CIO Spotlight: Purnima Wagle, DCP Midstream

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? "The success of our digital transformation initiatives has been recognised by the World Economic Forum..."

DCP Midstream

Name: Purnima Wagle

Company: DCP Midstream

Job title: CIO, Vice President, Information Technology

Date started current role: April 2017

Location: Denver, CO

Purnima Wagle is CIO and Vice President, Information Technology, for DCP Midstream. She has more than 25 years of global corporate experience working for medium to large multi-national companies in industries that span oil and gas, high tech, automotive and supply chain.

What was your first job? Programmer Analyst Trainee at Tata Motors, a leading global automobile manufacturing company.

Did you always want to work in IT? It has always been my passion to work in IT; it has given me the opportunity to comprehend all facets of the organisation like Supply Chain, Operations, Services, Engineering, Finance, & HR. I had a deep appreciation for the logical composable structures and enjoyed writing code to automate repetitive tasks and solve business problems.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? Education has always been a strong force in my life and I will be a lifelong learner.

My parents encouraged me to pursue my interests and believed that everyone, regardless of gender, should have the opportunity to receive education. I earned double Masters: M.S in Statistics from the University of Mumbai, India, and then went on to earn an MBA from St. Mary’s College in California.

Through my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with companies that continued to invest in my growth and I attended the Executive Education sessions at Stanford, MIT, and Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. From the early days of my career, in each of the roles (IT and/or Business) I invested adequate time and effort to comprehensively understand Business Processes across the organisation and their inherent constraints.  

Throughout my career, I have pursued learning and loved tackling new and unique challenges. While my career in IT progressed with increasing responsibilities, I thrived in spaces that overlapped business and technology where I could drive digital transformation for the business on a global enterprise-wide scale.

Having spent a significant portion of my career transforming business while responsible for IT, I decided to challenge myself to gain experience and perspective by sitting on the business side of the conversation. Around this time, the company I was with was going through a rebranding effort from an EMS (electronics manufacturing services) to an end-to-end supply chain company. I seized the opportunity to take on the role of VP of Business Transformation, Global Procurement and Supply Chain, and began the work which would transform a $20B annual spend business. I delivered close to $110M of incremental annual operating profit improvements and was instrumental in earning prestigious external recognition for our supply chain innovations and thought leadership.

Challenged myself to bring in exponential change, this has set me up to drive successful business transformation.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Driving digital transformation across the value chain of the organisation, to enable faster reach to the market, enhance market share and competitiveness takes prominence. We have a comprehensive strategy to drive investments, in area of robotic process automation, predictive analytics, AI / ML, data management, and hyper automation while we keep the organisation safe and secure.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Our CEO, Wouter van Kempen, has undertaken an industry-leading transformation of our company through our people, processes, technology and data – we call this DCP 2.0. This transformation brings together the concepts of operational excellence and sustainability to drive our business forward and create enhanced stakeholder value. Digital transformation is at the forefront of everything we do at DCP, and I have the mandate to drive this to its entirety.

We have had tremendous success in our digital transformation journey so far and in the coming year we look to refine and scale on innovation and super-accelerate digital business taking it to the next strategic level.

Some areas of focus for IT will be to further build out the intelligent insights using predictive analytics that allow for the ICC (Integrated Collaboration Center) to optimise operations, commercial, financial and operate the assets remotely.  We will be raising the bar on workforce enablement, operational efficiency, reliability and safety.

We will also focus on enterprise-wide lean transformation driving continuous improvement to build a high performing culture and generate Digital Revenue for DCP.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? In today’s world, digital transformation has a prominent place in a CEO’s strategy, hence a CIO is no longer just  the technology leader, but the business leader enabling operational excellence through efficiency, risk management and reliability with the appropriate use of technology.

The CIO today is a business advisor partnering with other C-suite executives to set the digital vision for the enterprise, showing how digital initiatives enable business transformation in addition to instilling a culture of digital innovation.

CIOs are leading the comprehensive digital strategy for their companies including digital upskilling for the workforce. CIOs are also partnering with Business Development leaders to design offerings for digital monetisation.

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 the CIO and digital transformation leader at DCP, that is one of my core leadership responsibilities. Enhancing customer experience and engagement through self-service has enabled visibility to operations more than ever before, which has facilitated operational efficiency, and it is one of our business imperatives. At DCP, revenue growth and operational efficiency are KPIs to be achieved, and not a choice of one over the other.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? The success of our digital transformation initiatives has been recognised by the World Economic Forum; we are one of 10 new additions to its Global Lighthouse Network, a community of world-leading companies that have succeeded in the adaptation of the fourth industrial revolution at scale. DCP Midstream is one of only five companies in North America and is the only U.S.-based oil and gas company to receive this distinction for its technological innovation. Additionally, we have been recognised as end-to-end Lighthouses, because we have emerged as leaders in extending fourth industrial revolution transformation through the value chain and beyond manufacturing sites.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? The success of our organisation is driven by our overwhelming commitment to diversity and inclusion. It has provided us the competitive edge, and it has promoted creativity and innovation. At DCP, we take pride in giving and receiving constructive feedback. We see this as the best way to help each other, and this practice has been adopted across the organisation.

We encourage people to challenge the status quo and leverage a combination of design thinking, lean thinking and agile practices to drive continuous improvement from an end-to-end perspective.

Our primary focus is on people, process, technology and data. Every voice and idea needs to be heard and we use the ImagineDCP platform for people across DCP to share their ideas on innovation and business transformation.

Our vision for workforce of tomorrow is to have multi-skilled workforce, and IT is providing training on new self-serve technologies to create citizen developers and citizen data scientists.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? I am always on the lookout for creative individuals with higher digital dexterity to drive innovation and transformation. Changing the status quo, by adoption of emerging technologies and leveraging existing investments should be very integral to the personality.

What's the best career advice you ever received? “Be comfortable being uncomfortable,” is something I believe in very deeply as it puts me at ease when I encounter unforeseen situations. Once you let go and lean into the change, a lot that seemed impossible becomes possible. This has contributed immensely toward the development of my career and is applicable every single day of my life.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Absolutely. One of the primary responsibilities I have as the CIO is to identify and grow top talent. It is important to provide opportunities for the high-performing staff to get broader exposure in terms of business scenarios, technology platforms, leadership styles, increased complexity and abstract requirements. Challenge is that the high-performing staff are generally also the ones who have their plates full as they play a critical role on many strategic initiatives. So, it becomes important for me as the leader to make it a top priority, reset expectations within the organisation, and invest in the individual’s growth and development. Sometimes it involves convincing the individual to give up their comfortable space and take on a risk to learn and grow in future. 

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? People are the most critical asset of every organisation. It is important to invest in their development, create opportunities and support them in achieving their goals, encourage them to try new things, be agile in their approach and drive continuous improvement.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Besides the satisfaction that comes from delivering innovative solutions that transformed the business dramatically, my greatest career achievement is the talented individuals that I’ve had the honour to serve, develop and grow. I am infinitely proud of what my mentees have accomplished and the impact that they have gone on to have in their respective organisations.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I came into DCP with a charter of driving digital transformation to meet business imperatives; working through the objective, I realised there was a tremendous opportunity to super charge our digital transformation journey by adopting Lean Thinking. As expected, “change” had its resistance, but I was able to articulate the value proposition toward changing the status quo by driving continuous improvement. The results were encouraging: 150 folks were trained, and Lean Thinking started to become part of our DNA. In hindsight, I should have set up a lean promotion office and will take this up as a learning.

What are you reading now? I am an avid reader and am currently reading 3 books. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams, by Stefanie K. Johnson. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Ca.rol Dweck

Most people don't know that I… I have an insatiable need to keep learning, and my interests go beyond technology and business. Though I started with an intent to practice meditation, I am learning Tai Chi as a martial art for self-preservation, and I am getting comfortable working with a stick, knife and a folding fan. On mastering these three, I look forward to moving on to a sword. I am always energized after a Tai Chi session, even after a long day at work.

In my spare time, I like to… read, plant flowers and native plants, spend quality time with family and friends, visit new places, go for long hikes or snowshoe, depending on the weather.

Ask me to do anything but… Waste my time on non-value add tasks. My time is not well spent if it is not contributing toward a cause that I am passionate about, and the same applies to my professional life. Above all, I would like to be known for operating with integrity and authenticity.