What We Learned During the HITEC Leadership Conference

By – Paula Euse

On April 21 and 22, our CIO, Charles Grau, was invited to speak and attend HITEC’s Americas IT Summit and HITEC 50 Luncheon. HITEC (Hispanic IT Executive Council) is a premier global executive leadership organization of senior business and IT executives who have built outstanding careers in information technology throughout the Americas.

UDT CIO Charles Grau @ 2016 Americas IT Summit & HITEC 50 Luncheon UDT CIO Charles Grau @ 2016 Americas IT Summit & HITEC 50 Luncheon

The IT Summit and Luncheon gathered more than 100 technology executives, including guest speakers such as Therace Risch, CIO for JCPenney; Guillermo Ardon, Group CIO for Supply Chain and VP of Johnson & Johnson; and Monica McManus, VP of IT Services and CIO for Enterprise Operations and Lockheed Martin International and many more. The event focused on topics that define us as professionals, define our achievements and our impact on the industry.

These were the most important messages from the conference:

  1. Make Time For Mentoring

For C-level executives that have already achieved a great career, it’s important to focus on rising stars and offer them mentoring. Theresa Risch, CIO for JCPenney encouraged upcoming leaders to “take the job that no one else wants to do. Those are experiences that will groom you.” She emphasized the need for mentors that will complement you, value your opinion, and encourage you to challenge yourself.

  1. Work With Millennials

Being from the digital age, Millennials’ minds move faster and therefore expect everything to happen faster. It’s important to show our new generation a clear path to success, and the steps necessary to get there. Millennials are interested in transparency and don’t really care about hierarchies and titles. They will respect a great leader, not because of their title, but because they admire them as professionals.

Millennials are full of energy and want to learn. While there is always something to be said about experience and years worked, our digital generation has the power to innovate and together we can achieve greater success. Nina Lualdi, Senior Director, LATAM Innovation at Cisco Systems advised, “The best innovation happens when you put multiple disciplines together to work together, creating value and in turn, creating a better world.”

  1. Set Yourself Up For Success

Guillermo Ardon, Group CIO for Supply Chain and VP of Johnson & Johnson, stated, “When you start climbing up, it’s all about people. It’s about your team – what they accomplish is your accomplishment.” His advice was to surround yourself with people that know more than you, to pick something that you are passionate about, and make it a point to recognize those who make a difference.

To succeed, it’s important to have a multi-dimensional mind, so don’t stick to one function or role. Move around as much as possible and learn to handle different challenges. The more varied experience you have, the better you will be able to drive innovation and lead. A key factor in developing this multi-dimensional thinking is to invest in education and never stop learning.

“It’s about our people, you can’t succeed without them, understand them, their values, mentor them, professionally and personally, challenge your team to grow.”

Charles Grau, CIO, United Data Technologies

  1. Learn From Mistakes

Failure isn’t fatal. Having a good mentor will help you avoid mistakes by learning from their experiences. Making mistakes makes you humble and should be a way for you to move on to the next phase of your career. It’s important to speak to professionals at different levels early in your career in order to learn about different perspectives and ways to approach challenges. Monica McManus, VP of IT Services and CIO for Enterprise Operations and Lockheed Martin International encouraged, “Don’t pay attention to people who say you can’t, if you want something, go for it!”

  1. Focus On The Business Experience

Your entire company owns the business experience – meaning not just the end result, but everything you offer a customer from the beginning of your relationship. Leadership teams must agree on this experience and work to connect the dots. Often, a customer’s relationship with your business is too complex. Stories help to give it form. Generation Z’s expectations are off the charts. Because they have a lot more choices in the digital age, advertising isn’t the most important point of contact. They are ready to spend more on your products and services than ever before, but you have to deliver a full customer experience that they are willing to buy in to.