CIO Spotlight: Barry Shurkey, NTT DATA Services

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? “Someone once told me one time that IT can be broken down into three basic components, technology, processes and people.”

NTT DATA Services

Name: Barry Shurkey

Company: NTT DATA Services

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: July 2013

Location: Plano, Texas

Barry Shurkey is the Chief Information Officer for NTT DATA Services. He is responsible for optimising and advancing its IT roadmap to support the company and its clients. He was awarded the 2018 Corporate CIO Tech Titan award, 2019 D Magazine CIO of the Year Award, 2019 ORBIE Global CIO of the Year Award, 2020 Business Transformation 150 Leaders and was recently named to the 2020 D CEO Dallas 500 most powerful business leaders. Shurkey also serves on the Advisory Board for DFW Alliance of Technology and Women (ATW), which empowers and promotes women in technology.

What was your first job? I had a paper route when I was 12 but was so excited when I was 14 and got a job washing dishes at a restaurant. It was a chance to make some “real” money.  I kept that job all the way through high school and I went back to visit them last year, and they still remembered me. 

Did you always want to work in IT? I sure did. My father was a junior high math teacher and had an opportunity to join Ford and go through their computer programmer training program. He became one of their first computer programmers. On weekends, Dad would let me punch cards for his programs and load tapes in the datacenter. Back then, as an IT professional, you had to do it all.   

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I attended Central Michigan University where I got my BA in management information systems with a minor in computer science. I also attended the London School of Business and Management in 2002 and Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2006 which helped further develop my management skills.  In addition, to improve my knowledge of delivering IT services I became ITIL V3 certified.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I think I’ve had 80% of the jobs you can have in IT. Although most of my time has been spent in Apps. I have done everything from developer, team lead, PMO lead, project manager, program manager, product manager, SQA, integrations, M&As, etc. I have had an opportunity to move across the U.S. with doing six corporate moves and had a multi-year expat assignment in Australia.  I think because I have walked in so many different “shoes” this has made me a better leader.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Our focus over the next year will continue to be on resiliency. When the world completely changed in mid-March, companies quickly learned that becoming resilient is key to maintaining business operations when in a crisis. We expect our digital-first offerings, Dynamic Workplace Services, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and a variety of Security and Cloud Transformation services, to continue to be a significant IT investment that will give our clients what they need now and into the future.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? The CEO has four business imperatives this year: 1) Grow Profitability 2) Optimise 3) Simplify 4) Attract and Retain. I am working closely to support the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) on the Growing Profitability initiative but my role as CIO is focusing on optimising and simplifying the remote work environment for over 45,000 employees. I have been doing this through our digital transformation capabilities. Key activities include the automation of manual processes for employees and improving employee self-help capabilities which reduces our service desk call volume. Whenever I see a spike in tickets at the desk, it turns into an automation opportunity. We are currently working with our dynamic workplace services team to implement self-healing and preventive maintenance on devices since repairs on devices has spiked during the pandemic.   

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? NTT DATA Services is a leading IT Service provider and I believe we have defined the scope of the CIO correctly. Since we have a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) who is focused on delivering the right solutions to our clients and marketplace, I get to ensure that the over 45,000 remote employees have all the right tools and the ability to leverage those market-based solutions to be the most effective team globally. This CDO/CIO partnership works well.

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? See above in 6 and 7.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? The CIO organisation is a very metrics driven organisation. I am a true believer that what gets measured, gets improved. We start out every morning at 8:00 a.m. with key global leaders and review a list of SLAs/KPIs on how our business is running. The metric that is closest to my heart is customer satisfaction. We average around 27,000 tickets a month with a 97% customer satisfaction rate and every day, if we get a very dissatisfied ticket, we review that ticket, not the person, and make sure we don’t have a gap in our processes.

Also, we take the Gartner Self-Assessment Software Maturity Survey every year to make sure we are getting better as an organisation in our IT processes. This survey also identifies the most important processes/activities where we need to focus our energy in the coming year. 

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? NTT DATA has a very strong company culture with a focus on adaptability, resilience, service excellence and diversity and inclusion. This company culture is something that is so important to me as a CIO. There’s nothing I love more than talking with employees and supporting each other. Since travel is currently not an option, I am conducting “virtual walk arounds.” I encourage use of video when connecting with employees or clients and have focused on employee engagement. The company has also invested in training in the areas of Cloud Services, Digital skills, Leadership and Project Management. I host daily virtual “water-cooler” meetings and focus on providing employees with the right tools to feel self-sufficient.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate being) the most difficult to fill? All of the latest technologies are difficult to find and retain. At NTT DATA we utilise a best-in-class digital training platform to provide a well-defined upskilling and cross-training programs for our employees on all the required technologies. We groom our talent not only on all the technical skills but also on the Soft skills needed. We are also partnered with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others to leverage their latest in online training and certifications to our workforce so they can continue to develop themselves and their careers.

What's the best career advice you ever received? My dad always told me to “be the very best you can be” while I was growing up and into work life. In fact, he had it engraved on my Grandpa’s pocket watch for me. He always felt that if you were giving it your best and trying your hardest, others would notice your drive, initiative and results. My dad is still the first person I call when something good happens to me in my career.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Everyone should invest in succession plan, it’s just part of your role as a leader to develop the next generation of CIOs and ensure good business continuity. After 35 years in the IT industry, I think this is my primary responsibility now, not only to train up CIOs but mentor STEM students, and make sure that I am investing in Diversity and Inclusion in all my hiring decisions.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Someone once told me one time that IT can be broken down into three basic components, technology, processes and people. For me, I’ve always believed that if you lead with your heart and invest in people, the Technology and Processes seem to always fall into place. 

What has been your greatest career achievement? My greatest accomplishment is leading the IT effort and overall integration for the acquisition of Dell Services for NTT DATA. The key driver for acquiring Dell Services was to improve NTT DATA's ability to serve clients through its global presence and gain a greater market share, while also expanding the number of solutions the company could offer. One of the primary objectives of the program was to not impact any clients. Conducting successful migrations associated with the integration of Dell Services is critical in achieving the NTT DATA vision of becoming a top five global IT services leader. In this process, the hundreds of migrations were all successful, with zero customer impacts.

Under my guidance, the IT team aligned Dell Services integration effort into several program workstreams. These workstreams comprised more than 100 IT projects and 450 resources over 18 months. Key program metrics includes migration of: more than 1,000 applications 37,000 email boxes 6,500 mobile devices 30,000 desktops and laptops 54 facilities and 1,600 data circuits 9 data centers 30,000+ employees In addition, the team completed the technology migration of 2000+ Service Desk Agents from the legacy Dell Avaya platform to the NTT DATA Services platforms. It was a very hands-on process for me between my weekly reviews of the key issues and risks so that we could address them in a timely manner, and the cross-review procedures (calls) I set up with Dell so that we could simultaneously stay in close contact with them on the progress.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Not knowing that we were all going to work from home so long, I would have asked my son and his wife, and my Mom and Dad move in with me. I think we would have had a blast but having my mom’s cooking every day would have been dangerous. Not having family close throughout this year is difficult.

What are you reading now? Do Nothing: How to break Away from Overworking, Overdoing and Underliving by Celeste Headlee. It seems some of us are on the burnout path with working from home these days and this book caught my eye. I think there will be messages I can take to my team, and some for me too. We all need to learn how to turn it off and be present in the moment with our family and friends.

Most people don't know that I… I am a very introverted person. On the outside, I am very outgoing, but sometime struggle in large groups. My secret is that I love to laugh and usually that is how I break out of my shell with people I don’t know..

In my spare time, I like to…The one and only good thing that has come out of the pandemic is because I am working from home, I joined a golf course and getting a chance to play golf regularly. I’m not the greatest golfer, but I am getting out of the house and catching some fresh air. FOUR!

Ask me to do anything but… I used to not like to go shopping at crowded malls so because of the pandemic and technology, I am all in on online shopping. Getting a package delivered to the house is like Christmas to me. Sometimes, I’ve even forgotten what I’ve ordered, and it really is like Christmas as I unwrap the package with excitement. It’s concerning when your new best friends are the delivery people.