i found the center and Soul of IT – in Atlanta

June 25, 2015

Samir Saini

“We’re no longer simply right here to reduce prices, we’re right here to serve and assist people.”

When Samir Saini, advised me this, I jumped out of my chair and gave him an enormous hi-five.

here was once a government IT govt, in all probability the last individual you’d expect to get it, speaking a reality few IT executives of any kind ever understand. As Samir elaborated—IT isn’t about techniques, infrastructure or reducing costs. it’s about one thing—individuals.

And as Samir informed me his story, I came to peer he doesn’t just talk a good game: he walks the walk.

Samir didn’t begin his occupation in executive work. just a few quick years ago he worked on the high of the company world—grabbing large promotions, enforcing sexy projects, incomes the big bucks—and he gave all of it as much as reconnect with the guts and soul of IT: the use of know-how to make existence higher for his 5.5 million citizen-stakeholders in Atlanta, and the seventy five.9 million vacationers passing via Hartsfield-Jackson Airport every year.

here’s Samir’s story:

growing up in Paramus, NJ, Samir loved playing with know-how as a interest, but he was once more enthusiastic about massive-scale public works initiatives than the latest instrument instruments. as an alternative of going to highschool for computer Science, he chose a degree in Civil Engineering.

proper out of faculty, Samir joined GE and was once fortunate to be positioned into the famous GE IT management program. throughout this time, he labored throughout more than one industry units of GE, including:

  • Environmental well being and security,
  • company advertising,
  • client trade services and products,
  • And a lot of time with the GE Audit team.

GE’s Audit staff supplied Samir his first main position as their functions leader, in Fairfield, Connecticut. There, he oversaw the advance and support of all of the purposes aiding the company Audit operate.

18 months later he was once on to his next major function as a software manager for the GE power Unit. After proving himself for 2 and a half of years with the ability Unit—where he spent considerable time assessing IT investments, determining ROI, creating controls for buying, and overall strategically managing IT and its accountability to business objectives—he was handed a unique chance to take on a Divisional CIO role with GE vitality leases. (on the ripe age of 26.)

CIO was only the start

This position wasn’t just a few usual oversight and implementation function. slightly, Samir was tasked with the virtually unattainable job of consolidating over one hundred fifty world ERP instances down into four, all while constructing out key new capabilities within the gross sales and marketing enviornment for the industry unit’s 33 workplaces across the globe. virtually unattainable, positive, but Samir pulled it off.

At this level, Samir was about 10 years into his profession at GE, and he felt prepared for a metamorphosis. When an offer came in from the CIO of the MGM Mirage to sign up for as a VP answerable for all their corporate methods for their 15 resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, he knew it used to be time to change ships.

once once more at MGM Mirage, Samir put his professional IT training to work consolidating methods, bettering procedures, sharpening governance—all the stuff you’d predict.

however 2+ years into the job, something changed…

And that’s the place the story will get really fascinating.

After more than a decade following the trail of a fast-rising govt, Samir did the unthinkable—he stepped far from the corporate occupation monitor he followed his entire existence. actually, he stepped away from all of it to reconnect together with his core values, leaving the Unites States to explore the sector.

once I asked Samir what brought about him to make this tremendous alternate (because it obviously was once too early for it to be a mid-existence difficulty) he answered:

“i noticed I care about extra than simply getting cash—for myself and for the trade. i noticed i wished to make an actual difference in people’s lives.”

Samir traveled a ways, spending important time in Europe and Latin america. After 18 months of seeing the arena and reconnecting with what mattered most to him, Samir felt able to reengage with the skilled world… however with an awfully different standpoint.

having a look past income

As Samir began to believe opportunities, he knew that the human dimension wanted to factor in as a key component of his subsequent position. And that’s why in August of 2010, Samir familiar the position of SVP & CIO of Atlanta’s Housing Authority (AHA).

The AHA labored towards a singular mandate—revitalize Atlanta’s impoverished communities, and the head of the AHA tasked Samir with applying the whole power of know-how to this challenge of lifting people out of poverty.

Samir started working. He first created an effective technological foundation to support productivity and efficiency at the Atlanta Housing Authority. but more importantly, he used his trade acumen and labored intently with the CEO of the AHA to strategize and put into effect a daring new plan to unravel Atlanta’s housing problems. They partnered with contributors of the private sector to move the city’s hardest-hit voters out of areas of centralized poverty, and into economically mobile communities.

regardless of his fear that his personal-sector upbringing may well be an obstacle to success within the public sector, Samir discovered the other to be authentic. His expertise with earning the trust of his stakeholders, focusing on cost administration, and ensuring IT’s accountability, proved to be essential to growing real exchange inside the public sector.

Stepping up to city corridor

four years of heads down, severe work resulted in a new technique to combating poverty, an method so effective that the Federal executive adopted as coverage, in consequence, Samir was once supplied a brand new, very excessive profile possibility.

In late 2014, Samir commonplace the enormous role of Commissioner and CIO of Atlanta.

Now at metropolis corridor, Samir is as soon as once more putting to work the fundamental rules that made him a hit in the personal sector by way of focusing on serving to individuals.

  • He’s detangling town’s present IT infrastructure, whereas assisting the implementation of Google Fiber, working to guide municipal fiber deployments and provide fortify to the town to allow security and repair improvements.
  • He’s streamlining user get entry to to metropolis packages by means of creating extremely handy online products and services for Atlanta’s voters.
  • Internally, he’s transferring the conversation from “IT as price middle” to “IT as price center” by using reorganizing his department into carrier offerings as a substitute of bills.

Like at the Housing Authority, and his personal-sector positions ahead of, bettering day-to-day lifestyles for his internal and exterior stakeholders is just the beginning. These credibility-builders will present Samir with the platform he must assume bigger and more commonly about how he can very best serve the people who entrusted him along with his place.

finding different IT professionals Who “Get It”

As our dialog got here to an end, I requested Samir “What may I probably do to help you together with your mission?”

He smiled and said:

“lend a hand me to find some senior IT professionals who are moved with the aid of these concepts.

help me find some key IT experts who can take on the position of senior stakeholder managers in order for us to make the town of Atlanta probably the most technologically significant for its citizens.

assist me in finding some IT professionals who get the importance of people and relationships in what we do.”

How might I refuse? each my trade and my personal beliefs revolve around growing folks, relationships and communications. So, on behalf of Samir and the town of Atlanta, I’m achieving out to all of you to believe listening to his call.

  • perhaps you’re feeling as much as the challenge and need to write to him to join his team. for those who do, he’s prepared to hear from you: DITMailbox@atlantaga.gov
  • maybe you feel vindicated to your personal want to make IT serve something more than implementations and finances strains.
  • Or perhaps you’d like to take one minute to crisply define your own skilled values. We’ve put together a simple one-minute task that will help you do just that. click on right here to outline what issues most to you in your profession.

whatever your own unique takeaway, i am hoping this chance to satisfy Samir has helped remind you what matters most… the individuals. we’re the heart and soul of IT.

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