IT Leadership: Investing in People, Values & Client Needs
Vernon Wilson, IT Strategist for MCPc
Photo by Jon Keeling
MCPc is not only a global data protection company, it’s a team that lives up to the mantra of being servant leaders. MCPc has been labeled one of the Top Workplaces in Cleveland and actively supports community activities such as The Cleveland Foundry and Team MCPc, a “cycling for charity” event that has raised over $200,000 to support those with cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. They are working to expand these efforts into their Cincinnati and Columbus markets.
Ranked among the top pecent of data-and-device management companies worldwide, MCPc offers Chain-of-Custody Security Solutions that include Secure Technology Logistics, IT Asset Management, Managed Security Services, and Secure Technology Asset Disposition.
As a Solutions Architect, IT strategist Vernon Wilson uses his abilities at MCPc to find the best business solutions for his clients. His consultant-based operation allows him to meet with clients, get to know them, and present and implement a solution to help them solve business problems and fill in the gaps wherever they may be present.
ComSpark sat down with Mr. Wilson to discuss his leadership position and how, in his business and within his own set of personal values, he sets himself and his team up for success in a competitive and expanding market.
ComSpark: As a leader, why is it so important to invest in people, to invest in the betterment of clients, your team and the community you interact with?
VW: You boil it down to something bigger than technology or business. In being able to lead, empathy is a big thing. You have to be able to build good relationships and understand what’s important. At the end of the day, we need to get the job done but have fun doing it. You also have to hire smart people. To quote Steve Jobs, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” That really resonates with me. I hire the smartest people I can find.
ComSpark: What does that process look like?
VW: I’m open to looking outside the box. I’ve hired multiple automotive technicians and they rock it. Normally, folks that are able to work in that industry have good customer service skills, they understand the importance of finding root cause, and they are typically very trainable. You have to be able to stay up to date with current tech. There are a lot of parallels [between what they do and what we do]. I don’t hire people from just that industry, but I get excited to.
And smart doesn’t necessarily equal IQ. Soft skills are just as important. If someone is coachable, likeable and approachable, I want them. I can train them on everything else. If they have the ability to be coached, bring them on. It’s important to invest in team members. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be valued and heard. And you have to recognize that they aren’t going to be there forever. You have to help those folks, and when the time is right to make a move, I am 100 percent behind them. I’ve turned out multiple IT leaders during my career.
ComSpark: MCPc’s core values are Commitment, Expertise, and Results. What are your own personal values that help you to be a better leader and keep the company’s best interests at the forefront?
VW: My goal is not to be complacent, to always try to innovate. I’ve taken the stewardship role of leading IT departments and consulting very seriously. It’s not a 9-to-5 job you just punch in and out of. You need to strive to get results. Keep yourself abreast of the technologies that are emerging, the technologies that are currently there, and understand how to build bridges. I really try to build a bridge between IT and business.
We are so very much misunderstood, I think, in the business world. Some leaders didn’t grow up with the technology [we now have]. They were already mid-career by the time the technology hit. Some of those folks embraced it; some have seen it as a hindrance. To be able to properly present solutions that will fix that and show the group how to perpetuate growth and stability in the business is important.
ComSpark: What is your strategy to offer the best quality service to meet the needs of your clients?
VW: First and foremost, I have to get a seat at the table. When I say “a seat at the table,” it is any and all business meetings that are led by department leaders and special projects committees. This is very important and, I think, is still a bit new age in IT. I’ve seen a lot of progress in it. But when I first started, IT was very much a custodial type job—you have to keep the lights on, you have to keep the internet working, keep everything connected. But now we’re protecting that. We’re trying to innovate. To be able to do so, you must be able to win the business over, build the trust and get an invitation to those meetings. So, whether it’s an executive meeting talking about a long-term strategy for the business, or whether it’s a specific department just looking at a pet project—if it touches IT, the IT leader needs to be a part of that.
One of my core beliefs in IT is, to be affective you must get a seat at the table.
ComSpark: So, what do you do to get a seat at the table?
VW: You need to find out what the interests of the leaders are. You’ve got an operations leader, a sales leader and a service leader who have very different perspectives. We can all say that they all have a common core, however the method [to reach that common core] will differ quite a bit. Where sales might find something important, operations may not. So, going in fresh I make sure I interview those leaders and understand what’s important to them. I always want to know what the top three things that they like and the top three things that are a hindrance. I’ll take the information, compile it, and look for common denominators that perhaps a piece of software or policy change could affect.
You have to get one-on-one with all leaders individually, collect that data and make sure you mark down what’s important to them. In doing so, you also build that rapport. Once the ice is broken, you must deliver. You must communicate.
ComSpark: What makes Cincinnati a great place to live/work?
VW: Cincinnati is my home. It’s an attractive place to live and work because the community is welcoming and open to outsiders. With movements like comSpark, it’s just growing and getting better. One of the best ways to exchange information is to talk to each other and everything around comSpark really is that. The cost of living is affordable. Even though we complain about the 71/75 traffic, compared to other cities the traffic isn’t so bad. There are great schools. If we could just get rid of these winters, I’d be set!
ComSpark: What advice would you give to future IT strategists in our region?
VW: Get engaged. Whatever it is, whatever your discipline, whatever your goals are, you must be engaged. Be engaged at the IT level. Be engaged at the business level. Be engaged at the community level.
Lift others up. And in turn, you’re going to be lifted up. It’s important to have friends. It’s important to have groups to be able to share knowledge [with]. When something goes right, there’s a group there to help you celebrate. When something goes wrong, there are people there to help pick you up. Regardless of what your industry or career is, or whatever you are doing, that is a human thing that is so important, to be able to have those connections.
MCPc Inc. headquarters is located at 21500 Aerospace Parkway, Cleveland, OH 44142. For more information, call 800.777.7178 or visit www.mcpc.com.