An Amazing Evening at AITP Atlanta’s 13th Annual CIO Roundtable!

AITP Atlanta’s CIO Roundtable is our marquee event and one that our members and guests look forward to each year and for good reason. Joe Gross, President of CIO Partners, a technology executive retained search firm, works with some of the country’s top IT leaders. Joe not only was an amazing moderator, but his experience enabled to add his own unique perspective and depth of knowledge on industry issues. What added to this stand out event was the diversity of industries represented. Our panel was comprised of CIO’s from large and mid-sized enterprise organizations, in industries including lending, utility, design and high technology were represented. With the diversity on the panel, you’d think there would be widely varying responses, but as it turns out, the advice and issues were very similar.

The following are just a few questions and take-aways from the evening’s discussion:


JOE GROSS (Moderator): How does your organization attract, and more importantly retain talent?

SALLIE GRAVES: Atlanta is one of the toughest market’s for recruitment and retention. One of the things MagMutual does is to understand the culture of your company and how people are going to appreciate that and being able to share that and look for people who have that fit.

JAKE ELSON:  One of the things that the millennial workforce demands is workplace flexibility and the ability to work in a mobile nature. One of the things we did is to develop a platform or foundation where they work any where on any device, any time. Over the last 18 months, they’ve focused on implementing a variety of collaboration tools to enable “work for anywhere” a lot easier.


JOE: What’s important in your leadership style, and what are you looking for in new leaders coming into your organization?

ALAN SIBLEY: Leadership is being able to jump in there, and get things done. If you can’t get things done, you can’t gain others respect and lead them. The hardest thing in IT, is explaining IT to the Board. First thing in leadership is being able to manage yourself. If you can’t manage yourself, you can’t lead other people. You need to set the example yourself.

ROY STUBBS: Recognizing that a CIO’s value to the organization isn’t how well I put out fires, but how do I prevent them from happening. I coach leaders and managers, especially those who came up through engineering and development, that while before you were fighting those fires, I’m now going to compensate you on how well you prevent those fires. That is a key learning point.


JOE: When it comes to all those new technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Data Lakes, Data Streams, etc.) how do you prioritize these things when your CEO or the business asks you about them?

ROY STUBBS: If we’re going to do that, is this going to help us make money, or lose money. You still must have an objective way to evaluate those priorities. Is this going

GREG BUCKLAND: We try to set up time and budget to explore. We leave budget for exploration, where we see opportunity, they do a quarterly build-a-thon, that opens a lot of opportunities as the team can use any technology, they want to solve problems. Through that they’ve come up with real business solutions to issues that exist today.

SALLIE GRAVES: Puts together a 3-year strategic plan – what is going to drive the business forward, and how are those technologies going to support the strategic plan. Being able to use this to support innovation is key.

JAKE ELSON: Making sure that every IT initiative supports the strategic plan. There are many in IT that aren’t sure that what they are doing ties to what the business is doing. When you align those projects with the strategic plan, those team members can see how their work is making a positive contribution to the organization.


JOE: Security is a major issue everywhere. What are you doing to assure your leaders / board of directors, that you are doing enough:

GREG BUCKLAND: I work for a Dutch company, so European laws are different that US – GDPR is big for example. We approach this by getting external audits – we’ve found it’s the best way to prove to our clients and executive group that our security is sound and that we’re doing everything we can do. This 3rd party audit is the best way we’ve found to prove that we’re in a controlled and secured state.

SALLIE GRAVES: We provide services back to their policy holders to help coach them and provide education so they understand how they can protect themselves and share what we are doing as a company to keep things secured. We maintain a very close relationship with our Board of Directors and Audit committee, so they are fully informed on all actions my group is taking to protect the organization.

There was an amazing amount of quality information exchanged – too much to cover in an already lengthy LinkedIn post. In order to get the full impact of these meetings, please consider becoming a member! The knowledge sharing and comradery just cannot be beat!

Thanks again to our panel and moderator for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their stories and educate our members and guests. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our event sponsors, Corus360 (Platinum Sponsor), Varonis (Event Sponsor) and NetApp (Event Sponsor), without whom these events would not be possible!