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Chief Risk Officer and Chief Information Officer
Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Empowering the decisionmaker has to be the focus. Using data to ensure that the full impact of a decision is known and being able to model decisions in multiple scenarios strengthens the decisions that people make. Taking the time-consuming tasks and applying automation has freed up more time to work on the things that matter. Technology facilitates communication and transparency, which also improves decision-making.
What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
When I was directed to crossfoot 28 columns and over a thousand rows of numbers, I knew that I had to get on the computer. Computers are just machines and I have always loved working with machines.
What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
Curiosity, ingenuity, determination, and the ability to take in and analyze data, which includes listening, are all key attributes. Languages, operating systems, and hardware can all be learned. Understanding the business/operational needs and focusing on delivering tools that can and will be used is something that I look for when hiring people. Engaging team members on projects where this is clearly the focus provides examples and lets people make a difference.
How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field?
Truly a wonderful age we live in for technology. There are excellent business journals and blogs where technology is always featured. There are excellent IT journals and science journals where current and future tech is analyzed. Conferences and symposiums, vendor-specific and general, abound. Colleagues and my staff are great sources. People tend to specialize, so talking to the specialists is always rewarding. Finding people with a passion for what they do and are often anxious to go to the next level—listening to them is enlightening.
What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?
Get the fundamentals down and then determine that technology will not be the reason that you cannot solve a problem or succeed. Technology will be a tool to help you make people more productive, your company more successful, and help you solve problems. Listening and being able to understand the other’s point of view will help you give people what they need.