CTO Sessions: Tim Carmody, IPC

What type of CTO are you? “I leverage my technical experience to act as a conduit between technology and business to drive the best solutions possible not only for today but also the future.”

Headshot of Tim Carmody, Executive Vice President and CTO at IPC

Name: Tim Carmody

Company: IPC

Job title: Executive Vice President and CTO

Date started current role: February 2019

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Tim Carmody has more than 30 years of experience in technology for the Financial Services industry with a focus on Extranet, trade lifecycle services, low latency, and integrated voice communication solutions.  He is currently CTO for IPC, industry leader for mission-critical trading communications. In addition to 20 years at IPC, Carmody also spent 10 years leading North America Engineering at BT Radianz, as well as a year at an optical start-up. 

What was your first job? I had several jobs when I was a kid, including roller skating messenger in New York, but my first real job was as a Systems Engineer for an electrical contractor that ultimately bought IPC. I love my job now, but roller skating messenger was still the most fun.

Did you always want to work in IT? At first, I wanted to work in Advertising, but people I knew in that industry talked me out of it and my high school advisor talked me into IT (Systems Engineering) based on my math and programming skills. 

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I received a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from Boston University. I’ve had many product certifications throughout the years, but all mainly tied to learning on the job ultimately.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I have been fortunate to be at companies that were expanding where I could continually grow, seize opportunities and gain experience. This propelled me into larger, more complex projects and then technical management. But I’ve always been in Financial Technology (FinTech) and mainly on the Capital Markets / Trade Lifecycle space. 

What type of CTO are you? I see my role as CTO more as a curator of fine art, than an artist. There are many smart technologists in my team, our partners and our customers. I leverage my technical experience to act as a conduit between technology and business to drive the best solutions possible not only for today but also the future.

Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? What I’m really excited about is the combination of many emerging technologies that complement each other. In terms of FinTech specifically, DLT (Blockchain) and Artificial Intelligence (including Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing) will most likely have the biggest direct impact in trading, compliance and analytics to make workflows more efficient and gain an edge. But only in concert with many other technologies such as Multi-Cloud, Edge computing, SDN/SD-WAN, data science, machine learning, and analytics. 

Are there any technologies which you think are overhyped? Why? I wouldn’t use the term over-hyped, per se, but probably SD-WAN. It certainly is a powerful network capability that is being adopted, but the marketing hype made it seem like a panacea as opposed to evolutionary.

What is one unique initiative that you’ve employed over the last 12 months that you’re really proud of? Transforming IPC from more of a proprietary, closed platform traditionally to an open platform with an API first philosophy and partner eco-system that drives value to our community. 

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 IPC, we are leading digital transformation for many of customers and the industry we serve. This is rooted in driving superior customer experience, removing friction, increased flexibility, quicker time to market, more analytics, API integration, etc. Driving additional revenue is not our primary focus but can be a nice by-product if you get everything else right. 

What is the biggest issue that you’re helping customers with at the moment? The Financial Industry loves adopting new technologies but is very risk adverse when it comes to operations and compliance. IPC is driving new paradigms that are extensions of our stable platforms, Unigy & Connexus Cloud. This includes trading compliantly anywhere (not a traditional model for traders pre-COVID), SaaS for Capital Markets, multi-cloud, cross-asset class trading, cryptocurrencies, etc. We are creating flexibility while maintaining fundamental services that enable dramatic shifts of landscapes during incredible market volatility. 

How do you align your technology use to meet business goals? IPC has a great feedback loop with our customers, partners and industry analysts. We use these and our domain expertise to ensure that our product roadmap is meeting business goals for both our company and our customers. 

Do you have any trouble matching product/service strategy with tech strategy? It’s a constant effort with new technology and shifting sands. In some ways, the role of a CTO is to separate the wheat from the chaff; just because a technology is great doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your strategy. You have to focus on the business need (the “so what”) before even looking at the technology options (the “how to”). Focusing on both great tech and real-world problems can create a great virtuous circle that addresses wider problems. 

What makes an effective tech strategy? 50 per cent of it is having an eye on how tech is evolving, 50 per cent is having a clear, unfiltered understanding of what today’s tech can actually deliver and 50 per cent is a firm understanding of customer & business needs. And always make sure you double check the math.

What predictions do you have for the role of the CTO in the future? As a digital world, everyone has become a tech expert to some extent. The days of a CTO as a mythical guru is over and CTO’s have to be open to a myriad of great ideas from everywhere and be even more capable to distil this down into the ones that drive the most business value and are actually achievable in the required time horizon. In the future, CTO’s will have to be even better at identifying great potential opportunities from anywhere and think like a Shark Tank investor.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I’ll name two. First, being lead architect of a major network overhaul of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before my 30th birthday. And secondly, leading the team at IPC to build the award winning Connexus Cloud.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Paid more attention in school and what was the question again?

What are you reading now? Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, who is one of my favourite authors. It’s a novel about the dangers of war and propaganda that unfortunately is still relevant today.

Most people don't know that I… Enjoy cooking, although most people know I enjoy eating.

In my spare time, I like to…Spend time with my 3 very active teenage sons who are all into sports and many activities.

Ask me to do anything but… Sing. I know it’s cliché, but definitely true in my case.