CIO Spotlight: Antonio Vázquez, Bizagi

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? “Good culture is a complex term and actually cultivating it is an even more complex task… companies are in the process of redefining employee retention and engagement, diversity, training and development, employee experience and collaboration…”

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Bizagi

Name: Antonio Vázquez

Company: Bizagi

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: January 2021

Location: Madrid, Spain

Antonio Vázquez is a results-oriented IT leader who promotes innovation and operational excellence. With decades of experience in advisory and functional head roles, Vázquez has led digital transformation programs for multinational companies across several industries and held positions at LG Electronics, Accenture and NH Hotels. Vázquez has an educational background in business administration with more than 20 years of experience in information technology, innovation, business process reengineering and organisational design. Vázquez was born in Madrid and has a large international exposure and track record for leading transformation & digitalisation programs in multinationals across multiple industries.

What was your first job? I started working as a trainee for a Japanese company in Spain helping them deploy an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software specialised in small-to-medium enterprise.  

Did you always want to work in IT? No, I didn´t. I always thought I would work in finance, marketing or operations.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a degree in economics and did my postgraduate studies in industrial organisation, business administration and marketing.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. When I started working as a trainee for the Japanese company, they offered me a new position in their London headquarters. The company needed internal resources to be a part of an ERP implementation project. In fact, moving from Madrid to London and becoming involved in this large implementation project shifted my career path toward IT. When I came back to Madrid, I started working for DMR Consulting (now NTT Data), moved to the client side as an IT Head at NH Hotels, went back to consulting in Accenture, then moved back to the client as CIO in a large Korean multinational company, LG Electronics. From there, I realised I wanted to work in the software industry and started with Bizagi also as their CIO.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Without a doubt, the most significant initiatives – not only in terms of investment – will be cloud, automation and security.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? The top IT priorities for Bizagi are assessing our internal strategies as a company; we are moving our product offerings to the cloud (which also implies strong cyber security standards), and automation.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? Yes, it does, in both senses. Depending on the company, CIOs still hold roles related to physical infrastructure that don’t make a lot of sense today… everything with a cable is part of the job… isn’t it? On the other hand, new responsibilities closer to the business are often removed from the CIO’s role. Having a strong business acumen is required these days and wider responsibilities closer to the business must be addressed.

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? Yes, I am. At Bizagi, we are digitising processes related to customer experience, demand generation and operational efficiency. We have created a new customer experience management team and a back-office solutions team that will focus on different areas of digitalisation and automation. The best way to balance that is by ensuring we’re fully aligned to our company’s objectives and key results. 

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Bizagi is continually committed to enhancing its digital maturity. Currently, we’re making rapid improvements and accelerating our growth which naturally brings growing pains and IT demands. Since joining Bizagi as it’s first CIO, I’ve ensured my team and I reach the heights we’ve set our sights on without too much strain. The rapid acceleration has pushed us to create an extensive and integrated roadmap that we’re excited to pursue over the coming years that aligns with our core ambitions.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Good culture is a complex term and actually cultivating it is an even more complex task. The pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ have made companies realise the way we work has completely changed. As a whole, companies are in the process of redefining employee retention and engagement, diversity, training and development, employee experience and collaboration, work-from-home policies, wellness and more. Each of these initiatives must be addressed in a completely new and modern way, and it’s a priority of ours at Bizagi to do so. No matter how long you have been a part of a company or industry, we are all re-learning in one way or another.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? The roles we anticipate to be the most difficult to fill include cloud, data and security – areas in which labour shortages are persistent and expected – and, of course, developers, developers, developers. Despite the challenges we are anticipating, we’re looking forward to attracting and retaining some of the best and brightest IT individuals out there.

What's the best career advice you ever received? You don’t find yourself being lucky, you look for it. You need to work hard to be in the right place at the right time. 

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. We have started to draft one as part of the talent retention plan we’re designing. In my case, I have always encouraged team members to be autonomous, accountable, and have the ability to delegate. If we as leaders don’t delegate, our talented employees won’t be able to grow. And just training won’t do the job for us. The old rule that states managers need to know more than the team they manage, is no longer true. Managers must be able to learn from their team in order to get the most out of their individual talents, along with fostering a high-performing group of individuals.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Don’t be afraid of having people on your team who have more experience than you. This presents the perfect opportunity to continuously learn from others.

What has been your greatest career achievement? My greatest achievement was when I was unemployed. Without a job and amid a pandemic, re-steering my career and finding my way forward has been my greatest achievement. 

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Nothing. You take risks, fall, get up again and keep going.

What are you reading now? Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

Most people don't know that I… originally wanted to become an architect! When I was young, I absolutely loved technical design.

In my spare time, I like to…play tennis, travel and spend time with friends and family over a glass of wine.

Ask me to do anything but… eat chocolate. I hate it.