CIO Spotlight: Josh Langley, Iron Mountain

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? “Say yes to any opportunity, no matter how challenging. This has served me well as I’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience and learned to get the most difficult programs over the line…”

Headshot of Josh Langley, SVP and CIO at Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain

Name: Josh Langley

Company: Iron Mountain

Job title: SVP and Chief Information Officer

Date started current role: June 2022

Location: Winter Garden, FL

Josh Langley has worked and led teams in custom application development, enterprise architecture, public cloud, and global business platforms for over 20 years. Throughout his career he has led large, strategic digital transformation initiatives focused on simplification, modernisation, and customer experience. He is an avid believer in delivering business value through lean agile teams supported by fact-based decision-making processes. He empowers his teams to move fast, take calculated risks, and adapt to lessons learned along the journey. He feels strongly that an organisation’s two biggest assets are its people and its data, so he creates a culture that values people and data as enablers of success.

What was your first job? My first job was as a customer service associate at a big-box retail chain. I had to wear a shirt and tie to work and was a generalist on the floor, helping customers with all types of questions related to the home goods and electronics we sold. It was a wonderful experience and encouraged my curiosity and a quest for learning new things so I could help our customers make the right decisions at the point of purchase.

Regarding my first IT job, I joined a startup out of college despite having more lucrative offers from larger firms. My rationale was that I would be given more responsibility and gain more valuable experience at a smaller firm. Looking back, this decision was one of the best I’ve made in my career. This early experience, taking on a multitude of roles, really taught me how to perform under pressure while becoming adept at learning quickly and synthesizing those learnings into workable solutions for our clients.

Did you always want to work in IT? When I was younger, I wanted to be a paediatrician even though I always had a very high aptitude for computers and electronics. I first learned to program on my grandfather’s Commodore 64 in BASIC and would just write simple programs. That power to control the PC really sparked a love of technology in me that has never dwindled to this day. When I got to the University of Florida and hit some of the higher level sciences required for pre-med, I was drawn back towards computers, programming, and business.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a BSBA in Decision and Information Sciences from the University of Florida. I also received some technical certifications over the years to remain sharp, including Java, Google Cloud, and Astronomer. While I don’t get to write code too often these days, I enjoy keeping up with my reading and taking courses so I can help my teams think through creative ways to solve some of the challenges they might face.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I have always been on a technology career path, moving from developer to architect, to technology leader pretty quickly across a few different companies in a variety of industries. The most interesting detour I took was going out on my own for a few years before I was married. This allowed me to take on the jobs I wanted as well as take the time off I needed to recharge and focus on my own well being.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? Outside of Iron Mountain Data Center, the business initiatives that will drive the most growth and therefore see the most IT investment are Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM), Digital Solutions, Crozier Fine Arts, and Warehouse & Logistics. Each of these have very unique value propositions for our customers, yet they all have a common underlying technology strategy that allows us to invest in ways that enable security, speed, and business agility.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? At Iron Mountain, we recognise that we are leading from a unique position of strength through strong customer relationships, 70 years of trusted service, and investing to accelerate our growth journey and to capture a greater share of global addressable markets. IT is at the centre of the company strategy, improving how our customers interact with our services. It’s a very exciting time to be a Mountaineer!

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? No, the CIO role at Iron Mountain is well defined and covers everything from IT Strategy, Change Management, and IT Operations to key enterprise platforms like Workforce Identity & Access, Collaboration, ERP, CRM, Data, and Supply Chain & Logistics. In addition, I have the IT governance, control, risk & compliance responsibility for our defence in depth model in partnership with our Information Security & Internal Audit organisations.

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’m leading digital transformation within my portfolio and success is measured in revenue growth, operational efficiency, and customer and employee experience (NPS/eNPS). As CIOs, we sit in unique positions within our companies where we have the ability to drive change and influence revenue growth while also ensuring we are always looking at optimisation and the total cost of IT as a percent of revenue. Lastly, I measure success in how well I’m improving the day-to-day experience for our customers and employees when they are using the services we provide.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Like any large enterprise, we have a mixture of modern and legacy technology, and we are on an evolution to modernise the enterprise through a mixture of rationalisation, new build, and strategic vendor selection exercises. While we are in a good place, we continue to mature every quarter, with our primary focus being on how we enable growth across a few key services and enhance the customer experience and value proposition. We have several KPIs, and we are currently in the process of correlating more data sources into our Enterprise Data Platform to introduce even more IT KPIs to further enhance management and efficiency.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Culture fit within our IT organisation is a critical component of our day-to-day operating model. To me, the most productive, happiest people are those that feel connected to the strategy as well as to those they work with. Our teams are motivated to work harder than ever to transform the Mountain in the best way for our customers; our people are our greatest resource and they want to feel connected, informed, and appreciated. To that end, I try my best to set an example by leading with transparency, empathy, and humour. I make it a point to connect with everyone in the organisation at least once per quarter in open dialogue sessions we call “Chat with Josh.” We typically have these sessions 2-3 days after a town hall meeting so there has been time to digest any information shared. In these sessions, we have very open, honest conversations about the world, the work we do, and how we balance both. I find these to be some of the most challenging yet rewarding conversations I have all quarter.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Given the Enterprise Platforms that I oversee, we continue to find it difficult to find certain specialty skills like Salesforce CPQ, Oracle Cloud, and Manhattan Scale. 

What's the best career advice you ever received? It was still pretty early in my career, but I was advancing and taking on more responsibility across multiple accounts. I began finding it harder to keep up with all of the different domains and technologies I was starting to get introduced to in a very deep, meaningful way as I had done previously when I was on a single account. At the time, my mentor at the time introduced me to the concept of being “T-Shaped” in how I approached learning new skills. He advised me to learn many new things at a surface level depth, enough to help me understand and even lead client sessions. Then pick one of those new skills and do a deep dive on it so I could design processes, architect solutions, write code, etc. After I felt proficient, I rotated the surface level skills and deep dive skill as I saw fit. Over time, this approach led to even more depth in the surface level skills, and allowed me to connect dots in the deep dive skills and explore new areas that I previously missed. I still follow this approach, but I have introduced functional skills into the mix.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. I do have a succession plan – not just for me but for most of my leadership team as well. This is something we talk about often in terms of leadership development on my team. It's very important to identify and cultivate talent at all levels of the organisation. This not only creates opportunities for high performers, but for yourself as well. If you make yourself irreplaceable, then advancement becomes far more difficult. In terms of challenges with training up a high-performing staff, I would just say that everyone is hungry for opportunity and advancement. It’s important to be very open and honest in both group and one-to-one settings to make sure your leadership team is operating from the same page and playbook. Execution and on-time delivery must take precedence over messaging and managing up to senior executives.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Say yes to any opportunity, no matter how challenging. I have been asked to run a number of initiatives and organisations throughout my career by senior leaders and without fail I say yes without really giving it much thought. This has served me well as I’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience and learned to get the most difficult programs over the line by building strong teams and solid plans. More importantly, I’ve been a team player that my leaders can count on. So, my advice to others is to just lean in and say “yes.”

What has been your greatest career achievement? As I look back across my career, so many of my achievements have a common theme, they are the result of building or bringing together a strong team with a strong culture, one willing to take on challenges to achieve a common goal. So I’d have to say the day I got the call and was asked to become the CIO of Iron Mountain has to be my greatest achievement because it represents the culmination of so many years of building strong, high performing teams, which is what we’ve done here at the Mountain.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I would have travelled less when my kids were younger. I know that we didn’t quite have the same virtual presence capabilities back then, but we now see that Monday-to-Friday, in-person meetings are not 100% essential and remote workforces can be high-performing. Given this information, I would have loved to be more present when my two daughters went through so many of their childhood firsts as little kids. I’m very happy that we are able to provide this experience to the Mountaineers of today via our remote and hybrid work opportunities.

What are you reading now? Chip War by Chris Miller

Most people don't know that I… am 25% Japanese. My paternal Grandmother was from Yubari in the Hokkaido prefecture. It’s a bucket list item to take my wife and kids to visit Japan one day.

In my spare time, I like to…play golf (poorly). I picked it up in early2022, and I absolutely love it! I play off a 30 handicap right now out of Bella Collina CC in Monteverde, FL, and I am working hard to improve my game so I can play into old age.

Ask me to do anything but… not sure. You can ask, I just may say no.