Who’s Answering the Next Big Question? IT Leaders Anne Marie Richard & James Dudek

Community Blog
Written by Drew Lazzara

APRIL 1, 2021

During each episode of the Next Big Question podcast, we speak with executives and thought leaders about a big, timely business question. In this episode, Liz Ramey and I spoke with Anne Marie Richard and James Dudek of the University of California, Berkeley. Anne Marie is the associate CIO and director of student-affairs IT, while James serves as senior organizational strategist. We asked them: How can leaders build people-centered organizations?

Both executives took less-than-traditional routes to IT leadership. Anne Marie began her career in international human rights; she also worked as a consultant for non-profits and public agencies before a pivot to IT ten years ago. James began his career in academic advising before becoming more involved with educational policy and systems analysis. Their careers intertwined when they spearheaded the consolidation of disparate IT groups across the Berkeley system. James and Anne Marie approached this huge organizational change from a people-first perspective – they viewed excellence and outcomes as a product of culture, shared values and sensitivity to the humanity of their teams.

Here, James and Anne Marie discuss the vision at the foundation of their success and some of the early wins on the journey.

When you care about other people, it’s kind of an ROI of organizational love. If you treat people well, if you respect them, if you trust them, they are going to pay you back in kind.” -- James Dudek


Anne Marie Richard: 

“One of the things I would hearken back to was the vision from a CIO at the time, which was that the management team is responsible for – and I love this phrase – the ‘care and feeding’ of the organization. You’ll notice, this was coming from the associate chief information officer, but it wasn’t starting with the technology; it wasn’t starting with systems and applications and tools. It was starting with this notion of the care and feeding of the organization. 

I bring that up because where we were starting was a group of human beings that were co-workers and skilled, competent IT professionals. And we needed to create an organization that would set up all these individuals, and their managers, and their teams and workgroups for success… The idea was, how do we build a strong organization where people are highly engaged employees, they feel respected and good about where they work and supported in their efforts, and have opportunities for the growth and learnings that come with the job? And also, let’s have some fun.”

James Dudek: 

“One of the things we did early on was have a celebration of the fact that we are admitting students to the university. The programmers responsible for the system that notifies applicants that they are accepted would just turn that system on and go home on the day people were notified. And we were like, ‘Don’t you know that this is the day that people find out they’re getting into college? This is the day that dreams come true!’ 

There is a website called College Confidential where students gossip with each other if they got into the college of their choice, and we had champagne and put that website on a projector. And as students learned they got into Berkeley, they started posting, ‘Oh my god, this is the greatest day!’ And the programmers were just completely overwhelmed. They had never seen the efficacy of their work. And it was so moving, I was almost in tears. This is the work you’ve been doing, but no one ever said that to you… We’re in the business of making dreams come true, and I think that’s true even for IT people.”

Listen to the full episode of The Next Big Question featuring Anne Marie and James from Evanta, a Gartner Company here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app

To find a local community of your CIO peers, visit evanta.com/cio.


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Drew Lazzara

Sr Content Manager at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CIOs, for CIOs

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