KEITH BROOKS

    CIO at CRGO Law

    I like to read up on the latest technologies and meet up with fellow tech leaders to discuss challenges and how to solve them, as well as chatting about tech. Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself
    I am the CIO for the CRGO Law firm, which is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and I split my time between living in Boca Raton and Rehovot, Israel.
      
    What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?
    My road to being a CIO started while I was obtaining my MBA from Baruch College in New York. I was going to school at night and during the day I worked first for The Roundabout theatre on Broadway as an assistant business manager and later the IT staff and then on Wall Street for Bankers Trust and Bank of America putting in some of the early networks and collaboration suites and email solutions. After the banks I left New York and moved down to Florida where I expanded my knowledge further into network management and people management while working with Citibank, Burger King, and Ryder. I then took two years to live in Israel and worked with Intel and later IBM Israel. It was while working with IBM Israel that the future CIO for Lotus Development found me and asked me to be part of an EMEA team. Three years based in London and I was looking to return to Florida and once again ended up advising Ryder and Burger King. It pays to leave on good terms, never burn your bridges. By now I was at a crossroads to be more in IT or more in product marketing and as it turned out, I was needed more on the technology side, it was at that point I was asked to help the CRGO law firm. That initial project eventually grew and I took over all the firms IT efforts and that continues to this day. From on premises solutions to cloud to everything in between, we went through quite a bit over the years.
     
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    Has it always been your vision to reach the position you’re at? Was your current role part of your vision to become a tech leader?
    Honestly, my goal when I was younger, was to work for IBM. But, having achieved that, and managing, by 30, I wanted something better to do and eventually found the law firm and we have grown together over the years.
     
    Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?
    I don't have a role model or mentor from the IT world but I do follow Richard Branson and his business and marketing efforts because few executives put themselves out there for the good and the bad the way he has over the years.
     
    How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?
    Tech is tough. Just when you think you see the future, you get hit by a new thing out of the blue. Where would Zoom be without Covid? What happened to Skype? Why do people like Slack so much? We have intergenerational teams trying to work together. I think the future will enhance the ability of everyone to work together in a freer and looser format than in the past few years. The role of the CIO is to help not just the tech make sense but the people using and relying on the tech to be able to create new and better ways of working.
     
    What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?
    A sense of humor, tech can be frustrating to the non-techies, be patient and teach people more, and your headaches will go away faster.
     
    How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?
    I attend many events and conferences each year, some technical, some business, some marketing, and some for fun to see how other industries work. I am involved in many slack channels where I provide and receive answers to questions from peers from tech to management to personnel, so my ear is on what might be coming along.
     
    What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?
    AI is definitely getting better, and this will have a huge impact across the board. Why do you need a lawyer if the AI has understood all the case law?
     
    If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?
    Plan, but also wing it. The best choices are usually made off the cuff. Always try to experience more than what you know.
     
    Is there anything in particular that you would still like to achieve in your career or what is the next step on your journey?
    I want to think I will be a CEO at some point because the technical side is now winning out over the nontechnical side.
     
    If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
    The price of education, learning, and knowledge should be free for anyone and everyone worldwide.
     

    A big thank you to Keith Brooks from CRGO Law
     for sharing his journey to date.

     

    If you would like to gain more perspective from Tech Leaders and CIOs you can read some of our other interviews here.

     

    The CIO Circle Interview

     

    The CIO Circle Editor
    Post by The CIO Circle Editor
    January 24, 2023