Quick Q & A

October 31, 2014

  1. In your opening remarks at the UC Computing Services Conference this summer, you said that “the most profound changes are the ones that combine inspired leadership with grassroots movements.” Can you explain more what you mean by that and what kind of “grassroots” movement you’d like to see within IT at UC?

    I've been fortunate to be part of several organizational efforts with business and culture transformational components. I've learned that the impetus and urgency for change come from the top.  You see that inspired leadership in our president.  However, memos from the top do not create change. Change requires the whole organization to move in a new direction. When an industry is facing tremendous challenge or pressure, change also requires a shifting in the way people "think."  

    I believe that we are in one of those periods in higher education and at the University of California. Look at the challenges of reduced state funding, the public’s perception of unaffordable college costs, and the way technology, which is now all pervasive, is changing the way we live and learn. Many call this an inflection point.

    This then is a great time to ask questions about what we do and why we do it that way. As technologists, we have a great opportunity to redefine our role to be more central to the strategic and operational aspects of the institution. This requires our IT community of 7000 professionals to create a groundswell movement of dialog and activity amongst ourselves as well as with our clients.  This is the opportunity for every member of IT at UCOP, the UC campuses, and the UC medical centers.  A mobilization of this capacity will fundamentally change UC if we accept the challenge and engage.

  2. Strategically, where would you like ITS to be positioned in 2-4 years?

    Since coming to the University of California, I have talked a lot about the value that an IT organization creates. In my experience, IT teams can get too focused on operational topics, when many of their customers now view those services as basic utilities – akin to flipping the light switch. We know it is much more complex than that. But people today just expect the IT organization “to make it work” and to do so in a cost-effective manner.

    An IT leader therefore has to position the organization differently: First, making sure the chief executive knows that IT understands the organization’s top priorities. Second, demonstrating exactly how IT contributes to those priorities. And third, showing that IT manages its own shop well, meaning that we reduce the costs to run basic operations and reinvest that energy back into value-creating initiatives.

    I would like to see ITS put more emphasis on contributing to the organization’s priorities and mission, while continuing to find ways to provide IT services more efficiently and cost-effectively. We have the talent, we just need to think a little differently and to focus on supporting our business partners’ strategic future.

  3. With everything moving towards the “cloud,” what are your thoughts on core IT services eventually moving in that direction?

    I have talked to many CIOs over the last 2 months, both inside and outside of higher education and healthcare. CIOs are pushing their organizations to move toward "cloud first" strategies for all aspects of future IT platforms and investments, both to help resolve legacy situations and to create organizational agility.

    With our "Anytime/Anywhere Access" cloud computing services, UCOP has taken a strong step toward a future of "cloud first." Our managers look at cloud options first, and assess where the offerings are in terms of availability and maturity. Not all needs can be met by cloud-based services today, but we all can see that viable cloud options will only increase. So we all need to become "cloud ready." That's why I was an early adopter of Anytime/Anywhere Access.