Today's CIOs are student advocates
- Higher ed CIOs meet business needs by improving efficiencies
- Good IT leaders affirm the work of their team
- Stepping into the student role helps CIOs improve the student experience
Q: How would you describe the role of the CIO in higher education?
A: The current CIO role now stands as a solutions enabler, as a provider that can help his or her educational institution stand out from its competitors by providing students with consumer-grade experiences. Meaning, the CIO implements new technology that meets student expectations, allowing them to access any information they need at any time on any device.
At Insurgentes University, our students do not have to go to any of our 25 campuses to conduct administrative tasks. Everything can be done from their phones. They can make payments; re-register; check their academic records, grades, and balances; and even have access to the library services. That is how we’re meeting the needs of hyper-connected students, by providing a comprehensive digital portal for student services.
Q: Why is it important for CIOs to participate in the institution's business strategy?
A: The CIO and the IT department are the bridge that links students' needs to institutional services. CIOs are ideally positioned to suggest more efficient ways of working, that maximize the value of technology investments to affect digital transformations that not only enhance operational and financial performance but increase personalized attention to students.
Q: What makes a good IT leader?
A: A good IT leader is a person who reminds the people around him—his work team—to give their utmost effort, affirming that their work is for the benefit of their students. Students are at the center of everything we do at Insurgentes, so I constantly reinforce for my staff how their daily list of tasks benefits our students.
Q: What can IT leaders do to have a greater impact on campus?
A: Talk with students to understand their primary requirements and how we as administrators can meet their daily needs. I find that it is easier to find solutions that improve student life when an I put myself in the role of the student.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you became a CIO?
A: I would have preferred more time to get to know the detailed processes of each department. Many times, with the intense pressure that universities face and the complexity of the implementation processes, you miss critical components. I would have liked to have had time earlier in my professional life to learn the details so I could have prevented some situations where projects ended up with things undone or invalidated.
Q: What advice would you give an aspiring CIO?
A: The most important advice is to follow your instincts and, even more, to develop a sixth sense. Many times, we become afraid to implement, innovate, or challenge what is already done. We must stop being afraid to do new things.