2016 Premier 100 Tech Leader: Chris Contakes

As vice president of IT at the Public Broadcasting Service, Chris Contakes led several initiatives aimed at bringing the nonprofit broadcaster and content distributor into the future.

Those projects included the deployment of a new digital asset management system that could scale and evolve to meet PBS's changing needs but also required minimal customization, reducing the maintenance tasks that staffers would have to handle.

In another initiative, the IT team set up a next-generation interconnection system that enabled the broadcaster to more efficiently distribute content to its 170-plus member stations.

Contakes says these and other undertakings succeeded because he and his team conducted pilot tests of the planned systems, collaborated with stakeholders to fully understand the needs of the business side, and worked in an iterative fashion.

Having the right people on board was also important. "The key is having talent that not only is strong technically, but also can partner with the business, understand where the business is going and understand the technology that will get you there," he says, adding that he encourages employees to attend conferences and other industry events to learn about emerging technologies.

In November, the 46-year-old Contakes became vice president of IT and CIO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, where he oversees 60 staffers supporting a global organization of about 1,000.


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