CIO Spotlight: Josh Hamit, Altra Federal Credit Union

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? “The two areas that really stand out are data and information security. There’s simply far more demand than there are qualified resources to fill these positions.”

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What's the best career advice you ever received? Some of the best advice I ever received was to try to be pragmatic in my approach to information security. At times, the traditional security mind-set is to brute force the organisation into compliance. It’s true, there’s a bit of policing involved when it comes to information security, but a practitioner is going to be a lot more successful if they can gain buy-in through a pragmatic approach that tactfully guides decisions and conveys value in mitigating risk. Communication and consensus building is so important and requires an artful balance of blending highly technical topics into terms the business can understand.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. We devote a significant amount of time into giving our staff the tools, training, and mentorship they need to continue growing. In IT, that commitment is regardless of whether our staff have technical or managerial aspirations. A couple areas we’ve really focused on have been protecting our training budget and creating more tiers for technical career paths. On the management side, I’ve taken the opportunity to share my story and lessons learned with my direct reports, and specifically what it takes to become a CIO. The challenge with training up managers is they often tend to be bogged down in the tactical execution of plans and day to day issues that come up. Finding the time to think more strategically can be a challenge when you’re further down in the trenches. Some of the things we’ve done to address this challenge is promoting more aspiring leaders to help shoulder the load and reorganising the department in order to free up more time for managers to spend on innovation and strategic thinking. Expecting people to buy out the time for these things is easier said than done, so it’s incumbent on a CIO to foster that type of culture.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Whenever possible, try to have an outward approach to building relationships and gaining a solid reputation within the organisation, rather than an inward view that focuses more on your individual achievements and resume. The more that you can earn the trust and respect of the people you work with, the more likely you’ll be noticed and promoted organically.

What has been your greatest career achievement? More than anything I’ve accomplished individually, it’s been the privilege of leading great teams and stellar people throughout my career, along with the many projects we’ve pulled off together that have made a difference. I would add that it’s been extremely rewarding to see many of my former and current employees grow to take on larger roles, and the privilege of having played a hand in their development and mentorship.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? From a professional standpoint, I probably would have branched into information security earlier in my career. Not just because it’s an area I’m passionate about, but also because the principles of information security are so foundational to IT in trying to do things the right way and avoiding shortcuts.

What are you reading now? Like a lot of families, we’ve been pretty buried in trying to manage everything from home, including both work and school. My wife has graciously taken on the bulk of parenting and teaching during the day, but distance learning has meant a lot of extra time spent in the evenings doing homework and reading with my kids. I have some good books that have been on the backburner, so hopefully it won’t be too long before some of the pandemic fatigue wears off.

Most people don't know that I… love to cook and experiment with recipes whenever I get the chance. I’ve had quite a few people ask for my Chicken Pad Thai recipe, but so far I haven’t given away my secrets.

In my spare time, I like to…dream about having spare time. Being parents of two amazing girls (ages 7 and 4), my wife and I joke all the time about how little downtime we actually get anymore. Whenever we get the chance, we enjoy traveling and experiencing new places as a family.

Ask me to do anything but… compromise my integrity.

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