Thinking like battle-tested CIOs
Technology management for non-tech leaders and executives

The following blog comes from our very own veteran CIO leader, Ed Escobedo.

A decade ago, I spent a few years out of technology and worked within the business.  It was a very interesting chapter in my career, and I learned a lot.  I worked for the Chief Revenue Office, for a large global educational institution here in Arizona.  My boss, Barry, was one of the wisest and most thoughtful leaders I have worked for.

Here are some of the lessons I took away from this time in my career.

1. Diagnose the patient before jumping to conclusions.

When I moved into this business role, the very first thing Barry asked me to do was to “follow the order”. It was a diagnostic of how his sales team took in orders from B2B clients and setup operating agreements internally to track and manage revenue.

I spent the first 90 days in this new role interviewing our internal team and listening in to prospect calls, documenting the process and highlighting what worked and what needed to be tweaked to smooth the flow of how this division generated revenue.  It was interesting to see how tools like Salesforce were customized from the perspective of a sales team versus a technology solutions function.

Running this “diagnostic process” is a standard method for me to employ anytime I have a new client engagement or when I take on the leadership of a new team.  While there are many diagnostic methods, the one I use most often is the SWOT method.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. 

And like I did during my business role, I will spend a couple months not jumping to any conclusions on an action plan but will listen carefully as I take notes from interviews across as many internal and external stakeholders as possible getting a picture of what is working and what needs to change.

2. It’s not about you, it’s about your team.

The second thing I learned from Barry is that he always bragged about the success of his team and direct reports, instead of boasting about his own accomplishments.

Every time he was in a public forum with key stakeholders and influencers, he would make a point to integrate into his message the great work his team was doing in moving the agenda of the business forward. 

Not only did this generate a great sense of pride for those of us who worked for him, but it created a sense of loyalty that I have never seen in my many years as a leader.

3. IT is not the center of the support universe.

With the various roles I had supporting the business, I knew this intuitively, but during those years I worked on the revenue generation side of the house, we never once had reason to contact IT for help. That is the beauty of SaaS tools like Salesforce, they are completely end user customizable, and there was no reason to contact our local IT resource for help.  We managed the process – end to end – completely from within the business.

In closing

Let me just say again that I have worked for some great leaders over the course of my career.  Barry was one of the best.  It was not for his technical chops but for how he always listened and showed an interest in the success of his team. 

Also, while it wasn’t expected, working within the business was a real eye-opening chapter in my career.  It rounded out my skills with a deeper understanding of leadership and how IT is perceived.

What about you? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned from a great leader? Have you been in a similar situation – an IT expert on the other side? What did you learn while working within the business?

To reach Ed, find him here: https://tagcxo.com/about/ed-escobedo/

About TAG CXO:

Based in Phoenix, Arizona, TAG CXO is a privately held company, providing Interim and Fractional IT leadership executives, founded in 2019. The company maintains a bench of industry-trained, enterprise-level executives, available on-demand to mid-market CEOs. TAG CXO executives help to round-out a firm’s leadership team and close the IT talent gap with fully qualified expertise, offering a more affordable, lower-risk option than hiring full-time staff. Learn more at: https://tagcxo.com/.

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