May 21, 2014, 8:20 PM —
I had the incredible pleasure of speaking with AARP CIO Terry Bradwell. From a CIO’s perspective, he is living the dream and, in my eyes, is a role model for all IT professionals, from the newest intern to the most experienced CIO. This is what he said and how it can help you in your career.
I met Terry at the AARP conference in Boston where he introduced AARP TEK (the TEK stands for Technology, Education and Knowledge). TEK is a major AARP initiative to help educate the 50+ audience about computer technology. This major AARP undertaking was conceived and is now being led by Terry, their CIO.
I asked him how he came up with the idea for TEK so I could provide an example to my readers, of all IT professional levels, how an IT conceived idea can truly be embraced by the organization it serves. He said that “AARP is in the business of doing good and as the CIO I thought to myself about how IT could help.” He went on to explain that, by its nature, IT is connected to the entire organization and that, generally speaking, IT people are “wired to integrate”. During our discussion it became very clear to me that it was Terry’s combination of his:
• belief in his company’s mission (improving the lives of all as they age),
• desire for IT to maximize its value to the organization,
• understanding of internal organizational workings,
• and the willingness and ability to internally market his ideas to company leadership . . .
. . . that made AARP TEK a reality.
He went on to say that IT should be run like a start-up business and must grow, adapt and change to maximize its value to its internal customers. He said that reliable infrastructure and production must be a given, but everyone working within IT must also look beyond that and ask themselves what else can and should be done.