CIO Spotlight: Neil Kole, Boomi

What has been your greatest career achievement? “Fully transitioning Boomi from Dell into a standalone company in just six months.”

Headshot of Neil Kole, CIO at Boomi

Name: Neil Kole

Company: Boomi

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: August 2021

Location: United States

Neil Kole is the Chief Information Officer at Boomi. In this role, Kole is responsible for overseeing the company’s critical IT infrastructure and customer service platforms. With over 20 years of expertise across a variety of IT functions, he comes to Boomi from Cadence Design Systems, where he was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

What was your first job? My first job was as a service valet at a Toyota dealership. I was 16 years old and it was a summer job. I was pursuing my dream (at the time) to own a car dealership. I learned a lot that summer and went on the following year to work at the same dealership selling cars.

Did you always want to work in IT? I got started working in IT by sheer luck. A good friend was an intern at IBM working in their IT department. When he went away to college, I took his job because I was going to school locally. Since then, I’ve spent my entire adult life working in IT.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management from the University of San Francisco.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. As I started my IT career concurrently with my university studies, I got a four-year head start. After 30 months of internship at IBM, I took a full-time IT job at Xerox. At the same time as my college graduation, I became an IT Manager. I never took any detours from my IT career.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Boomi was recently spun out of Dell Technologies. This meant we had to define and implement a complete IT technology stack (Information Security, IT Infrastructure and Applications) in just six months. We will continue to fine-tune our technology stack and look for further opportunities to help drive value and operational efficiency.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? My top priorities include working closely with our sales leadership to showcase the internal use of Boomi products, specifically around how they allow us to be agile and quickly deploy high-quality solutions cost-effectively. Additionally, we view product security as a product differentiator, and we need to more effectively share with prospects and CIO/CISO peers how our operational rigor has allowed us to secure globally recognised compliance certifications.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? Modern companies have digitally transformed nearly every process with an application or system, meaning the CIO role has a very broad purview. I do often hear of requests for IT to define the business process for a solution. I feel strongly that the definition of the business process is the responsibility of the business owner and not IT. Once the process is defined, it becomes IT’s job to come up with options for automating the process using digital tools.

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? Boomi was born in the cloud which means all of our processes were fully digitised from the beginning. We do not own or operate data centers or servers. Everything is in the cloud and leverages our own technology to seamlessly connect everyone to everything, anywhere.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? IT is seamlessly integrated into our business. IT and Info Security engineers work closely with the teams that provision and operate our products to ensure that we continue to provide the highest levels of uptime and performance in the industry.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? At Boomi, we know the power of connections — connections with our peers, our managers, and our mentors. Our team members are the heart of our organisation. Their health, success, and passions are our own. We look out for one another and ensure all of our employees, regardless of level or job description, can enjoy camaraderie and collaboration, bring their authentic selves to work each day, and reach their highest potential.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Cloud and Information Security Engineers are very challenging roles to fill at the moment.

What's the best career advice you ever received? “Management is 90% psychology.”

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Every one of my direct reports is capable of doing my job or the jobs of their peers.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Focus on four things to be a successful IT Leader - 1. Information Security 2. Operational Excellence 3. Innovation and 4. Shareholder Value.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Fully transitioning Boomi from Dell into a standalone company in just six months.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I have no regrets and would not do anything differently.

What are you reading now? Inside Intuit: How the Makers of Quicken Beat Microsoft and Revolutionized an Entire Industry by Kathy Schroeder and Suzanne E. Taylor.

Most people don't know that I… Am a part-time farmer.

In my spare time, I like to…Ride my mountain bike and snow ski.

Ask me to do anything but… Drink a cup of coffee.