When I started writing this message at the beginning of 2020, I had no idea what the year would bring. Like most CIOs I was focused on updating our strategy documentation and locking in the budget for the next fiscal year. At Innovate@UCLA we were busy planning our Spring event and reviewing recommendations from our Women in Tech Task Force. I remember talking with one of my team members about everything happening in China. How they were completely shut down and his family was not allowed to even leave their homes there. It seemed very far away, but we started talking about what it would take to support the entire company working from home anyway. Then came the stories out of more and more countries and that’s when we started working on expanding our remote worker capabilities. And like most companies, we made it happen. It took a lot of hard work and patience along with some really clever and dedicated people, but we did it.
This has already been a year of triumph for IT teams across the globe in every industry. With only a few days of notice we successfully pivoted to support legions of workers from home, trained everyone on video conferencing, and explained countless numbers of times how to work with your internet provider to get better bandwidth. We learned that not only was it possible to work from home, but in many ways it was better. People were more efficient, and teams were actually getting closer and technology was once again the great equalizer, breaking down barriers and empowering everyone. The truth is that when there are tough challenges, leaders look to IT teams and technology for answers.
At Innovate@UCLA, we’ve also had to pivot and learn to conduct our business in a virtual world. If you talk to our members what they will tell you is that the number one reason they joined Innovate@UCLA was for the networking. Our membership consists of pretty much the who’s who of SoCAL technical talent. We cover every industry and pretty much every size and type of company. It’s an amazing group of people who love what we do, so when you have a question or need help, your Innovate@UCLA friends are here for you. And then there is also UCLA. Our secret sauce is our access to UCLA professors, students and research. If you want to learn about tech and the future of tech, Innovate@UCLA should be your first stop. We are looking at this new on-line, virtual world as an opportunity to take our programming and our network to the next level. Because after all, it may be a while before we all gather at UCLA again.
As the Executive Board Chair for 2020, I can’t wait to figure out what the “new normal” for the workplace will be, but I know that my colleagues at Innovate@UCLA will be out there leading the way. On behalf of Innovate@UCLA, we invite you to join us on this exciting journey.
2020 Chairman, Innovate@UCLA