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Aaron Gerlitz, Senior IT Project Manager with Lowe’s
IT Visionaries producer Aaron Gerlitz joins the podcast to discuss the most interesting lessons he’s learned from the first 40 episodes of IT Visionaries.
“Even if this tech doesn’t apply to your job today, it’s probably going to apply to your job and your life tomorrow.” —@AKGerlitz
Aaron Gerlitz (T: @AKGerlitz) has an extensive background in IT, first with the United States military and currently as a senior IT project manager with Lowe’s. And, as a producer of IT Visionaries, he is flush with insights into what is going on in the world of technology.
In this special episode, Aaron joins his old pal Ian (@ianfaison ) to discuss some of the common topics that have come up in the first 40 episodes of the podcast and what they tell us about the world of IT as a whole. Plus, they look into the future and share what they’re excited to talk about in upcoming episodes.
Introducing Aaron — (1:15)
- Aaron’s IT background comes from experience in the U.S. Army and with Lowe’s.
- Was a signal officer in the Army, which is essentially the same thing as an IT manager in a business setting.
- Also worked as a tactical communications manager, help desk manager in Iraq, network operations manager in Iraq, and the space battalion in Colorado working with satellites.
- Transitioned into the civilian world as an IT project manager and doing software development projects at Lowe’s.
- Currently lives in Charlotte, N.C., where he started in the identity and access management space and transitioned over to payment solution work, token solution, security and encryption, and SaaS/cloud-based solutions.
- Aaron and Ian were basic training roommates at West Point.
Takeaway No. 1: The relationship between business and technology executives — (6:15)
- Many of the CIOs and CTOs have talked about what it means to build trust and a good relationship with the other departments and executives in their business. Whether they spend the day shadowing a salesperson or the operations department, tech leaders are consistently saying how important it is to be completely aligned.
- “The technology leaders kept emphasizing how important it was to build trust and be transparent with business executives so that the first time there is a major incident or problem, you’re not trying to build that relationship fresh.” – Aaron
- “In this day and age, the CIOs who have been successful have talked candidly about what has made them successful in their career, and that has been understanding the customer needs and understanding the things the business side is trying to achieve and then working to achieve that together.” – Ian
Takeaway No. 2: The way IT plays a role in every aspect of business — (9:07)
- The CIOs and CTOs who come onto the show detail the enormous responsibilities they have every day to massive companies such as UPS and Palantir. From the outside looking in, you wouldn’t expect the IT leaders to be as involved with so many aspects of day-to-day business.
- Across the IT community are common problems that each IT leader is dealing with — from business CIOs to the CIOs of universities or major cities, each has a set of problems that are wide-ranging and affect just about every part of their business, university or city.
Takeaway No. 3: Working with legacy technology — (12:45)
- When Aaron was in the military and working with the satellite and space technology he was struck by how technically-advanced the projects he was working on were, yet they were dealing with 30-year old infrastructure and programs that didn’t match up.
- This is a common problem that Aaron noticed throughout the interviews.
- “We interviewed people that are working on quantum computing, putting chips on your chest that is the equivalent of an EKG, people working in some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world … and yet the IT organization and infrastructure that supports those efforts is sometimes 30 years old.” – Ian
- “Sometimes organizations think they are unique, but a lot of these problems are similar across all different industries and sizes of organizations. The way to solve those problems is to listen well, partner with your team and have great organization.” – Aaron
- In the lightning round, so many leaders choose a basic organization app as their favorite or most-used. This is an insight into how IT leaders are going about solving problems, and it’s all about keeping it simple.
Takeaway No. 4: The incredible innovation across the board — (17:25)
- IT leaders are committed to continuing their learning and engaging with what’s new, which will help them avoid becoming those legacy systems that hold companies back.
- “Even if this tech doesn’t apply to your job today, it’s probably going to apply to your job and your life tomorrow.” – Aaron
- “The curation of what’s going on around you is more important than ever. …It’s so important to know what your peers and your mentors are up to.” – Ian
Bonus Takeaway: How difficult it is to find good talent — (19:45)
- The war on talent is not going away, but there is an opportunity for citizen development to help with the problem.
- “The war on talent isn’t going away and it’s not going to get easier any time soon. Why not use the talent you have and just enable them through items like citizen development and low code?” – Aaron
- “There’s a percentage of your population that’s really talented that technologically doesn’t know exactly what to do, but creatively they do know what to do. They just need to be able to tap into the creativity a little bit.” – Ian
What Aaron is excited about for future episodes — (22:20)
- Talking to leaders from industries that have been around forever — like UPS — and talking with them about the ways they are innovating.
- “That kind of work is fascinating to me because it’s the behind the scenes work being done to make our lives better. It’s seamless to us when we’re ordering from Amazon, but you don’t know everything that’s going on to get something to you that quickly.” – Aaron