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The Grill: Newly minted CIO Tammy Bilitzky focuses on scalability and automation

Mary K. Pratt | Jan. 14, 2014
When Tammy Bilitzky became CIO at New York-based Data Conversion Laboratory last March, it was her first time in a CIO role, and it was DCL's first time filling that post. Bilitzky, who had worked in senior-level technology jobs at other companies, says the move offered her a lot of new opportunities.

You're a Project Management Professional, a Certified ScrumMaster and a Six Sigma Green Belt. Which certification has been the most useful to you as a CIO? They've all been so immensely helpful, but in this role I'd go with my ScrumMaster, and layering it on my PMP. If you think about data conversion, by nature, it lends itself to agile methodology. But at the same time, Six Sigma I've used a lot on our deep dives into existing workflow.

What's the biggest challenge facing your team as a result of your company's growth?
Maintaining its focus on business-critical initiatives. There's so much movement. There are so many areas where technology is a differentiator. And we find that our priorities change as we acquire new clients and delve into new industries. There's always a risk of finishing a task just because you've started it and not because it's still essential. We do constant checkpoints on active projects to make sure they're still as valuable today as when we started them. And if they're not, we reprioritize. I think that's a trap a lot of people fall into -- not just in technology but in business.

How do you handle those checkpoints?
I have meetings with each of my teams weekly, and I have full team meetings every two weeks. The projects have status meetings every two weeks. We have a structure where we're constantly stepping back and re-evaluating everything we're working on and making sure we don't get distracted by tasks that aren't as important to our clients and business strategy.

Doesn't that slow things down too much in a growing company?
Time spent on the wrong project is not valuable. So there is a risk of shifting gears, but as long as you do it intelligently and manage it, I don't think so. And a lot of work is interconnected, so what we've done for one project, you can reuse. In my nine months here, I can't think of anything we've had to throw away. It's why I'm such a fan of agile. When you start the new sprint, you ask if this is still where we want to go. So we're not scrapping entire projects, you're shifting what you're going to be delivering. Because as you delve deeper in the project, you realize things you didn't know before.

Dossier: Tammy Bilitzky
Hometown: Chicago

Family: Married, with three adult sons and an adult daughter

Do you have a gadget you can't give up? My Samsung Galaxy S4

What's on your reading list? The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, by David Epstein


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