Governing Body Spotlight
Co-Chair of the San Francisco CIO Community
As Autodesk's CIO, I lead the company's global information and technology organization, a group that manages critical technology systems supporting the company's worldwide enterprise applications and infrastructure, including enterprise security operations, vendor management, workforce collaboration, and productivity services. I’m passionate about automation, start-ups and disruptive technologies. Consider myself a visionary IT executive and strategist with focus on expanding IT capabilities, emerging technologies, and maximizing impact of IT investments. I hold a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Oklahoma State University, and a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication from the University of Madras.
Learn more about the San Francisco CIO community here.
Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.
I've had the opportunity to work in many areas at Autodesk, including quality assurance, application release management, operations, infrastructure, and enterprise security. I've also led teams working on end user collaboration and end user desktop and support. As a change agent, my goal is always to modernize and transform the teams I lead and serve. With each opportunity, I've learned about the depth and breadth of the IT department. Now as CIO, I'm fortunate to oversee the entire IT department, where I can use my diverse background at Autodesk to understand the role and responsibility of every IT team. One of my key responsibilities as CIO is to digitally transform Autodesk, and work with our partners to deliver more value to our customers, partners, and employees.
What is one of your guiding leadership principles?
I maintain a continuous dialogue with my employees and encourage lofty career aspirations by providing cross-divisional opportunities at Autodesk. This allows them to build their experience and portfolio, as well as prepare them for greater responsibilities, and up-level people once they are qualified to take on higher positions. We prioritize staff training, aiming to fill any knowledge gaps so people are ready for the new opportunities when the time is right.
With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CIO going in the next 1-2 years?
Autodesk is on a high-growth trajectory and has a corporate goal to digitize the entire organization, which means enhancing the customer and employee experience by removing friction for our employees, customers, and partners. To do this, we are exploring and leveraging automation and artificial intelligence for both internal and external processes. For example, we are stepping away from data centers, moving all workloads and back office applications to the public cloud. This enables us to increase our resiliency, availability, and enterprise security as we move into the automation era.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CIO?
My advice for CIOs starting in this role is to have a "learn-it-all" rather than a "know-it-all" mindset, especially given the fast pace of business and the rate at which technology is evolving. Also, be courageous and move out of your lane. Partner boldly across different parts of the company to drive value-based business outcomes.
Typically, CIOs are only responsible for keeping the lights on and trying to reduce costs. That remains critical, but the role is evolving to include a "value" mindset. I host an annual CIO Exchange for Autodesk customer CIOs who are all on their own digital transformation journeys to improve customer and employee experiences. The CIO role at Autodesk is one of "technology adviser." I'm building partnerships across business divisions to enable maximum productivity and successful technology use in everything they do.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
- Most people don't know that I only sleep three to four hours per night, even on weekends.
- In my spare time, I like to…Hike, catch up on sci-fi movies and travel. I also enjoy spending quality time with my daughter and wife.
- My pet peeve is anything repetitive that doesn't require human judgement. Bots have become a big part of what we do at Autodesk today. I want to continue to work on developing a digital workforce that utilizes automation to make daily repetitive processes less noticeable for employees.
What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?
It's important to surround yourself with people and communities like Evanta where you can learn from others so you can continually grow and avoid stagnation. One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received (and still applies today) is to always get out of your comfort zone. I've learned that you never want to be the smartest person at the table, and if you are, you should move tables.
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