CIO Spotlight: Yousuf Khan, Moveworks

What roles or skills are you finding the most difficult to fill? "Machine learning engineers and data scientists are in high demand right now."

Name: Yousuf Khan

Company: Moveworks

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: September 2018

Location: Mountain View, CA

Yousuf Khan is CIO and VP of Customer Success at Moveworks. Prior to Moveworks, Khan was CIO of Pure Storage where he joined as the company's first CIO in April 2015. Khan led the IT function, cyber security, business applications and core infrastructure. He was part of the leadership team of Pure Storage and helped the company scale over a period of three years. Prior to Pure Storage, Khan was part of the leadership team of Qualys, where he served as the company's first CIO, leading all IT including business applications, product integration, sales operations and IT security.

What was your first job? Executive Administrative Assistant to my dad when I was nine. I took on this role in other companies whenever I got the chance. In my experience, this position provided the best foundation for learning critical business lessons, like how to keep a company organised, the basics of how the company runs, and all that goes with it. This role also satisfied my semi-maniacal need for order.

Did you always want to work in IT? I'm an accidental CIO. I probably would have gone into finance like most of my friends from college. Instead, I got a summer job at a tech start-up and continued full-time to see it go public. That's how I kicked off my career in IT. Even when I tried to pursue roles within different functions early in my career, I always ended up getting an offer to work in IT. 

I am very fortunate to have stayed in IT; otherwise I wouldn't have landed my current gig as CIO of Moveworks, a hugely innovative AI platform that gives large enterprises the ability to autonomously resolve employee IT issues really fast, without the need for human intervention. Truly amazing product and team. And a product I wish had been around when I got my first CIO gig! 

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? BSc in Business Management from Kings College, University of London.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. It all started with a summer job at a tech start-up, which converted to full time as a Project Manager. I continued in IT for a while in different industries (construction, education, cyber security and high tech) and functions ranging from professional services to a bunch of internal roles (procurement, program management, infrastructure, service management). Eventually I landed a CIO role. No major detours, although I'm considered a glorified intern by some venture capital firms and an agent for CIO's who are searching for their next role. 

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? We are an AI company, so we invest a lot in technology to build, deploy and maintain cutting edge machine learning. That's really important and exciting. Cybersecurity will also be a top priority. I am very passionate about the fact that companies, and especially CIOs, have not spent nearly enough time addressing this issue with IT investments.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Moveworks is growing incredibly fast, so my job is to enable that growth by building an operating platform for our company and customers. We need our employees to be happy and productive our our customers to be massively successful.

Today, our product is focused on using AI to solve employees' IT support issues, but we're in the early stages of expanding into business domains like HR and Finance. So that's another big initiative we're spending time on right now.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? The role is evolving. I host a monthly CIO gathering and it's clear that CIOs are increasingly involved in driving customer experience improvements as well as aiding the go-to-market organisation — whether it's in the field or optimising the revenue engines of the business.

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? I'm lucky to work for a company which is at the heart of many CIO's digital transformation initiatives. So I feel like I'm involved, in some way, in all of them. I work closely with the CIOs of Moveworks customers like Autodesk, Broadcom, Western Digital and Nutanix to help them leverage AI as part of their transformation initiatives. 

In addition to the CIO role at Moveworks, I run Customer Success Deployment of the Moveworks platform and the customer experience are linked, so maintaining a close connection between them is something my team and I are intently focused on.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT?  We're an exceptionally data-driven company. We're an AI company with founders from Google and Facebook, so metrics and measurable goals are part of our DNA.

What's interesting to me as a CIO is that Moveworks is one of only a few products that can radically improve IT metrics. I was a customer of Moveworks when I was CIO of Pure Storage and back then we completely automated 25%+ of our IT issues using Moveworks AI, which reduced resolution times from days to seconds and the employee perception of IT went up dramatically. We have customers that measure the impact in many different ways: Ashwin Ballal, CIO of Medallia is great at measuring Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CIO of Nutanix is a big proponent of First-Time-Right (FTR) and most of our customers track Mean-Time-To-Resolve (MTTR). It's great to see the positive impact of AI on all these metrics.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Those who want to do truly amazing work are a great fit at Moveworks. We bring people into the company who want to be part of where technology is headed: AI. We have an incredibly transparent and open leadership style that allows people to be fully invested in the company and empowers them to work on career defining projects. If you stay true to your beliefs, give people an opportunity to do great work and build an amazing company in the process, that creates a great culture.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Machine learning engineers and data scientists are in high demand right now. Really anything in the data domain — data engineers, infrastructure, architects, analysts etc. — has more demand than supply and will do for the foreseeable future.

What's the best career advice you ever received? Go where you are needed and will be appreciated. 

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I'm big on team building and identifying capable leaders in the team early so a succession plan is implicit for me in any role. The challenges really are making the best decisions about who has the potential and wants to be a leader.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Figure out the type of leader you want to be remembered as. Understand that leadership is far different than being a manager. Be yourself. 

What has been your greatest career achievement? Other than rolling out an enterprise AI solution like Moveworks that autonomously resolves IT support tickets? ;) Most likely I would say it is a tie between helping to create revenue-generating product solutions that directly impacted the company revenue growth and running a campaign of enabling and motivating the global sales organisation. Both of those had measurable impact and were enjoyable to work on. Leading a company through an IPO is also up there.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Probably take more time for...looking back. I don't think leaders get enough proper thinking time. It's valuable to be able to take a small step back, have a look around, take account of where things are, and focus on where one can do better. 

What are you reading now? "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World" by General Stanley McChrystal. I've long been a follower of leadership and people's stories of their endeavors. I was lucky to meet him. He was gracious enough to take the time to sign a copy of the book and ensure that he spelled my name correctly.

Most people don't know that I… …wanted to be a professor of history for a long time but figured no one wants to be lectured by me — both generally and even less so in a classroom for an hour.

In my spare time, I like to……. go for very long walks — nothing better to help clear my head and gather my thoughts.

Ask me to do anything but… - I tried it once, was awful at it. Tried it again some time later and again failed miserably. Love the outdoors, mountains, surroundings — will stick to the view.