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HomeBusiness IntelligencePrepping for the post-CIO chapter of a storied profession

Prepping for the post-CIO chapter of a storied profession


It appears each week I’m on the telephone with a CIO or different expertise govt who’s both considering, on the verge of, or has just lately gone by the method of retiring. Most battle with it. They’ve been so heads-down doing the work that they’ve did not correctly and deliberately put together themselves for this subsequent chapter. 

On a current episode of the Tech Whisperers podcast, I sat down with two former expertise executives who’ve transitioned to “Chapter 2” of their profession journeys with the identical success and dexterity they demonstrated of their operational roles. Diana McKenzie was CIO at Amgen, Workday’s first CIO, and held quite a few roles at Eli Lilly. Karenann Terrell served as an govt at large manufacturers like Baxter, Walmart, and GSK. At present, they’re each concerned with a spread of govt advisory and board roles, from private and non-private board memberships and personal fairness work, to investing, steady studying, philanthropy, and extra.  

Through the podcast, they shared recommendation on making ready and navigating the method to meet a brand new chapter in skilled and private life. Afterward, we talked about their classes realized as soon as the mud settled. What follows is that dialog, edited for size and readability.

Dan Roberts: I discover that those that thrive within the subsequent chapter of their profession journeys acquire new views by these experiences. In that spirit, should you knew then what you understand now, what would you could have carried out otherwise while you have been within the CxO chair?

Diana McKenzie: I’ve realized a lot on this subsequent chapter. If I needed to name out one factor, I’d’ve struck a greater steadiness of ‘inside-out’ deal with delivering outcomes that mattered to our CEO and the corporate with an elevated ‘outside-in’ appreciation for the best way wherein the corporate’s exterior stakeholders valued these outcomes.

By way of the lens of serving on boards and advising startups, I’ve developed a extra knowledgeable appreciation of, and larger empathy for, the challenges CEOs should navigate with a broad base of exterior stakeholders, together with shareholders and analysts. As an example, I want I listened as intently to know the ‘why’ behind the analysts’ questions as I did our earnings presentation. I’d’ve prioritized time to learn the post-earnings analyst reviews to spherical out my perspective of how our efficiency was being valued. I doubtless would’ve made completely different decisions about how I supported the CEO and guided my workforce.

Digital leaders who successfully steadiness these two views have the potential to play a much more priceless position in delivering the appropriate enterprise outcomes, supporting their CEOs and govt groups, and driving long-term worth for shareholders.

Karenann Terrell: I used to be working very massive duties in very massive corporations, largely multinationals, and I didn’t actually acknowledge or perceive how a lot my productiveness and optimization was essential to the outcomes that have been going to come back from my job. So I wasn’t cautious about surrounding myself with a assist system that lifted and optimized me in a approach that might raise and optimize the opposite elements of the group I ran. I simply moved alongside saying I’m going to optimize myself. Properly, while you get to a chief degree, it’s essential you set issues up so that you’re one of the best for all of the individuals who give you the results you want, and that you simply’re one of the best in main the operate. I can see that extra clearly now, wanting again and thru corporations as advisors or on the board, than I might ever see whereas I used to be on the working aspect of the enterprise. So I’d do this otherwise. I’d arrange my world as a way to make it possible for the whole lot I’m being requested to do is at an optimum degree.

Karenann Terrell stylized

Karenann Terrell

Karenann Terrell

What’s additionally been eye-opening for any individual who values how the ecosystem works is seeing how driving pace and transformation in expertise and innovation comes from corporations which might be extremely motivated by buyers — whether or not they’re large buyers, angel buyers, or bootstrap investments. I used to be blind as to how one can get that ecosystem participant to work with others as a result of I didn’t perceive the every day pressures, the place I might take a look at their boards and say, ‘Oh, they appear to have 4 folks from the identical investor. That’s fascinating.’ Within the pressures to get what I wanted from these corporations whereas I used to be an operator, I had no thought what that really meant. I feel if I had higher identified how the investor world labored, with enterprise capital and privately invested corporations with whom we labored, I’d’ve behaved otherwise.

Karenann, you’ve identified that when the C-level chief finally makes the choice to hold up their operational boots, it isn’t all the time a simple one, and the method itself can really feel difficult. Are you able to discuss why that’s?

Terrell: I feel one of many fears that CIOs have with their resolution to enter retirement is that they’re not going to be totally there. When you say that is my final job, you begin to raise the management of when that occurs and who decides who’s going into the seat. By the very nature of that, you begin to lose your energy.

Individuals really feel they’ve grow to be lame geese, or not part of the method, or the timing doesn’t match theirs. So that they wish to maintain these choices as quiet and hidden as doable, when we’ve no expertise in doing that, since you’ve both been on the similar firm your complete life — uncommon amongst CIOs — otherwise you’ve moved from place to position. No person actually teaches you what to do while you retire.

On the subject of the following part, what if somebody hasn’t constructed the massive model of a Diana McKenzie or a Karenann Terrell? What’s the appropriate pathway for them? 

McKenzie: There are doubtless many paths tech leaders can take in the event that they haven’t benefitted from constructing a branded portfolio as an operator. One path I typically promote is for these leaders to think about non-public fairness and VC advisory as a steppingstone.

If a prime tech chief is contemplating their pivot to a portfolio chapter with public board roles, and is not sure how one can make that occur, they might start by reaching out to the PE/VC group with whom they’ve developed relationships all through their years as an operator. These companies supply numerous alternatives to interact, starting from advising portfolio corporations to advising the PE/VC group on the portfolio degree, or serving within the capability of an working accomplice. Advisory roles can result in a board position with the portfolio firm and a chance to help the management workforce with the method of making ready for an IPO. This in flip provides the power to stick with that firm post-IPO, serving within the capability of a public board director. 

Diana McKenzie stylized

Diana McKenzie

Diana McKenzie

Selecting this path requires creating strong relationships with the VC/PE group whereas in your working position, ideally three to 5 years earlier than your deliberate pivot. This not solely contributes to creating you a better performing tech CxO, nevertheless it additionally paves the trail towards extending your private community with different C-level leaders in tech, which turns into a priceless asset when transitioning to your subsequent chapter.

Terrell: The general public asking this are both on a non-public or public board, and the primary place you begin to perceive what board-level alternatives could be out there may be with your individual board members. There are very straightforward entry factors. You possibly can say, ‘I observed you’re an advisor to KKR or I observed you’re on this board. May I get 20 minutes of your time someday to speak to you about it?’

There’s nothing a board member likes greater than any individual from the administration workforce saying, ‘I observed you’re on that Indian unicorn firm that’s going public in India. I’ve some questions on that entire factor.’ When any individual is aware of what I’m engaged on, I say, ‘Hey, let me inform you what I learn about that. Is there anyone you wish to meet?’ I can’t consider board members who don’t act like that.

And that’s a built-in future community for you. Both you’re on a non-public board with different board members who’re invested in attempting that can assist you out and are on the lookout for good expertise they’ll advocate the following time a board seat opens someplace, or they wish to inform you what they wish to know. It’s about discovering birds-of-a-feather alternatives. That’s how I did it. It’s very onerous to determine it out should you’re not truly leveraging your present relationships. This is likely one of the enormous energy alternatives within the girls’s IT management group, T200.

So I all the time say to folks, ‘Give your assistant slightly challenge: Go map everybody in your board, or everybody who’s been in your board, and what boards they’re on.’ Because it’s all public info, it’s a simple factor to do, and that’s the way you drive your community and your affect.

McKenzie: If I recall current analysis accurately, roughly 60 to 70% of all public board positions are stuffed by private networks. Boards typically look to present board members to determine a slate of potential candidates earlier than partaking an govt search agency. After I’m approached by fellow board members or acquaintances in my community to advocate potential board candidates, I flip again to my community to search out potential connections I could make. As Karenann referenced earlier, this is only one instance of the ability of collaborating in a group like T200.

One of many thriller questions we didn’t get to in the course of the podcast was from Sue-Jean Lin, CIO of Alcon, about current analysis displaying how a digital-savvy board creates enterprise worth. She wonders whether or not digital is driving the efficiency, or is a digital-savvy board extra open to innovation, and subsequently creating extra worth?

Terrell: Peter Weill is one other one doing analysis on this matter, as a result of past digital, it strikes to real-time enterprises. Digitally inclined companies don’t essentially have digitally inclined boards. One doesn’t equal the opposite. A digital board asks questions which might be immediately related to bodily and digital integration. And not using a digitally minded board, you discover these subjects being mentioned in silos versus an built-in a part of the enterprise. That’s why I consider digital natives are massively priceless on boards which might be attempting to make omni-related strikes. In any other case, you simply get separate options. You get an ‘and’ as a substitute of a ‘plus.’

Alongside those self same traces, Deloitte studied company 10Ks and located that corporations that talked about their digital technique, tech bets, and alter technique had a 14% larger market cap than people who solely talked about their digital technique and tech bets with out discussing how they’re going to steer the change. What’s the board perspective on that?

Terrell: It was ‘digital as a differentiator’ in market worth. Now, non-digital goes to be a failure mode for corporations. Entire corporations are going to simply fail and fall out, and what’s being mentioned in boards is that we’ve bought to complete our digital transformation as a result of AI is the frontier round which we’re going to must drive productiveness, product integration, or no matter it’s. And so digital transformation has bought to come back with the subject of change administration and adoption.

McKenzie: In case you’re interviewing for a board seat and also you’re not sensing a discernable ‘tone from the highest’ with respect to how expertise or digital is being embraced as core to the technique, you might have considered trying rethink if that board alternative is for you. To compete efficiently in right this moment’s macroeconomic atmosphere, board members, CEOs, and their govt groups must exhibit a dedication to creating expertise an integral aspect of their technique, together with a willingness to spend money on the working mannequin, incentive system, and expertise modifications required to efficiently pivot. Potential board members could even contemplate making this a filtering issue for all incoming board alternatives when conducting their board search.

Let’s wrap it up with the massive query: How do you handle the good balancing act in Chapter 2, as a result of it looks as if you might simply get sucked again into 80-hour weeks.

Terrell: I fail some weeks.

McKenzie: Me too!

Terrell: As a result of who we’re that made us profitable in our working careers are individuals who put our entire self in. Why would we expect we’re going to all of the sudden grow to be, ‘I’ll simply dabble slightly bit’ folks? The factor about portfolio life, although, is you could have the power to push and pull issues which have far much less permanence and dedication. You’ve got the selection to choose and select, come out and in. Generally the stuff you’re concerned in all get sizzling on the similar time, however you simply plan accordingly.

McKenzie: I’ll admit saying “no” was not my power when working. Submit-pivot, I’ve gotten higher at it, regardless of what my husband would possibly inform you. I discover I generally must say no or “not now” to chill stuff, nevertheless it’s as a result of I’ve sufficient cool stuff already on my plate.

Terrell: Why is it thought that while you go to a post-operating profession, you’re now a sole proprietor? I’ve an assistant and a analysis assistant. I don’t must be on the market all on my own attempting to determine it out. I’m a multi-million-dollar operation, and no multi-million-dollar operation I do know runs with simply the founder.

McKenzie: Serving as a expertise advisor is an effective way to spend money on persevering with schooling. Plus, I’ve been lucky to curate a discrete set of various communities providing priceless persevering with schooling views on topics inclusive of rising applied sciences, enterprise technique, the way forward for work, and company governance ­— all vital to remaining related as a board member and expertise advisor.

For extra pragmatic and actionable recommendation on how one can put together for that subsequent chapter, tune in to the Tech Whisperers.

Careers, CIO, IT Management, Ladies in IT

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