Nick Roethel is one of the many high-caliber IT Executives who facilitated at NCS Madison’s 2019 San Francisco CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting on November 19, 2019. He is the Director of Technology Services/Technology Principal, Chief Information Officer at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Nick lead our CIO Leadership and Influence discussion group in San Francisco. Continue reading for a preview of what Nick covered during his group discussion.


What leadership capabilities does the CIO need to develop to lead organizational transformation?

In order to lead any type of change, including organizational transformation, leaders must possess emotional intelligence, the ability to think strategically and be a risk taker. Emotional intelligence allows us to understand ourselves well enough, and our impact on others, to foster strong relationships with our partners, employees and stakeholders. Being able to extract ourselves from the details and focus on the vision reduces mission creep; while risk taking allows our goals to be bold and without distraction of what we think we can’t do.

As a CIO how do you use influence to lead your organization’s IT Transformation?

Building relationships and alliances while being able to tell a compelling story has served me well. A strong story detailing a future outcome that’s best for the business allows stakeholders to understand what could be. While having credibility builds confidence in your ability to deliver. In addition, selecting “quick-wins” on the front end of transformations builds early faith and following. As issues come up and doubters emerge, it has been important to stay steadfast to the story and remind those involved of what the outcome will look like.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges CIOs face when facilitating business and technology changes within their organization?

The curse and presumed simplicity of doing things they way they’ve always been done is the biggest challenge we face. Change is hard – and the no is much easier to say than yes. Influencing all stakeholders that a move into the modern is the right direction is very difficult, especially when risk is involved.

What do you believe are the most important skill sets today’s CIOs can develop and master?

CIOs need to focus on their leadership skills. At the CIO level, our jobs should generally consist of mentoring teams for succession, setting a strong strategy with an accompanying story and vision, and removing barriers. These core competencies require a mix of skills including true, deep listening, empowerment of employees allowing failure and learning from mistakes; and organizational design and dynamics. Understanding what makes our folks tick, and how they’re motivated will lead to healthy discussion and educated resource allocation. It’s not just about assigning people to the work, it’s about putting the right people in the right places – every time.

Register for one of our 2020 Strategy Meetings now to participate in thought-provoking discussion groups such as this one.