821: The topic of generative AI needs no introduction, however, that doesn’t mean that it is easy to move fast on the journey towards developing and scaling it within an organization. On a panel from our September Metis Strategy Digital Symposium, Salumeh Companieh, Chief Digital & Information Officer of Cushman & Wakefield, and Dak Liyanearachchi, Head of Data & 

Technology at NRG Energy, speak about their approaches to AI and how they prepared their organizations to leverage it effectively. Both executives share the challenges they face in educating their teams, tackling practical problems with AI adoption, and prioritizing the use cases to experiment. They also discuss how it is shaping their respective industries, the what opportunities it presents, and how they balance innovation and risk management.

Also available on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/cEkl2_2f2V0

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco’s Panoptica.

817: Andrew Brock joins the broadcast to speak about the future of real estate innovation and how he has paved the way for Associa to become a technology company at its core. Andrew shares his journey in the company, the unique approach Associa takes with its entrepreneurial culture and acquisition strategy, and the vision he brings to Associa’s digital transformation. He also explains his purview as President and CEO of HOAM Ventures, the team he has curated there, and how he manages his expansive responsibilities across these roles. Finally, Andrew shares the exciting trends in AI and data that are on his radar for the future and details the secrets to his career success.

Also available on YouTube:

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco’s Panoptica.

753: Having been with the company for nearly a decade and ascending to the role of CDIO one year ago, Sal shares the remarkable transformation she has driven at the company to bring world-class technology to world-class real estate. She speaks about her approach to end-to-end technology, the implementation of a chief data officer role to curate better insights, and the creation of a business information officer role to align her team with the broader business. She also emphasizes the importance of diversity in thought when it comes to business decision-making and why she prioritizes an ESG strategy at the company. Finally, Sal looks ahead at trends in technology and reflects on the keys to her career success.

Audio-only is also available on YouTube:

Some executives have the same job across many companies. They bring a strong toolkit into different environments, and, for a time, help drive change for those companies. Other executives have many jobs in the same company. They get to know their companies as well as anyone. When they reach executive levels, they are well equipped to collaborate with and mentor those who have taken over their old responsibilities. They understand how the company works better than most. They have a great internal network to tap to drive innovation. Ramon Richards is the latter type of executive.

Richards joined the $47.5 billion revenue mortgage financing company Fannie Mae 23 years ago. Since then, he has six roles prior to ascending to the role of CIO in August of 2021:

  • Development Manager
  • Director, Corporate Functions, Finance & General Ledger Systems
  • Vice President, Finance and Corporate Functions Technology
  • Vice President, Securitization and Credit Technology
  • Senior Vice President, Securitization & Servicing Technology
  • Senior Vice President, Integrated Technology Solutions

He admits that he did not think he would remain with the company for more than two decades when he joined. He has stayed, however, because he has been able to learn and take on new opportunities. “On my journey, the work has remained interesting and challenging and has kept me fully engaged,” he noted. “Another important part of it, being in the world of technology, you’re always learning, and the learning was encouraged.” He also understands that Fannie Mae has had tremendous advantages in keeping an executive of his tenure in the fold for so long. “I’m deeply connected with our mission and highly motivated with the things that we are doing and how we are trying to improve access to housing,” Richards said. “I understand the culture and I’m able to identify where there are opportunities for us to continue to evolve as a company. I think there’s an ability to connect the dots differently when you really understand how all aspects of the company works from business to operations to technology, which has allowed me to influence differently than maybe someone who hasn’t spent as much time understanding the inner workings of the company.”

Richards and his team have driven a tremendous digital transformation over the course of the past several years. There has been a focus on building the skills of the future so that his team can meet the demand for digital capabilities across the enterprise. He has also driven a reduction in legacy technology so that there is a better, less complex tech stack that he and the team manage. Agile practices have also been an important change factor as has the shift to a greater emphasis on automation and cloud technology. Richards’ team is increasing the pace at which it can deliver software while also reducing costs along the way.

The IT team now has a better foundation upon which it can innovate. To exemplify that innovation, Richards highlights an automated underwriting system that his team helped put in place to incorporate consistent rent payment history in credit evaluations. Long time renters who pay their rent every month should be establishing credit worthiness for what is typically the biggest bill of the month. And yet, it has not typically contributed to an evaluation of credit worthiness. This allows Fannie Mae to qualify more borrowers for mortgage loans. It is an idea that almost seems obvious once it is explained, at yet it is a first of its kind in the industry. There were considerable tech changes necessary to allow this idea to blossom. “We have taken advantage of some of our cloud capabilities as well as machine learning capabilities…to unlock the payment rental history,” said Richards. “This is a major contribution to the company’s core principle of increasing access to housing.”

The key to unlocking innovation at Fannie Mae is in building a team that is curious and ambitious enough to want to develop the best ideas for the future. It begins with having the right training. “We have a curriculum that we’ve established to build the skill sets to be a full-stack engineer,” said Richards. “We have a curriculum in place to build advanced cloud engineering skills, as well. We also invest in leadership and management skills because you need both in order to have a high-performing team.” Additionally, his career path has become more de rigeur for his colleagues. When an employee is ready for the next opportunity, suggesting other parts of the company can increase the possibility that they will stay rather than seek that next opportunity outside of the company. “In the kind of talent market that we’re in today, it’s important to retain your individuals,” Richards underscored. “We are very focused on finding new opportunities for individuals when they’re ready for the next chapter in their career. It’s a much better answer for the company than those individuals deciding to leave.”

This people-powered innovation engine came in handy when the pandemic struck. Many of Fannie Mae’s customers were hit hard by the health crisis that quickly became a financial crisis for many. “Fortunately, we had made some good progress on some of the digital capabilities that we were building, and we were able to take advantage of those capabilities to deliver a payment deferral function for the company faster than we had delivered that type of function in the past,” said Richards. “It became clear to us that the investment we were making in our digital core was important for the way we wanted to operate as a company moving forward. It was an early example of the potential, and I think it also helped in motivating and inspiring a lot of our folks to set the company up for future success delivering products that would benefit homeowners and renters.”

Richards is still having fun in his post as CIO and sees vast opportunities to continue to innovate, learning new skills along the way.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

702: In our conversation, we spoke about the future of work. Chandra discusses how the landscape is evolving as we come out of the pandemic and how companies are thinking about balancing in-person collaboration and workplace flexibility. She provides advice on how managers can be intentional about bringing employees back to the office and leverage data-driven insights to make the right decisions for their companies. Finally, Chandra reflects on her journey from CIO to CEO and why she believes the CIO role is a great training ground for future CEOs.

Also available on YouTube:

661: In this interview, we feature a conversation from our most recent Metis Strategy Digital Symposium on the topic of how data and digital capabilities are shaping the future of work with Vince Campisi, the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Services and Chief Digital Officer of Raytheon Technologies, and Edward Wagoner, the Chief Information Officer of JLL. The conversation was moderated by Metis Strategy’s Co-Head of Research, Media, and Executive Networks Steven Norton. Edward discusses the evolution of hybrid working environments, the future of technology’s role as a whole in how employees work and live, and how CIOs can take full advantage of facilities using technology. Vince gives his perspective on Raytheon’s return-to-site strategy and bridging the physical and digital through the use of digital twins. Finally, both executives talk about the importance of sustainability and what the path forward looks like at their respective companies.

Also available on YouTube:

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

619: Mike, Diane, and Vijay of Johnson Controls discuss how the three executive roles fit together and how digital and technological innovation are shaping the 136-year-old company. Each explains their purview within their respective roles and how these roles share governance and collaborate with one another. Vijay expands on how his team was built by centralizing various disparate capabilities across the company as a means to create value and discusses the learnings from Johnson Control’s Open Blue platform. Mike shares the strategic nature of technology at Johnson Controls and what the future of work looks like coming out of the pandemic. Diane then talks about enabling the employee experience at the company and expands on the company’s view of the hybrid work strategy. Finally, the executives provide a look ahead at future opportunities to leverage technology and digital at the company.

Also available on YouTube:

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This episode is sponsored by Transmit Security and Zoho.

       

543: Sandeep Dave, the chief digital and technology officer of CBRE, knows a thing of two about digital transformations and innovation at large companies. In this interview, we discuss the five elements of CBRE digital transformation, why the future workforce is likely to be distributed, and why innovation labs that sit far from core operations do nothing to transform the core business. We also discuss the approach that CBRE uses to innovate, how CBRE leverages AI/ML, the power of bringing emerging technologies together to solve real-world problems, among a variety of other topics.

Watch the video on YouTube

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This episode is sponsored by Zoho and Apptio.

 

 

406: CBRE CDO/CTO Chandra Dhandapani breaks down the process of digital transformation through her experience of modernizing technology and rapidly creating agile teams at CBRE. She explains that technology is at the core of any business model, making it crucial to insource the talent necessary for software development and understand the ecosystem of technology trends. Dhandapani describes how building collaboration between product designers and clients yields entrepreneurial services, such as the new flexible spaces and tenant experience lines at CBRE. We also discuss a powerful WhatsApp group for women leaders in technology, the difference between digital and technology, the value of efficient leadership teams, and various other topics.

Among other topics, Brian and Dan discuss the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • The journey undertaken by both Brian and Dan to uncover and accurately portray the stories of nine innovative leaders in the CIO universe
  • The imperative, as echoed in the stories of each of the nine CIOs, to look past the idea of “aligning IT with the business,” instead beginning to view IT itself as the business
  • Brian and Dan’s take on shared characteristics of the nine CIOs profiled in the book and how they contribute to their success, including but not limited to the ability of the CIO to answer the call, be a transformational leader, and look “beyond the curve” to create an IT organization that drives revenue
  • The evolution of the role of the successful CIO to source talent with an assortment of core competencies—the majority of which are surprisingly non-technical
  • The tenacity of the nine CIOs profiled in the book to forge their way onto the corporate boards or teams of their organizations, landing themselves in positions where they are looked at as another business driver and not simply an IT representative
  • Eye on Trends: The shifting background of the successful CIO to be more of a “hybrid” between business executive and technologist, the emerging importance of the “networked CIO” in successfully leading the business and IT through challenges

Biography of Brian Watson and Dan Roberts: Brian and Dan are the co-authors of Confessions of a Successful CIO: How the Best CIOs Tackle Their Toughest Business Challenges, one of the latest releases in the Wiley CIO Series. With the book, Watson and Roberts bring forward a variety of stories of innovative CIOs, challenges they faced, and their pragmatic and successful responses, a topic we cover in some depth in this interview. Brian Watson is the former Editor in Chief of CIO Insight and has contributed reporting and analysis to several media outlets focused on IT leadership. Since October, Brian has been Executive Director, iRise Advisor Network & Executive Roundtable Series at iRise.  Prior to that, Brian served as Director of Business Outreach for Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS), a charitable organization that helps companies build strong talent pipelines through unique work-study programs. Brian holds a Bachelor of Arts from Bucknell University and a Master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Dan Roberts is a 30-year veteran of the IT industry and the CEO and President of Ouellette & Associates Consulting, Inc., a leading provider of IT leadership and professional development training services focused on the “human side of technology”. Dan is a contributing author of O&A’s latest book titled Unleashing the Power of IT (Wiley, 2011) and has published numerous articles in industry journals. Dan graduated from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

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