Director of Technology - CIO at National Strenght and Conditioning Association

Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself

I'm originally from Mexico and went to the Tecnologico de Monterrey, one of the best universities in Latin America. I lead the IT department at the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) in Colorado Springs, CO where I'm accountable for strategy, digital transformation, information security, software development, support, infrastructure (on-site and cloud-based), projects, governance, and analytics for the global organization.

What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?

I have held different leadership roles in my career including VP of Software Development, Director of Engineering, Enterprise Architect, Director of Operations (in Mexico), CISO and CIO in global companies. Each opportunity presented different requirements, and I know that I have provided excellent leadership, solutions, and services to those organizations.

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?

I always wanted to be in a CIO position, which is why I accepted challenges offered by different positions in the past and to work on new technologies and solutions even when there was not much research or information available. It is challenging assisting an organization unless we have the necessary attitude, knowledge, and experience in different aspects of the business. The key is to figure out how to deliver technologies that help achieve corporate vision, mission, and goals. And sometimes, you have to take on risks and these can be mitigated with planning and gathering a great team that helps solve issues as they appear in projects, emergencies, or day-to-day support.

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Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?

I have had multiple mentors in my path to whom I'm very grateful for their encouragement. One of them taught me that "when you do the right things right, and for the right reasons, the outcomes are always right". I learned from another that when approaching any solution delivery, following a sound project management approach will significantly reduce the "pain" from the overall process. A good friend of mine frequently said "it is all about people and their culture" and to remember that "culture eats strategy for breakfast"; without a proper culture, true change was extremely difficult to implement. Last but not least, "always use an incremental approach" which, in terms of change management, it has always been sound advice that I have applied in many challenges in my career. Thank you all...

How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?

This role is always evolving as change is inevitable. We as corporate leaders will have to get even more involved in all business functions and strategy. AI and ML are going to transform many aspects of global organizations. Applied analytics are critical too, so being a leader who embraces and understands how these technologies can be used to solve business problems is paramount. We should always remember that we can have the coolest technology in the world, but if it is not solving business requirements, it is just a cool toy.

What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?

True leadership means to understand that we, as leaders, serve the team under our purview as much as the organization and its customers. Empathy is another critical skill that is misunderstood as some confuse kindness with weakness and we, as leaders, can be firm and ask for the right results while understanding that we deal with people with all that is involved. When we treat people right and with respect, we will be able to attract strong talent and keep them through good and challenging times. Focus management (not time management) is also a critical skill that is required to prioritize efforts and make sure objectives are met in a timely manner.

How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?

We are all too busy with everyday tasks, but we must focus on what is important, and learning is something that cannot stop happening. Reading and listening to books and podcasts, selecting relevant content providers, attending training sessions from experts and events from organizations as well as business-related symposiums, help keep us up to date with regards to all aspects of continuous improvement.

What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?

I mentioned earlier Analytics, AI, and ML as I believe that they will significantly improve the outcome of sports sciences initiatives and applications. These will help create better training programs with enhanced metrics, and that will also improve the research capabilities related to Strength and Conditioning for diverse populations at a global level.

"Continue learning something new, and grow every day."

If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?

Get to know yourself better than anybody else, as it will help you know your strengths and weaknesses and how to improve. Continue learning something new, and grow every day. Life is too short, so live each day as if it were the last (and it could very well be). And last but not least, as Sir Winston Churchill said: "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."

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 continue making a positive difference in the world and help improve the lives of people and organizations. I firmly believe that we all have a purpose in life and we should use all our experience, knowledge and intent to teach and help others to be in a better place each and every day. 

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Increased awareness of living in the present moment. It is not an easy task, but this simple change would exponentially improve our lives with enough focused effort.
Other details that you'd like to add:

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience in this forum.

A big thank you to Alonso Montiel from the National Strength and Conditioning Association 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.

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The CIO Circle Editor
Post by The CIO Circle Editor
June 12, 2024