CIO Spotlight: John Mazotis, Bynder

Do you have a succession plan? “My motto to my teams is three words; make me obsolete. I’ve shared that with all my team members over the years.”


Name: John Mazotis

Company: Bynder

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: January 2021

Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

As Chief Information Officer, John Mazotis leads global information security for Bynder's product, network and organisation against internal and external threats. He also spearheads Bynder’s Digital Transformation, Automation and Data-driven governance efforts to ensure that all information remains accurate, consistent, protected and flows seamlessly throughout the organisation. Throughout his tenure, Bynder has achieved certifications with key security standards including ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 27018, PCI-DSS, HIPAA, GDPR and CCPA. Mazotis’ experience spans more than 20 years in IT management, Information Security and Risk Management at global companies such as the ING Group and Piraeus Bank in his native Greece.

What was your first job? I applied for my first job during my college years. I was working as a technical customer support engineer, in the IT department, supporting an in-house consumer factoring application.

Did you always want to work in IT? Absolutely, even from my junior high school years I was asking my parents for my first computer, a Commodore 64. Initially, I wanted to be a developer. I wrote a few apps between the age of 14-18 but soon realised that debugging code was not my future path.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I studied Computer Science at the University of Athens, followed by a masters course in Data Communications at the University of Brunel in London. In terms of certifications I hold CISM, CRISC and a variety of privacy related certifications.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. My career path started as an IT engineer. Soon after, I pivoted to network and system administration and my first management roles. Following my relocation to the Netherlands, I took on further IT Risk and management roles, while focusing on Information Security. Three years ago I joined Bynder, spearheading Information Security, Privacy and IT management. After my promotion to CIO, I’ve taken on the additional tasks of spearheading Bynder’s Digital Transformation, Automation and Data-driven governance.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Although Bynder was born on the cloud meaning that physical servers and presence were never a prerequisite, many companies have followed a more traditional on-premise approach. As such and with the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation has been the biggest initiative and challenge of CIO’s over the last 18 months. Regarding Bynder, the IT investments and initiatives are based on supporting a data-driven decision making model. The scale, growth and maturity of the company no longer allows for hunch-based decisions.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Bynder has been a pioneer in the digital asset management space for quite some time now. Maintaining and strengthening that leadership position are the priorities of not only the CEO, but the entire management team and board of directors. Having the right information at the right time is vital, and the CIO organisation was built based on the need for accurate, reliable, easily understandable, real-time strategic information. It’s no longer enough to “just” have data; it’s about being able to automate the search through tons of data points and present the ones that support on-the-fly decisions.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? The CIO role holds a very broad scope of responsibilities. From the traditional IT support role (i.e. every employee needs a working laptop), to the security of customer and employee data, and the interconnection of all core enterprise systems which reside at the heart of an organisation. In my view, the CIO role should play a bigger role, both in certain traditional financial areas like procurement and also in assisting the product organisation by managing their core systems and allowing R&D to focus solely on product and technology improvements.

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? Absolutely, the term digital transformation has been a cliche in the IT community for years. Everyone spoke about it but everyone also left it in the backlog for another day. Luckily for Bynder, data driven governance was always a priority. Bynder’s continuous (digital) transformation is a balancing act between customer and revenue growth and operational efficiency. I often use the following analogy to describe this delicate balance: “Operational efficiency” is the crew of a Formula One car and “revenue growth” is the race driver. The crew are the people in the factory making sure that the race car runs at optimal performance while the driver is there to steer the car, leverage the advantages the crew created and lead the team to victories. One cannot exist without the other. A very fast car in the hands of a bad driver will not win and vice versa.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Being someone who sets very high standards for myself and my teams, I am always the first to demand more in terms of maturity, growth and standardisation. Bynder’s strong values, empowered by our vision and mission are reflected in the organisational wide KPIs which then trickle down to every department and team. Every objective from every employee is tied to a department-wide initiative, which in turn is tied to a company-wide KPI. Our structure resembles the roots of a tree where every little thing that happens contributes to sustainable growth.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? All the vacancies in my organisation start with the following phrase: “We can find a lot of candidates with good technical skills, however that’s not enough.” At Bynder we are looking for more than that. Culture and diversity play a vital role in what we do and what we want to accomplish. Every candidate is evaluated through a number of factors and a good cultural fit with the team and the organisation is pivotal to any decision.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? A few years ago, finding good Information Security and Privacy skills was quite difficult. This has drastically changed and these days the skill set most in demand is that of the Information Governance officer. That’s the traditional IT architect role enriched with the business-like focus and the knowledge of financials. As a role that sits in the heart of the business, the CIO team needs to be able to speak “finance” with the CFO, “product” with the CPO, “business” with the CEO, etc.

What's the best career advice you ever received? The best advice I received and often try to pass on to my teams is to see each situation through the eyes of your peers and not only through the lens of what “we” want to accomplish. Success is not an us versus them game; success is when you understand what your peers need and how you work with them to deliver.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. My motto to my teams is three words; make me obsolete. I’ve shared that with all my team members over the years. I feel blessed to have been able to accomplish this through the majority of my roles and teams. In the long term, one person, even if continuously delivering at 120%, will achieve less than a team delivering at 80%. Taking that starting 80% and improving it to 90% or even more is critical to the success and continuity of any organisation. The challenge is not easy; however, it starts with the selection of the right people.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Don’t strive for your success; strive for the success of your teams and peers. Their success will also elevate you.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I feel blessed to have been able to accomplish a number of things I feel extremely proud of. I’ve grown through the ranks in a number of companies and the common denominator in all those is building a high performing culture of skilled and motivated teams.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Perhaps I should have dedicated more time to my family. I am a workaholic and there were evenings where I did not even say goodnight to my kids. Luckily my wife has always been there to support me so I owe a lot of my success to her.

What are you reading now? I was recently recommended a very inspiring book written by Betsy Atkins. The title is Be Board Ready.

Most people don't know that I… Am an introvert.

In my spare time, I like to…Spend as much time as possible with my wife, two daughters, our little dog and our rabbit.

Ask me to do anything but… Write code :)