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Columbia Business Monthly

2018 SC CIO Awards

Dec 07, 2018 10:09AM ● By Kathleen Maris
Integrated Media Publishing and AcumenIT are pleased to announce the 2018 recipients of the South Carolina CIO Awards. The winners were named Thursday, Nov. 1, at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia. Among those winners, one recipient was honored with a CIO Lifetime Achievement Award and three received Judge’s Choice Awards.

The awards recognize South Carolina-based CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, VPs of information technology, IT directors, etc. Recipients were selected by a team of external judges that reviewed nomination forms and scored based on a series of answers. The scores were averaged, which determined the top recipients.


Charles Bennett 
Spartanburg
Smith Drug Co.
VP Information Technology


Smith Drug Co. serves more than 1,400 customers, offering wholesale pharmaceutical distribution, home medical equipment, and other medical products. The company works with long-term care facilities and regional hospitals as well as independent pharmacies. 

Charles Bennett has played a key role in the extensive IT growth of the company. He’s led the integration and upgrade of enterprise resource planning of Burlington Drug Co. with Smith Drug Co., as well as warehouse and ecommerce systems. Burlington Drug Co. became a subsidiary of Smith Drug in 2017. He also managed the set-up of a third ecommerce system that supports a new Integral-RX program and oversaw bringing a new distribution center online this year, along with a new office network and warehouse automation system. 

Bennett is an active participant in strategic planning and senior executive team operations, where he helps discuss, plan, and analyze projects and their ROI. He offers valuable guidance and an innovative perspective on what technologies are needed for the company to meet its strategic goals.

Smith Drug Co. has created a culture that values new technology and, with the expertise of Bennett and his team, uses that technology to assist employees, customers, and business partners in becoming more efficient and successful. 

During Bennett’s tenure, the IT team has grown from nine members to more than 20, with three managers overseeing network operations, web applications, and pricing software solutions. His biweekly meetings ensure the team is working towards the company’s goals and objectives. 

Outside of work, Bennett is active with his church and travels to developing countries each year to help build housing. He also volunteers regularly with the Carolina Miracle League through Smith Drug’s partnership with the organization.


 
Adrian Brown 
Columbia
Seibels Insurance Technology and Services
Chief Risk Officer and Chief Information Officer


Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Empowering the decisionmaker has to be the focus. Using data to ensure that the full impact of a decision is known and being able to model decisions in multiple scenarios strengthens the decisions that people make. Taking the time-consuming tasks and applying automation has freed up more time to work on the things that matter. Technology facilitates communication and transparency, which also improves decision-making.
 
What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
When I was directed to crossfoot 28 columns and over a thousand rows of numbers, I knew that I had to get on the computer. Computers are just machines and I have always loved working with machines.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
Curiosity, ingenuity, determination, and the ability to take in and analyze data, which includes listening, are all key attributes. Languages, operating systems, and hardware can all be learned. Understanding the business/operational needs and focusing on delivering tools that can and will be used is something that I look for when hiring people. Engaging team members on projects where this is clearly the focus provides examples and lets people make a difference. 
 
How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field?
Truly a wonderful age we live in for technology. There are excellent business journals and blogs where technology is always featured. There are excellent IT journals and science journals where current and future tech is analyzed. Conferences and symposiums, vendor-specific and general, abound. Colleagues and my staff are great sources. People tend to specialize, so talking to the specialists is always rewarding. Finding people with a passion for what they do and are often anxious to go to the next level—listening to them is enlightening.
 
What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?
Get the fundamentals down and then determine that technology will not be the reason that you cannot solve a problem or succeed. Technology will be a tool to help you make people more productive, your company more successful, and help you solve problems. Listening and being able to understand the other’s point of view will help you give people what they need.


 
William (Bill) Brown 
Greenville
Greenville County Schools 
Executive Director, Educational Technology Services
*Judge's Choice Award Winner


How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?
Becoming data-driven can be a major cultural change, as you will have some that feel the older methods still work well. You can use data to shape the culture within an organization to embrace big data adoption. As data volumes and the number of data sources increase, many have been forced to plan for a data-driven future. Once confidence is established with the integrity of the data, the older methods become less of an issue.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
The most important skill, sometimes a skill that cannot be taught, is customer service. Other soft skills are also very important, such as attendance, writing, and listening, to name a few. Technical skills can be taught and since technology is always changing, these skills are constantly evolving. We look for IT workers that bring to the table outstanding customer service skills with enough technical skills to be successful.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?
The confidentiality, integrity, and availability of our data is paramount for successful day-to-day operations. We have implemented ISO 27001, which is a framework of processes and procedures to protect against the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability in any form. We require all employees to view a video with regards to our ISO 27001 implementation, along with additional internet safety training that discusses phishing and other methods of cyber attacks. It is imperative that all organizations conduct end-user internet safety training.

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
In 1976, when I was in high school, our first computer-type device was a teletype that connected to a computer using a modem. We would write simple programs using the teletype. I was more intrigued with how it worked than programming. Many times, I would repair it when the ribbon broke and the tape was jammed. I’ve been interested in technology ever since.

What’s a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?  
The most popular misconception about my job is that I have a 9 to 5 job. Working in information technology is a 24-hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job. Work follows you home and is never-ending. Projects are implemented or deployed after hours, on weekends, or over holidays.


 
Michael Caputo 
Charleston 
MUSC Health 
Chief Information Officer
*CIO Lifetime Achievement Award Winner


What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings? 
Data integrity is a critical component in making good decisions. As we started to leverage analytics, we quickly discovered that we had underlying data issues. Since then, we have created a chief data officer position with a team that focuses on fine-tuning some of the issues surrounding data structure and integrity. Essentially, data needs to be the source of truth.  

Now, that being said, data is just one piece of the decision-making process. It should be used to guide decisions but not be the sole factor. In fact, it needs to be balanced with a non-data component for a more holistic approach to the decision-making process. 
 
What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team? 
In today’s environment, information security and data analytics are the topmost focus areas for acquiring a skilled workforce. We are in constant competition with other companies, so creating pipelines and nurturing our talent through internships and professional development is key. We continue to foster an innovative culture around the workplace for our people to succeed and grow with the organization.  
 
What are the ingredients for successful IT governance? 
In a nutshell, we need active engagement from organizational leadership. Governance is certainly not something you do once a year to set your priorities. It is something you have to come back to and review, as priorities change, to align with IT governance as things evolve over the course of the fiscal year.  
 
How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems? 
Our department has adopted the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework. As part of the initiative, we have created the role of solutions consultants who actively engage with other departments to ensure we are involved early in the conversation. This allows us to influence and engage with our enterprise towards a better solution. 
 
What’s a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?  
There is an assumption, sometimes, that there should be an easy technological solution available in healthcare. However, the reality is that it is a highly complex environment at an academic medical center and solutions are often not as easy as we might like. 


 
Tom Carr 
Greenville
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS
Director of Information Technology


These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?
It’s not too hard to convince our agent to use data, especially the kind we can provide regarding home sales activity and pricing. And management is becoming more responsive to the internal data we can provide detailing agent performance, etc.

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?
I think most leaders get it now that technology is no longer one department, but really permeates everything most companies do, and as such IT has to be factored into decisions throughout the organization.

Who or what do you turn to when you need advice or help to solve a problem?
Google! I’m a one-man show, so when I get stuck, I rely on Google to help me find the answer. Somewhere, someone’s run into the same issue and been kind and helpful enough to document the solution.

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?
Try as many different areas as you can—web design, networking, app design, database admin, etc.—so you get a feel for what you’d like to concentrate on.


 
Jeff DeLong 
Columbia
South State Bank
Executive Vice President, CIO
*Judge's Choice Award Winner


These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?
William Edwards Deming, the famous American engineer and statistician, once said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” He said this way before “big data” or “business intelligence” concepts were even formalized. There’s no doubt about it: the efficient use of good quality data can provide decision makers with relevant context upon which to base decisions. One challenge organizations face today is how to gain meaningful insights from the data being produced at an unprecedented rate within their IT systems. Ultimately, IT has a role in providing reliable mechanisms for the business to make sound, data-driven decisions. Providing these mechanisms begins with understanding the questions most relevant to the lines of business and is followed by architecting repeatable reporting methodologies to help produce answers. When this is done well, our people become more efficient and confident in their decision-making.

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision-making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Data is a powerful tool, and good reporting can reveal meaningful insights based upon the questions being asked. However, getting the right answers to the wrong questions can ultimately lead to undesirable results. I find it helpful to begin with the business problem you are trying to solve, generate the questions most relevant to the problem, then identify data sets that would most likely lead the team to produce relevant answers. The efficient use of good quality data can provide decision-makers with relevant context upon which to base decisions. That being said, data provides context, not answers. Even the best reporting will only get you so far. Teams must analyze results and validate assumptions through a variety of means to ensure effectiveness.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
Technology in general is changing, and the lines between business and technology are blurring. While strong technical skills are a must, soft skills are becoming increasingly important. Digital transformation is forcing every company to re-evaluate how their organizations are structured and how products and services are delivered to support the business. 

South State’s regional presence within the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia provides us with a large talent pool from which to draw. While we do attract and recruit quality talent externally, we have also found great success in promoting candidates from within and even across business lines. We seek to hire technology team members who possess the ability to understand and solve business problems, as opposed to only having the ability to install and configure a software solution. Both skill sets are essential, but having a solution-oriented mindset is arguably more desirable. That said, we also place a premium on continuous skills development—both technical and business-related. It’s this commitment to employee growth that makes South State an attractive employer and provides a win-win for the company and the employee.


 
Brandon Herring
Greenville  
Armada Analytics
Vice President, Technology


Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
There will always be that gut instinct. The day you lose that is the day your career turns into a job. Past experience and trends can reveal to you things the data can’t show you.
 
How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?
In finance, we have to be aware of the multiple ways someone could get access to our data, from rogue access points to machines on our networks we don’t know about. We often brainstorm about theoretical and hypothetical situations, then run through those scenarios to make sure we have our bases covered. 

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
Personality! IT people seem to get this stereotype of the basement-dwelling comic book reader. In order to be successful, you have to break that stereotype and be bold. A willingness to help goes a long way. I’ve seen so many people live with IT issues because the support guy is a jerk or has to look up things in a manual before giving any advice, and it’s usually wrong. Stay current with technologies that you use. Read up on known issues. Search community message boards for trending issues and fixes before they hit you.

When I hire, I look for a true desire to work in the IT field. Some have heard it’s a place to go to make money, and while that’s true, it can attract the wrong people. I want people on my team that love what they do, not their paycheck.
 
How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field?
Read, read, read. Microsoft puts out a lot of news on their products in the form of roadmaps and the admin message center. Staying on top of those topics can help you prepare for major changes ahead. There are also countless blogs on the latest threats, the latest development trends, and the latest security trends. You never stop learning in this field.
 
What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
When I bought my first computer. I got online with MSN dial-up and a whole new world opened to me. Three days later, my new computer was in the shop with 26 viruses. I decided then I was going to fight these people to make sure this would never happen again.


 
Hank Jibaja 
West Columbia
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation
Chief Information Officer


What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
Coding, reading, and writing are some of the most important skills in the IT department. These skills are how we in IT communicate with our peers and customers.

What are the ingredients for successful IT governance?
Successful governance in IT comes from: involvement, empathy, creativity, and commitment to staying focused on any mission received from the CEO.

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?
I speak with these persons daily, always in terms of what the business requires. I never speak in IT tech speech to my managers because they cannot benefit from that type of language. Speaking in terms of our specific business, strategy, compliance, etc. are the ways to make senior managers think deeply about their roles.  

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
I was working at a hedge fund, and I realized I really did not like accounting nearly as much as I liked the technology the hedge fund developed for their management strategies. I learned then I preferred to work with technology and I was pretty good at it.

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?
There are so many software programs for training young people how to code. Go online and look for platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Agilic, for example. Start with simple examples and try your own implementations. The best software developer I know told me you have to make 10,000 mistakes before you can learn to code. Also, get an old computer, take it apart, and put it back together and make it work. 


 
Daniel P. Johnson
Greenville 
Renewable Water Resources
Director of Information Technology


Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
ReWa understands that our people make up our workforce, and not every decision can be purely based on data analytics. Demonstrating emotional intelligence is just as important for ReWa leadership as the ability to analyze the spreadsheets.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
In addition to expecting each team member to demonstrate ReWa’s core values (i.e. accountability, dedication, integrity, trust, professionalism, safety, and unity), we believe it’s critical to develop “IT service ownership” in addition to technical capability.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?
ReWa has significantly improved its security posture in the past year from a technology point of view. However, employees can either be our front line of defense or an unwitting vulnerability. When it comes to security-awareness training, we focus on changing specific behaviors that reduce the risk of attack (i.e. attackers may send phishing attacks to personal email accounts hoping an employee checks their personal email during a lunch break).

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?
We’ve created an IT governance structure that requires our key IT staff to formally meet with our business partners and understand their business drivers. However, implementing technology solutions isn’t typically the big lift, but rather changing the behavior of the organization to use the technology in a way that achieves the desired business outcomes.

What’s a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?
Just because someone works in the IT department doesn’t mean they are the best person to fix your computer. Personally, my job involves thought leadership, strategic planning, communication, budgeting, personnel management, contracting, vendor management, etc.


 
Andy Patel 
Florence
HillSouth iT Solutions
Chief Technology Officer


Andy Patel has led HillSouth’s efforts as it passed its very first SOC 2 audit by an independent CPA firm. The SOC 2 standard sets a very high bar and ensures that HillSouth’s clients receive the most secure and reliable services that can be independently reviewed annually. The SOC 2 report evaluates an organization’s information systems for “trust service principles” including security, availability, processing integrity, and confidentiality or privacy. 

HillSouth is an IT consulting firm that focuses on healthcare organizations and small and mid-sized businesses, leveraging technologies that are physical, virtual, hybrid, or cloud-based. The company delivers services on-site with customers’ existing infrastructure or through its own state-of-the-art datacenter. 

Because of Patel’s extensive efforts, HIllSouth’s customers can tell their insurers that their provider is SOC 2 audited annually, which helps lower risk factors associated with potential cyber-liability insurance premiums, as well as other benefits to customers. Patel worked closely with every department in the business to achieve the goal, which ensured that the datacenter remains competitive against the largest national and international competitors. 

As CTO, Patel focuses on enterprise storage solutions, advanced routing/switching, and virtualization technologies. He also is responsible for high-level design, testing, and implementation as well as managing the daily operations of the IT group. 

In 2016, Patel led efforts to launch one of the company’s most requested services: independent log monitoring and retention. Researched, tested, and designed in-house over the course of a year, the service formed the basis for the company’s plans to transform into a managed security services provider (MSSP). Log files are retained at the customer’s office and then moved to a HillSouth secured facility, where they are analyzed and monitored for suspicious activity. In the unlikely event of a breach, the log monitoring service allows customers to verify which data might have been compromised, if any. 

Patel is also a member of the Forbes Technology Council, an organization for senior-level technology executives, and has volunteered with the United Way of Florence County.


 
Marty Stewart  
Anderson
AnMed Health 
Chief Information Officer


These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide? 
With the development of electronic health record systems 20 years ago, physicians and clinicians quit using paper and needed to be encouraged to use the new computerized systems. Sometimes it was difficult to convince them to use these systems; however, adoption of computer systems is no longer an issue. Current and younger generations of physicians and clinicians know these systems assist in providing better care, quality, and outcomes in the treatment of their patients across the continuum of care. Today, data from the IT systems is used to continuously monitor and make necessary changes to ensure our organization is meeting the many safety and quality metrics to make sure we are providing excellent care to our patients.

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Providing data is a powerful tool; however, data validation is a crucial step to be completed as part of decision-making. Other factors required for decision-making besides data include market analysis, financial impacts, improving patients’ experience, and minimizing organizational risk.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
We have a variety of positions within our IT department, some of which requiring specialized training or certifications. However, the approach we use most frequently is to hire people with great attitudes who want to be team players, have a willingness to learn, and who also have several years of IT experience. We offer both internal training and specialized vendor training for all staff including new hires to develop his/her skills to support the infrastructure and applications he/she is assigned to manage and support. AnMed Health also offers tuition assistance for those who want to obtain college degrees. We encourage our staff to take advantage of this benefit.

What are the ingredients for successful IT governance?
The ingredients for successful IT governance include collaboration among interdisciplinary teams, project prioritization, focusing on strategic organizational initiatives, measuring and mitigating risk to the organization, and strong and effective communication at all levels of the governance structure.


 
Morgan Willingham 
Travelers Rest
Quality Business Solutions, Inc.
Operations Manager/Director of IT


Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Whenever I evaluate data of any kind, I always keep in mind the best interest of QBS, my team, and our clients. When looking for new integrated platforms, we always take into consideration the end users, as well as how it will make their lives easier. We are a very service-oriented company, and we never make decisions based on data alone; we always consider the human side of every decision and we utilize the data to assist us in evaluating different scenarios. 

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?
Every year, QBS goes through an intense SOC audit. This audit ensures we are doing everything necessary to protect our processes and data. We have also partnered with an amazing networking company that is always looking out for our data. Anytime there is news of a data breach by any external organization or vendor, we try to send out information both internally and externally, letting everyone know how to best protect their information.

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew they would help determine your path?
As a young adult, I realized how central technology would be to both my generation and generations to come—and I wanted to be ahead of the curve. Also, both of my parents have worked in the technology arena in one way or another.  My mom is the technology teacher for Northwest Middle School. and my dad (retired from law enforcement) works to set up networking and phone systems for businesses, along with his many other traits. 

In my first “real job” as a payroll manager, I wanted to know the ins and outs of our systems and why each function did what it did. When the systems would have issues, I wanted to be a part of the solution to fix it. Since that time, and as I’ve grown within QBS, I’ve been drawn toward the IT world. I’ve worked heavily with technology and systems, which I love and in which I thrive. As QBS’s IT director and operations manager, I have the best of both worlds. 

What’s a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?
That all IT directors/CTO/CIOs know how to “fix” all computer issues.


 
David M. Zendzian
Bluffton  
Pivotal 
Global Chief Technology Officer,  Compliance and Security


These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?
This is one of the main reasons I moved over to Pivotal. The entire work culture is based around modern technology and tech workflows. Everything is agile and based on the idea of rapid validation of assumptions and continuous deployments and integrations. Our goal is to help share the Pivotal way with our customers and the world—to use modern cloud and tech tools so that they can change the world. 

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn’t the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?
Rapid validation of assumptions. Instead of taking 12-18 months from idea to validation in the old waterfall and business development process, rapidly iterate through deployments so you can initially release in months and iterate through continuous releases daily, validating with customers and users that the services and features developed are what is needed.   

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?
One of the most important is listening and communicating, which goes hand in hand with cultural integration. Skills can be taught, especially with team members who want to be there to grow and learn. 

How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field?
Lots and lots of reading. The same group of peers I ask advice of also asks back, so there are constant new ideas and problems being shared, which leads to more research and reading. I also subscribe to a few podcasts such as Security Weekly, Southern Fried Security, SANS, and Down the Security Rabbithole.

What’s a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?
That when we are fighting online attacks, it’s not like a video game or fancy flashy interface. It’s not like the movies. 

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?
Follow your passion. Be sure to put the effort in to be the best you can with anything you use. If it’s Windows or Linux or anything else, learn as much about it as you can and then learn more! Have patience and remember to get outside and take a break every once in a while, too.
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