CTO Sessions: Jim Radzicki, TELUS International

What is one unique initiative that you’ve employed over the last 12 months that you’re really proud of? “2020 was not the year anyone planned, I am most proud of our people and their resilience, creativity, flexibility and positive attitude…”

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TELUS International

Name: Jim Radzicki

Company: TELUS International

Job title: CTO

Date started current role: April 2020

Location: Orange County, California, United States

Jim Radzicki has had an exciting road of experiences to get here as CTO and to support such an innovative, diverse and engaged group of people across the globe. Having previously led global organisations as CIO, CTO, EVP and VP of Technology, Radzicki has had the privilege of traveling to over 40 countries, including visiting 47 U.S. states beyond his current home in Orange County, California. Radzicki is experienced and practiced in Board, C-Level, Private Equity and Analyst communications, having authored board level plans, and representing large firms to the analyst community.

What was your first job? I had a variety of “first jobs” in my hometown on Long Island. My jobs ranged from stocking beverages at a beer, wine and soda distributor, picking up clams in the bay, and working as a deli counter clerk. However, my stint in the first 12 theater multiplex in Long Island was the most formative to my understanding of corporate culture as this was the first large company I worked for.

Did you always want to work in IT? No, it took me a while to figure out which career path I wanted to take. My first job out of college was running Jiffy Lube’s first location in Arizona, then in Colorado. After a couple of years, I decided to go back to school and pursue a career in technology.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a BSBA in Marketing from the University of Arizona, then decided to go back to school and pursue an associate degree in Computer Science.  After getting an IT support job, I decided my love was programming and decided to go the MS certification route. While a CTO now, my most recent certification was CISSP, which I have to say I truly enjoyed the learning process and breadth of topics covered along the way.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. As mentioned above, I was a little lost in the early stages of my career, and after following a Network Administrator around for a day, I decided what I truly wanted to do was programming. In hindsight, I believe in taking the time to find what you love to do and passionately follow it - that is your best chance for success. That’s the advice that I give now!

What type of CTO are you? While I love technology, I still consider myself to be a people-first person. I like for technology to be meaningful and impactful. I also truly love the sales support side of technology and co-innovating with our clients to create the best solutions to solve their business problems.

Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? There is so much interesting technology from Solar to IoT to 5G and blockchain. I am personally anxiously awaiting advancements in battery technology. With the great push towards electric vehicles and the continued decrease of use in ICE vehicles, we will soon be discussing and comparing the efficiency rating of electric vehicles as they will not all be the same. Beyond vehicles, practically everything in our lives relies on technology these days. Being portable and disconnected from the grid and having the ability to rapidly charge will continue to push the continued evolution of battery technology.

Are there any technologies which you think are overhyped? Why? Not specifically, but I do believe that there are often times that organisations try to fit the latest technology into their environments when perhaps they are not the best suited. It can lead to technology for the sake of technology, rather than meeting the needs of the business or situation.

What is one unique initiative that you’ve employed over the last 12 months that you’re really proud of? As with most organisations, 2020 was not the year anyone planned, I am most proud of our people and their resilience, creativity, flexibility and positive attitude toward implementing technology and new processes to so quickly enable a nearly 50,000 person global workforce to work from home.

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? At TELUS International, we design, build, and deliver digital customer experience solutions. A key part of the design is being empathetic to customer needs (for us, that means both our team members and our clients). We often see that operational efficiency for our team can lead to revenue growth as streamlined processes produce a better customer experience.

What is the biggest issue that you’re helping customers with at the moment? Many customers are grappling with work from home technologies and how best to leverage automation. At some point, all conversations lead back to security. Many of our enterprise customers are discussing hybrid cloud solutions as they want to leverage the best from different hyper-scalers.

How do you align your technology use to meet business goals? Having a people-first culture has been critical to using technology to meet business goals. One of the key aspects of my career has been bridging the gap between technology and functional teams. By staying aligned and working closely with teams to determine their needs, we are able to apply the right technology to help them meet their goals.

Do you have any trouble matching product/service strategy with tech strategy? No, similar to question 11, I find that taking the time to align with teams helps us better match strategy and technology.

What makes an effective tech strategy? In addition to the points above, making sure your strategy is “easily consumable” by internal teams, clients and partners is key.  Overly “tech-speak” and complex messaging can complicate the goal and distract from the core objectives.  Sounds simple, but it can be challenging to craft a simple message that can also be meaningful

What predictions do you have for the role of the CTO in the future? As technology becomes increasingly complex, customers continue to want the solutions to be simpler and simpler to use. Managing business needs will continue to push the CTO into every aspect of the business, but as people become more business savvy technology decisions will increasingly be shared with cross-functional business leaders. Communications and having a business mindset from the CTO will increasingly be in demand.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I am most proud that I have been able to take a people-first approach in conjunction with my love of technology and technical career.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? While I am very happy with my career and the path that took me here, I truly enjoy the formative years of companies and might have liked to join an organisation earlier in their start-up phases.

What are you reading now? I don’t read a lot of books but do try to stay up to date on the latest trends from various sources. For example; business trends from Market Watch, NPR, Reuters and Barron’s; tech news from Engadget and TechCrunch.

Most people don't know that I… Collect Harry Potter Book 1 in foreign languages. Whenever I travel to different countries, I look for it in local book shops.

In my spare time, I like to…Work with my hands and build things. Having spent a good portion of my career building things in the virtual world, I enjoy home improvement and handy projects of all kinds.

Ask me to do anything but… skip dessert!