CIO Spotlight: Mark Mintz, Charles River

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? “The role of the CIO has expanded beyond someone who is exclusively focused on technology implementations and into one that is broader and more strategic.”

Headshot of Mark Mintz, Corporate Senior VP & CIO at Charles River Labs
Charles River Labs

Name: Mark Mintz

Company: Charles River Labs

Job title: Corporate Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer

Date started current role: February 2021

Location: Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Mark Mintz joined Charles River in February 2021 as Corporate Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, and was promoted to Corporate Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer in June 2021. As CIO, Mintz leads the Company’s global Technology organisation and is responsible for delivering technology solutions that further enhance the Company’s operational capabilities and support Charles River’s long-term strategic objectives. Mintz is a seasoned IT professional with more than 25 years of IT and Digital experience, which includes building and delivering enterprise and digital software, as well as continuously improving the IT estate, using agile, cloud, design thinking and modern architectures.

What was your first job? My first job was as a technical consultant at Andersen Consulting (pre-Accenture rebranding). In that role, I was focused on ERP development and implementation in both Finance and Human Resources.

Did you always want to work in IT? When I started college, I was more focused on obtaining a degree in Finance, with the plan to make that my career.  As my education continued, I found the opportunity to combine my passions for technology and numbers into a combined degree in Finance and Information Systems. From that point, I knew I wanted technology to be a major part of my work. IT was a natural progression.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I completed my undergraduate degree at The State University of New York at Albany and earned my Bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance and MIS. Previously, I’ve been certified as a PMP and later as a Scrum Master. I make it a point to continuously learn as I move forward in my career, focusing on emerging technologies and leadership skills. In the technology space, I’ve progressed through numerous programming languages and technical platforms and continue to make learning a focus today.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. The most important part of my career, in my perspective, is the combination of industry and consulting experience. By having a mix of both of I have been able to go deep, as well as broad. This has helped build my skillset, as well as get exposure to many different industries, leadership styles, corporate cultures and technologies.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Our digital journey will be a key initiative for Charles River in the coming year. Engraining our approach that emphasises customer experience will allow us to modernise important processes that can ultimately improve patient care, cost-effectiveness, drug production, and drug development. Everything that we do from a technology perspective is meant to align with overall business strategy.  From a technology perspective the work we do is tightly aligned with the most important and high impact business opportunities.  As we create the technology strategies to align with those business strategies we explore all tools at our disposal to achieve those objectives: Agile, customer centric design thinking, cloud, AI/ML, connected devices, digitisation, automation, architecture modernisation, etc

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? At Charles River, we are working towards our goal of taking a year off of the drug development timeline. The most impactful way to achieve that is by an even greater focus on re-imagining and digitising and technology and data enabling operations, which ladders up to elevated science and experience for our customers. This year, my number one priority is driving a full technology-led, customer centric, digital, data and analytics transformation.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? The role of a CIO is always changing and over the past decade, across all industries, the role of the CIO has expanded beyond someone who is exclusively focused on technology implementations and into one that is broader and more strategic. The pandemic certainly thrust CIOs into a central role managing remote work, navigating abrupt changes in business operations and accelerating digital transformation.  Additionally, the role of the CIO should be that of business amplifier: partner with business and functional leaders to leverage technology to amplify the impact that business/functional leaders aspire to achieve.

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? Our digital journey will enable us to spend more time focused on the science and less on the manual efforts and administrative burden associated with complex processes. Promoting digital collaboration where possible will allow client-facing colleagues to drive value through meaningful customer interactions while saving time on administrative tasks. Our transformation aspires to continue pushing the envelope making Charles River the preferred choice for our customers’ needs, not only because we have the best science but because we are a delight to work with and are able to be the most efficient and effective partner for  them.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Our goals begin with our strategic plan to create a technology first, customer obsessed, agile culture. We are currently establishing foundations, scaling and building our capabilities to enable the unlocking of the Charles River portfolio leveraging digital, technology enablement, AI, ML and cloud. Our most important measure is value created

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? A good culture fit at Charles River is a safe space where great people have the capacity to do their work. And that is built from the ground up. As we look to our future, we are embarking on a reimagination of how we do business and create a culture fit through a digital journey. It’s includes creating an environment where our people can experience an exceptional range of formal and informal opportunities that will empower them to grow, innovate, rethink approaches, and continuously stretch yourself.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Great talent is in high demand across the board. Cyber, cloud/devops, software and data engineering (custom and COTS), data science, Agile, design research, UX/UI design, change management are all in high demand everywhere. Building a culture and operating environment, linked to our mission, that attracts, excites and retains world class talent is a major focus every day.

What's the best career advice you ever received? I’ve received so much great advice over my career and even before my career started:  the earliest I could remember is “go into technology as it will impact everything in the world” back in the nineties before the internet revolution.  It’s great advice I’d give anybody today.  One of the best pieces of advice that I continue to remind myself of all the time is “be bold” don’t let your fears hold you back from trying to do great things.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. The best technology in the world does not implement itself. High performing talent is a must have to create impact through technology. We are building a culture and operating environment, linked to our mission, that attracts, excites and retains world class talent.  This is a major focus everyday and one that will continue to evolve to ensure we create an environment where the best people are empowered and properly enabled to do great things.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Be bold, don’t be afraid to truly aspire to be a partner to the business where the objective is to not just implement technology. The aspiration should be to fundamentally re-imagine the business leveraging the best technology and design thinking to make that a reality. 

What has been your greatest career achievement? I’ve had several big achievements, from being a founding member of McKinsey’s digital practice that has grown to be a large proportion of the Firm’s impact, to making McKinsey partner as an acknowledgement of my ability to drive value through technology, to most recently becoming a CIO of a S&P 500 company.  With that being said, I hope my biggest achievement is still yet to come and will be transforming our company’s reputation to be a leader in technology, only rivalled by the leadership we have in science.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? In hindsight I would have taken my own advice to be bold more consistently. While I do believe I regularly push myself to be bold there were opportunities throughout my career where I could have been even bolder in my aspiration and approach to getting there.

What are you reading now? A lot on leadership and building a culture that nurtures, empowers and enables people: since so much of our collective success is predicated on building a culture and operating environment that attracts, excites and retains top talent my objective to ensure I am pulling from all the best and most diverse thinking and continuing to push my thinking on how best to be bold and enable others to do the same.

Most people don't know that I… Really believe that we all need to have fun at work. If we’re not enjoying what we do every day, even laughing during our day on a regular basis, then we’re not in the right spot.

In my spare time, I like to…Travel with my friends and family, read, golf and ski.

Ask me to do anything but… Do the same thing over and over again…I can’t help but try and make it better and work myself out of the job 😊