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Verizon's Ajay Waghray tackles a massive project to streamline infrastructure

Mary K. Pratt | Sept. 24, 2013
He talks about the challenges of being a CIO.

How do you balance the need for IT to provide both optimization and innovation? They're not exclusive in any ways. It's about having the discipline to make things simple and free yourself to tackle bigger questions on how to change the game.

As CIO of a fairly new organization, how would you describe the IT culture you're building? It's a culture of performance and ownership. It's there every single time you have a dialogue -- you say, "You touch it, you own it." You talk about producing measurable results, so if you can't measure it, you don't do it. It's about producing measurable business value. That's instilled into all the performance agreements, all the day in and day out projects, all the project reviews. It all has that orientation.

Can you talk about your IT Next program? It is an IT transformation program. My general stance is that innovation and transformation is everyone's job. There are cross-functional teams created to break walls down and get people talking and give people the opportunity to transform the way we work and to be better tomorrow than we are today. We structure it based on needs and context. We take people's input on what they think is most important for us to focus on as a team.

We just had our first live chat session with all the global teams to really share ideas on what are good ideas of risk-taking, decision-making, accountability and how you can use some of the new technologies for collaboration. Another team is focused on developing and improving existing talent. Another team is lean-and-mean design and development, focusing on data architectures and development techniques. This makes it very contextual and current, and the overarching goal is to make us better business leaders.

What do you look for in your IT team members? The most important thing for me, beyond the technical skills -- that's table stakes now -- it's really the business orientation. It's about accountability, ownership, performance, innovation, customer orientation, communication, collaboration. Those softer skills are very, very important.


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