Career Progression, the CIO Role, and Growing Towards It with Paul Green

Welcome to episode 94 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss career progression, the role of CIO, and growing towards it with Paul Green, Chief Development Officer of Angel MedFlight.

Original Recording Date: 09-16-2020

Topics – Career Progression, the CIO Role, and Growing Towards It

02:22 – Tips for the Individual Contributor’s Career Path

  • Ask a lot of questions. Paul is notorious for this. His first boss even asked him to stop asking questions.
    • New employees should ask if they don’t understand. Ask to understand the reasons behind the tasks and how they fit with the company’s goals.
    • Paul used to go to stakeholders and ask why they needed something. Giving people what they ask for is not always the answer. Give them the perfect product for the process they are trying to accomplish.
      • People generally don’t know what they want. We can usually give them something better.
      • Paul talks about how his team looks at processes, outcomes, and solutioning at his company. Asking more questions allows for the delivery of better products.
  • Don’t start off with a goal of wanting to be a supervisor or manager or CIO. Start by working hard, asking questions, and getting out of your comfort zone.
    • Paul shares an interesting story of a mentee who wanted to be a Network specialist but ended up elsewhere.
    • Don’t focus on the outcome. Moving to different roles allow you to figure out what you want to do.
    • Staying at the same company for many years is pretty rare in today’s world and may not come with big pay raises. Normally loyalty and longevity of this nature comes from a love for the work.

09:40 – The CIO’s Role

  • Paul never had aspirations to be CIO. He thought about doing bigger and better things every year.
    • Paul wanted to do cool things in his industry to push what he was doing forward and shares career experiences in hospitality.
    • During this process, he wanted to build the best IT solutions for the business.
    • Paul doesn’t do things for compliments. He does it for the enjoyment and to show that anything is possible.
    • You don’t really know what a CIO does until getting there, but if you’re coming up with ideas to make the business better, you are getting closer to it every day.
    • A CIO today is 50% operations and 50% IT. Now IT is in the forefront of a CEO’s mindset. Quality IT drives business forward.
      • Everything Paul has done in his career was to drive the business forward.
      • Always be thinking about how to build a better process.
      • Think of fellow employees as customers, and give them the best tools to do their job while treating them well.
      • Keep pushing forward to build better processes. Paul shares an example of process improvement through technology from healthcare.
    • A CIO should be just as worried about the operations as the company as the budget in IT and what products IT is delivering.
      • Never buy a product because it has a cool tag line. It is not about new, fancy, shiny.
      • Buy for what fits the goal and direction of the company.
  • Organically move up through an organization without the goal of being CIO someday. On the way you may find something you are way better at than you realized.
    • There is no right path for someone. It is not how you start but how you finish.

21:06 – Ideas for Personal Growth

  • Paul shares the example of a college student with communication skills moving into IT.
  • Paul does not like to silo people. You may not ever know their full capabilities.
  • This is a challenge within large organizations. The way you communicate with others, and your enthusiasm will be noticed.
  • The worst thing one can do is stay in the same job for many years. If you don’t show an enthusiasm to do something else, you won’t ever change.
  • Show your superior you are capable of the job to which you’re applying. Start selling yourself on day 1. Communicate in the right way so that when the next step comes, your superiors have taken notice and will give you the chance to move on.
    • Paul loves it when team members encourage one another. Leaders notice this kind of thing.
    • It is much easier to sell yourself over time than to start when you get into the interview.
    • A good leader is going to notice employees doing the right things.
      • People don’t work for organizations. They work for leaders. Working for a good leader will deliver a good outcome.
      • If a really good leader does not take notice, have a conversation in humility to confirm you’re on the right path.
      • Put yourself in the position to humbly make the boss notice.
      • Find a leader whose "why" you can support and that aligns with your "why," especially if you have aspirations to progress.
      • These types of leaders will take you on a path of growth, even if some day it is not with them.

30:02 – Progressing to CIO

  • Understand what is out there from a product perspective. Read and research, whether things relate to your business or not. You won’t know if something is best for you unless you know what is out there.
  • Paul reads a number of different books on a wide spectrum of topics.
  • You are never finished learning. Paul shares the example of helping a recent college graduate think differently about what’s next.
  • Paul likes to learn how to do something rather than be told about it. Learning how to do something and making mistakes allows deeper learning than just telling.
    • He prefers guiding employees and allowing this same learning process.
  • Learn about business, and understand what is out there. If you are in IT, you are in business. IT drives business processes, and these processes change companies.
    • There’s no amount of information that is enough. If you want to be a really good leader, all of the information you take in will apply in some way.
    • A lot of it will help you out with some of your team members. Talking to people on their level, and being conversant in a variety of topics helps build camaraderie.
    • Ask questions. Be present. Too many of us are not present in the conversation. If you can’t be in the conversation, figure out how to get into the conversation.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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  • Ep94: John White

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