CIO Spotlight: Eddie Garcia, Cloudera

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? "Engage with different parts of the business, get out of your comfort zone..."

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Cloudera

Name: Eddie Garcia

Company: Cloudera

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: September 2019

Location: Austin, Texas

Eddie Garcia is the chief information officer (CIO) at Cloudera. Previously he was vice president of infosec and engineering at Gazzang and chief architect of zNcrypt encryption products. He is the author of four data security patents and a book on data security. At Cloudera, Garcia formerly served as the chief information security officer (CISO) to advance enterprise security in the Cloudera platform and help customers meet regulatory data compliance policies with high performance and easy to maintain solutions.

What was your first job? My first job out of college was as a software engineer. I really enjoy programming and writing code. I took my first programming class when I was in high school, although at the time my high school did not even have a computer, so I traveled by bus for 2 hours on the weekend to the closest town that had programming classes.

Did you always want to work in IT? Yes, though it depends on how you define IT. I always wanted to work in technology developing software and systems but later in my career, I found that my experience and skills could make more of an impact in corporate IT vs R&D.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a B.S. in Computer Science and hold multiple certifications in systems, platforms, computer languages, and information security.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. My career started writing code, then I joined several startups until starting one of my own. I took on every new challenge I could as a VP of Engineering, CISO, and, now, as CIO. It has not been a straight line.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Digital transformation is the top priority, both to support Cloudera’s expansion to delivering products and services in the cloud and to empower our employees who have all been working from home since March 2020 and will continue to do so until April 2021.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Digital Transformation is our priority. We are looking at new processes, as well as new tools, to support our employees, customers, and partners. This includes looking at how our engineers can collaborate better asynchronously, creating seamless onboarding for our customers onto the Cloudera Data Platform, and enabling every employee to feel more connected to the company.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? CIOs will have different responsibilities in different sectors. At a technology company, you will be helping the sales and marketing teams attract new customers. In regulated industries, it requires knowledge of laws and audits. In my current role, I get to do all the above.

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? Cloudera is supporting a digital transformation initiative as the company helps customers move to an enterprise data cloud. The initiative spans customer experience, revenue growth, and operational efficiency. We’ve found as we have created a better customer experience, it has led to greater operational efficiencies.

For example, the time and the number of people required to create a high-quality demo environment for a customer has been reduced from hours to minutes, which has allowed us to serve more customers in a shorter time with the same number of resources.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? We have different IT KPIs in different areas, some are focused on cost reduction, others on service levels or uptime, and a few more on security. We don’t have KPIs just for the sake of having KPIs, we focus on KPIs that align with our business goals, and these change and adapt with changes to our business strategy.

What does a good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it?  There are several key ingredients to a successful culture. Empowering staff to go after new ideas, respecting different opinions, teamwork, having fun, and celebrating accomplishments.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? I believe in developing skills and not always looking for the unicorns. Offering growth, career advancement, and new challenges. What is most difficult is not the skill or role but more diversity in the candidate pipeline. I would love to see more resumes that break the mold of an IT professional.

What's the best career advice you ever received? The harder challenges are the ones worth taking, so don’t be afraid.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I do believe it is important to have a succession plan for many reasons. You have to pay it forward and mentor the next generation. It is also a good idea to move up in your career by making sure there is someone else that can fill your role. I have seen people not promoted because they never worked on their replacement.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Engage with different parts of the business, get out of your comfort zone, and learn how the entire organisation works and find where there are opportunities to make an impact.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I have four patents in information security, held multiple CXO titles, helped navigate IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, but my greatest career achievement will be to inspire others to follow their career dreams.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I would have taken risks and left my comfort zone earlier in my career. I played it safe longer than I should have.

What are you reading now? To be honest, after spending most of my day reading emails and documents, I find that watching a good movie or TV series, or listening to a good music album is the best way to unwind.

Most people don't know that I… Really enjoy music from all genres, depending on the mood I am in I can switch between 80’s hits, hip hop, jazz, EDM, country, boleros, rancheras, and rock en español. It’s great being in Austin, as a live music capital, I can find any of these genres playing live — pre-pandemic that is.

In my spare time, I like to…Ride a motorcycle, wrench on my cars, and take trips to explore new places.

Ask me to do anything but… Sing karaoke — I have tried it and I'm pretty bad at it.