. Prior to that, David was a Senior Strategist at the Institute for Defence Analysis (IDA) and a Defense Researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (SDPI). During this time, David volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan to help “think differently” on military and humanitarian issues. Before IDA and SDPI, David was the IT Chief for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response program, where he led the program’s technology response to 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax attacks. David began working for the U.S. government at age 15.

David has received numerous awards for his work, including being named one of the top “24 Americans Who Are Changing the World” under 40 by Business Insider, the Global CIO 10 Award twice, the Fedscoop 50 leadership award three times, among many others.

David has lectured at Harvard University, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Oxford, as well as at Singularity University. David was named a Marshall Memorial Fellow for 2017-2018.

David earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Biology from Emory University, a Masters of Science in Public Health from Emory University School of Medicine, and a PhD from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

Among other topics, Vint discussed the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • Vint’s early work pioneering what would become the internet, including his time at UCLA, Stanford, and DAPRA
  • Early milestones that hinted at the vast implications of/commercialization potential for the internet, such as networked electronic mail, document production and sharing, hyperlinking, web browser, and eventually, the iPhone
  • The internet as the common thread unifying Vint’s work across his many spheres of influence, such as academia, the public sector, the private sector, and not-for-profits
  • Vint’s role as Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, where he works with developing economies to create the conditions for internet infrastructure to be built
  • The unintended consequences of the global infrastructure that is the internet, such as misinformation and spam, and why international policy collaboration is a necessary part of the solution
  • Vint’s work as Chairman of the People Centered Internet (PCI), which focuses on materially improving the value of the internet to the growing, connected population. For example, PCI may ensure information is available in local languages, or promote services that improve economic stability, safety, or health.
  • How recent natural disasters such as the California wildfires and hurricanes in the Caribbean have led PCI’s to also focus on the role of internet infrastructure in disaster relief
  • The double-edged sword of technology, and the responsibility that engineers have to consider the ethical implications of the technology they are developing
  • Eye on the trends: cyber-physical systems, making IoT ecosystem a safe and trusted environment

Vint is currently Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, a flexible role that allows him to support the development and continued spread of the Internet, as well as the Chairman of the People-Centered Internet (PCI), an organization he co-founded to ensure that internet access brings measurable benefits to the world.

Vint has received numerous awards for his contributions to the Internet, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded by President Clinton), US National Medal of Technology (awarded by President Bush), the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the ACM Turing Award, the Prince of Asturias Award, the Charles Stark Draper award, Officer of the Legion d’Honneur, among many others. Vint has received honorary degrees from 29 academic institutions around the world.

Vint received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Stanford University, a Master of Science degree and Ph.D. Computer Science from UCLA.

Among other topics, Denis and Gill discussed the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • The role of technology in advancing the World Bank Group’s mission, and how it goes about exploring how it can leverage emerging technologies
  • How Capital One is balancing the need to explore and leverage new technologies with the reality of its legacy systems
  • The rationale, key activities, and challenges around both organizations’ migration to the cloud
  • The World Bank’s transition from waterfall development to agile development
  • The value WBG sees in blockchain, and some of the proof of concepts they are exploring in their blockchain-focused innovation lab such as land titles and remittances
  • The implications of blockchain in the financial services industry, especially regarding the security benefits
  • How large organizations can facilitate trust with their customers, and the challenges of competing  with consumer-focused technology companies
  • The challenges facing the WBG ITS department, such as budget cuts and expectation to deliver more results with less resources
  • Gill’s perspective on Capital One’s innovation lab, such as the way in which it is organized, its impact on attracting talent, and some of the innovations that have come out of the lab
  • Eye on the trends: artificial intelligence, voice interfaces, and cognitive insights

Denis is the VP of Information and Technology Solutions (ITS) and CIO of the World Bank Group, an international organization and development bank focused on the twin goals of ending extreme Poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the bottom 40 percent of population in every country. As CIO, Denis manages the World Bank Group’s information management and information technology portfolio, which is tightly linked with the institutions’ overall strategic direction.

Denis joined the World Bank in 1998, where he has held a variety of leadership positions before ascending to the CIO role.

Denis has a degree in Civil Engineering from Laval University.

Gill Haus is SVP Retail and Direct Bank CIO at Capital One, a Fortune 100 company with $25.5 billion in revenue. At Capital One, Gill is responsible for building and sustaining an innovative technology organization while fostering a culture of excellence in software engineering, all in pursuit of Capital One’s strategic mission.

Gill joined Capital One in January 2016 and has held a variety of leadership roles, most recently as Managing VP Retail and Direct Bank CIO. Prior to Capital One, Gill had technology executive positions at AOL, Curb, and at PayPal.

Gill received a Bachelors in Information Systems from the University of Maryland.

Among other topics, Taavi discussed the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • The conditions that enabled Estonia’s transformation into the world’s most advanced digital society
  • Taavi’s transition from CEO of one of the largest software development companies in the Baltic states to Estonian Government CIO, as well as some of the early projects he led
  • How blockchain technology can provide an extra layer of data security
  • How Estonia reduces friction for citizens by using regulation to encourage data sharing between government entities
  • The ways in which digital technology improves efficiency and simplifies life for Estonian citizens in areas such as healthcare, banking, taxes, education, voting, law enforcement, among others
  • How giving citizens control over their data creates a self-enforcing mechanism that protects privacy and provides security
  • The genesis of Estonia’s e-Residency program, and how it allows Estonia to grow its economy without relying on increased birth rates or immigration
  • Taavi’s view on the disruption of government and the future of digital society

Taavi is the former CIO of the Estonian Government, which is widely recognized as the most advanced digital society in the world. As CIO, Taavi was the driving force behind many of Estonia’s e-government innovations such as its e-Residency program, which, just two years after launch, offers a transnational digital identity to over 20,000 e-Residents worldwide.

Prior to his four-year term as the Estonian Government CIO, Taavi was the CEO of Nortal (previously Webmedia), one of the largest software development companies in the Baltic States. Taavi was one of Webmedia’s founding members and served as its Chief Development Officer and Managing Director prior to becoming CEO. Taavi serves as Special Advisor to the European Commissioner for Digital Single Market, advising on issues regarding digital single market issues and e-governance. Taavi was named Estonian Entrepreneur of the year in 2011 by Ernst & Young, the European CIO of the year in 2014 by ICT Spring, and the 12th brightest business mind in North-Europe in 2016 by the Nordic Business Forum.

Taavi obtained a Master of Science in Engineering from Tallinn University of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Information Technology from the University of Tartu.