Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Career advice: Setting limits with a boss

Premier 100 IT Leader Stephen Gold also answers questions on job interviews with nontechnical people and making a move into mobile

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Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader

Stephen J. Gold

Title: Executive vice president and CIO

Company: CVS Health

stephen gold

CVS Health CIO Stephen J. Gold

Gold is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader. If you have a question you’d like to pose to one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

My boss fosters a constant crisis mode, with everyone putting in long hours until the latest emergency is behind us. My wife thinks I should set clear limits on my time at work, but all the other guys on the team (we’re all male) just go along with it. I don’t see how I can do otherwise. Any advice? Creating boundaries at work can sometimes get tricky because of the perceived potential implications to your career. Yet with better planning and clear communications, all of these concerns can be addressed. The most impactful thing that can be done is to take a step back, with your team and your leader, and look at what is really going on with the flow of work. Suggest performing a formal study to determine the true root cause for the constant crises. Experience has taught me that many crises can be avoided with improved planning and organizing around the work being done. After all, crisis is really just a risk that has germinated. Getting out ahead of these situations with a good risk management strategy is key to a more normal and predictable workflow. Lastly, once you are on the path to stabilization, you will be in a position to create some reasonable work/life balance processes. Again, suggest meeting with your team and your leader to define these processes and implement them. The net result will be a happier, more productive workforce.

I've been to a few interviews lately where I was just blown away by the interviewers’ complete lack of technical knowledge. It threw me off balance every time. How should I talk to people like that? I’m afraid my responses might as well have been in Mandarin for all they were understanding. Job candidates should always keep in mind, prior to any interview, the possibility of being interviewed by an inexperienced or nontechnical person. Although, you may feel you have wasted their time and effort in preparing for the interview, it is important to remain positive and polite, while at the same time adjusting to the style and interest of the person interviewing you. Candidates need to remember that first impressions stick, and it is the interviewer who has the power to take the candidate to the next stage of the company’s recruitment process. Therefore, the candidate needs to put the interviewer at ease, to understand the interviewer’s perspective and respond to any questions in a way that will be valuable to the interviewer. This is actually great practice for career advancement, since there will be many business leaders that don’t understand the deep technical aspects of an IT leader’s job and we need to speak their language in order to be a more valuable partner.

My company is late to mobile. I see ways that we can leverage it to help the business, and I even think being late can be turned to our advantage. With that in mind, what sorts of things should we be cautious about or avoid doing? The first thing I would avoid doing is rushing in, even though you may be late to the game. Like other business strategies, pursuing mobile successfully involves more than just building an app. First and foremost, make sure that your company has developed a well-thought-out mobile strategy that is aligned with your customers’ needs, overall business goals and growth strategies. Next, focus on delivering a seamless customer experience that enables users to interact with your brand in new and useful ways. Mobile users are used to apps that are engaging and responsive and will very quickly be turned off by buggy software, slow response times, distorted layouts or difficult navigation. Next, make sure your mobile strategy and architecture are scalable. The use of mobile apps is expected to continue to grow at an accelerated pace, so your company’s strategy and architecture must be flexible, to allow and plan for growth, expansion and enhancement. Lastly, don’t assume that the way you have engaged with customers historically will map directly to your mobile strategy. Mobile interactions are much more frequent and much more social. Engage and empower your customers by giving them the tools and information they need for a great experience. Both good and bad experiences are very visible and can go viral very rapidly. Treat your customers the way they want to be treated and they will reward you for it.

The march toward exascale computers
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