CIO Spotlight: Monica Caldas, Liberty Mutual

What's the best career advice you ever received? “Don’t be anyone else, be adaptable, but be yourself and be authentic.”

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What has been your greatest career achievement? I have several moments in my career that leave me with great pride. The colleagues that I supported in their career journeys and pushed them forward when they did not believe in themselves is the highlight, but those are personal stories. Thus, the one story I can share that leaves me with greatest pride to date was when I was in the manufacturing industry and we were able to use data to change the lifecycle of service and actually create a revenue generating product. We really converted data into an asset. It was the first of our group, it had many roadblocks and unknowns, and we put a small team of motivated individuals together that created a breakthrough. The most rewarding part was that we helped our customer operate more efficiently.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Several weeks into balancing my global technology role and my role at home as a mother of two elementary school kids, I realised that I was not trained to be a part-time teacher. I was continuously trying to find materials at home to help teach the lessons as well as trying to help them be self-sufficient. I then had a moment of clarity that I could apply Agile practices to their routine. We implemented a Kanban board and retrospectives, and it changed the entire dynamic. I wish I had done this earlier.

What are you reading now? I am re-reading Adam Grant’s book, “Think Again.” I read it when it came out earlier this year and found it so intriguing that I am going back through it. The concept of understanding your assumptions and evaluating your position as new information, I found, is a super important skill.

Most people don't know that I… am so passionate about making things better and simpler that several years ago, I was in the middle of my Six Sigma Black Belt certification process and was so energised that I started seeing improvement opportunities everywhere I went. In one instance, I wrote up a list of opportunities for a local supermarket to make customer shopping experience smoother including guidelines on how to execute the suggestions. I delivered that to the store manager and subsequently was invited by the regional manager to explain the ideas in person to the store manager and key store leaders. It was an interesting experience to see my ideas implemented and my shopping experience improve.

In my spare time, I like to…go to art museums, especially modern art. My favourite art museum is the Art Institute in Chicago and the most fun art experience I have had was at the Nike Center for Art and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ask me to do anything but… iron clothes. I never got the hang of this skill.

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