Opportunity knocks at the door of every innovative, forward-thinking leader when crisis strikes. Tenacious leaders will shine when faced with difficult circumstances. It has been over two weeks for many communities around the country and the world where “business as usual” has been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
High-echelon CIOs and technology executives are proving their leadership resolve, working around the clock to steer their organizations into the skid, providing the perspective and direction for their teams to reimagine and reinvent everything from supply chain operations to the customer experience.
In order to stay connected in the ever-changing environment of the “stay-at-home” workforce, HMG Strategy hosted the HMG Live! Dallas CIO Summit Virtual Meeting on April 2. This second installment of the CIO Summit Virtual Meeting program featured a variety of technology rock stars, sharing how they have settled into the crisis, and what they have learned in a few short weeks about managing their highly distributed teams from home.
The HMG Live! audience heard from Nellson Burns, VP IT & CIO, Daltile-Mohawk Industries; Chris Gates, CTO, Allstate; Rusty Kennington, CIO, Corsicana Mattress Company and Neelu Sethi, SVP & CIO, Reddy Ice.
What Matters Today and Tomorrow
To foster a winning culture through this crisis, tech leaders are empowering their teams to be agile for the sake of their colleagues, their customers, their communities and the industry.
“How we prepare ourselves for the next 90 days in this crisis is critical,” Sethi said. “During this crisis, I've learned how to keep the team going and listened to what was happening, including how this has impacted our families.”
Opening up a dialogue about feelings enabled the Reddy Ice team to help each other and collaborate productively, said Sethi. Leadership has practiced decisiveness and become a foundation of positivity, keeping innovation strong and swift.
“All of this transformation is happening at a pace we never could have imagined or prepared for.” Sethi said, “More than ever: leadership matters.”
Gates agreed confidence and hard work will rub off on the Allstate team, noting that these few weeks he has been looking for ways to be aspirational. Helping his team drive innovation and inspiration is the key to delivering relevant services in a pandemic.
Gates recognizes that his organization operates in a changing industry.
“Consumers right now are not looking to insure an asset, like a car,” he said. “They are looking to insure an experience like an Uber ride.”
Suddenly, Allstate’s C-suite is looking ahead to a future of insuring social media presence, Internet of Things (IoT) identities, rideshare services and more, and the challenge of a global crisis only puts more pressure to reinvent rapidly.
Touching on this urgency, Burns said he views the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic as a chance for Daltile-Mohawk Industries to push the envelope.
“I like change, and I like a fast pace,” Burns said. “It’s a constant challenge.”
Viewing the challenge as a blessing, Burns said these past few weeks have been “a great opportunity for us to increase adoption of our mobile tools,” for example.
Pursuing all operations digitally and remotely has tested the limits of Daltile’s IT team, but Burns said they have played an essential role in moving the company forward through these unprecedented times.
Kennington credits Corsicana Mattress Company CEO Michael Thompson for enabling the speed and efficiency with which his team has addressed the crisis. The company has since shifted to a direct-to-consumer model, shipping to customers’ homes and is not afraid to open up their team to new employees that may strengthen the core.
“It’s our job and opportunity right now to bring in capable people, and let them run, especially with our next generation of talent – interns.” Kennington said. “We have an opportunity to create powerful intern experiences, even if they are virtual. It’s taking a chance, but we all got an opportunity because somebody once took a chance on us.”
Averse to allowing the business to slow, Kennington stressed his intentions to “skate to where the puck will be” once the economy bounces back.
Listen to more of the incisive strategies and cutting-edge leadership tactics these rock stars shared by watching the archived recording of the HMG Live! Dallas CIO Summit Virtual Meeting on HMG Strategy’s YouTube channel.