CIO Spotlight: Rich Murr, Epicor

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? "CIOs often have one of the best cross-functional understandings of how the business really works and are well-positioned to..."

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Epicor

Name: Rich Murr

Company: Epicor

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: June 2017

Location: Austin, TX

Rich Murr is the Chief Information Officer for Epicor, a private equity-owned cloud software provider headquartered in Austin, Texas. With over 20 years of experience in information technology, Murr has deep expertise across the entire technology spectrum, including IT architecture, software development, operations, security, and data governance.

What was your first job? My very first job as a teenager was mowing lawns in the summer and shovelling snow in the winter. After I graduated college, I was an officer in the Marine Corps for four years.

Did you always want to work in IT? When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pilot or a professional musician. When I moved to Austin to pursue music, I found my way into IT. I enjoyed the problem solving, creativity, and teamwork it required, and I'm very happy with my career in IT. (I still find time to play music in my free time!)

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I took a handful of programming classes in college, but I majored in geography.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. After the Marines, I spent a couple of years writing songs and playing guitar in a band with my brother. We had a lot of fun, but at the same time, I went back to school and also did a lot of self-study to learn about IT and software development. When the dot.com era started to boom, I worked as an IT engineer at a couple of companies in Austin. When the boom ended, I spent 7+ years with a very large retailer, eventually leading their IT operations and software development teams. I then took successive VP-level technology roles at Rackspace and Bazaarvoice before joining Epicor as its CIO. It's a rewarding career, and I'm very grateful.  

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? We're laser focused on building and operating great cloud solutions for the markets we serve, and we are investing in the talent and technology needed to ensure our solutions deliver the features, stability, scalability, and security our customers expect.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? The IT investments I just mentioned are reflective of our CEO's priorities. One of the great things about working at Epicor is the alignment of our leadership team, whether it's company culture or goals. I think this alignment is one of the many reasons our company is experiencing such strong growth.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? I think most CIOs have an opportunity to offer much more than the technical leadership typically associated with the role. CIOs often have one of the best cross-functional understandings of how the business really works and are well-positioned to lead complex business process optimisation efforts. They're also well-suited to lead digital transformations.   

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? As a technology company, we've always had digital in our DNA. That said, I'm always looking for ways to leverage digital more extensively to make it easier for our employees to serve our customers and to improve our customers' experiences with our products.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? As a cloud provider, our digital business is already well established, and the most important KPI is the number of customers that choose our cloud solutions.   

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Aside from strong technology skills and a proven ability to execute, we look for individual contributors and leaders who are self-aware, have a sense of humility, and don't take themselves too seriously. I think the best way to encourage these traits and behaviours is to exhibit them as much as possible. 

 What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? It's probably more of a business than an IT skill set, but it can be challenging to find people that understand how to help companies get a handle on cleaning and sustaining business data. It requires a cross-functional and deep understanding of how data flows across business units and systems - something that can be unique to each company.

What's the best career advice you ever received? I've been lucky to get great advice from some really talented people over the course of my career, but I think the best advice I received was just after I was promoted to director. My colleague told me that my job would now be less about technology and more about fostering communication and collaboration and driving alignment. I wasn't so sure at the time, but it turns out she was right, and I've worked diligently to build and refine the required skills.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I believe training all your staff to be high performers is important, and that this training should constantly be taking place. You want your team to be high performers together - a team that collaborates well, is aligned on business priorities, and is hyper focused on the tasks at hand.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Be as much a student of leadership as you are of technology. Leadership is a skillset that needs to be learned, developed, and maintained.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Winning Austin's 2019 Battle of the Bands with Cloud 9, Epicor's corporate band! We brought amateur musicians and singers together from across the company in support of a great cause - Austin's Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. I consider this a greatest achievement because it demonstrates the success of our company culture, which has experienced a marked positive shift over the past three years. Our band reflects what makes Epicor strong in day to day business. Each of our band members brings their own unique musical talents. Individually, they are skilled in their own right. But when we performed together, we were able to achieve even more. The same can be said for our Epicor team and what we are able to accomplish for our customers.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I can't think of anything I would have done differently - even the challenges I faced turned out to be learning opportunities.

What are you reading now? My brother got me hooked on Chet and Bernie. They're such creative, fun books!

Most people don't know that I… Take guitar lessons with my younger daughter, and we're planning to busk this summer in downtown Austin.

In my spare time, I like to…Hang out with my wife and daughters. Exercise. Play guitar. Binge watch Netflix.

Ask me to do anything but… Eat sushi.