StrategITcom was founded on the premise that quality IT services should be accessible to all without exorbitant price tags. At its core is the CTOaaS offering created to allow technology services to be procured in fractional increments a day a week, a day a month, retainer, or for short bursts. StrategITcom offers a range of services, including strategic planning, “XaaS” and space procurement, infrastructure design, project implementation, technical writing, or just some help through a procurement cycle. StrategITcom has an extensive network of resources and partners to bring into any project and are happy to make referrals. The company listens to its customers first and act second. StrategITcom is a proud WOSB and unapologetically committed to 50% female employees, and 50% of partner referrals going to women and diversely owned/veteran owned enterprises.
StrategITcom’s current projects revolve around smart cities, rural healthcare, and energy efficiency deployments. The company has put together a great group of partner companies, including modular data centers, software defined power, edge monetization, security, and a myriad of solutions that enable smart city deployments via a colo on premise model. This model makes deployments affordable and available to cities and enterprises that may not have (nor want) large IT staff all while keeping their data locally. The model is a great equalizer and the solutions bring data centers to the forefront of environmental stewardship poised and ready for autonomy and IoT. The company is also engaged in design work for intelligent buildings, data center white space deployments, and procurement cycles for cloud, colo, and XaaS solutions.
StrategITcom, believes that there is a large segment of the business community that is underserved; thus, it provides big-business services to all of its customers regardless of size. The company is committed to providing excellence and anything less is not acceptable.
An Insightful Leader
Carrie Goetz is the Principal/CTO of StrategITcom. She personifies nearly 40 years of global experience designing, running and auditing, data centers, IT departments, and intelligent buildings. She is an international keynote speaker and has been published in 69 countries in over 250 publications. Carrie holds an honorary doctorate in Mission Critical Operations, RCDD/NTS, PSP, CNID, CDCP, CSM-Agile, AWS CCP, and is a Master Infrastructure Mason with 40+ certifications throughout her career. She is on the WIMCO national education committee and a long-time participant in 7×24 Exchange, AFCOM and Data Center Institute board of advisors, Mission Critical Advisory Board, Women in Data Centers, Cnet Technical Curriculum Advisory Board, Vice Chairwoman and Liaison for STEM for AATCU, the college and women outreach officer for ASIS, a member of BICSI and Women in BICSI. As a champion for STEM education and diversity in tech, her podcast series, “Careers for Women, Trades and Veterans in Tech,” interviews people highlighting various careers across IT and data centers. She is a frequent industry mentor. She holds one telecommunications patent and has submitted two others.
Carrie has worked across the IT spectrum, including programming, designing, consulting, pre/post-sales engineering, and running large IT organizations. This global experience provides a unique perspective to StrategITcom’s clients to collaborate through all phases of a project from procurement through implementation.
Making Technology Better
At a recent industry event, where Carrie was asked to provide a keynote, she noticed one of the other women shared a quote saying, “You should be the kind of a woman that fixes another woman’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.”, it sums up her management style as she facilitates growth. She says, the problem in many companies today is the culture of fear that stifles innovation. Carrie tries to be the kind of manager who encourages creative thinking. She believes if a challenge is given along with the support needed, results will be amazing every time. She thinks that one has to be what they expect and give praise and credit where due. She launched her philanthropic activities around STEM, diversity and inclusion, and women in tech.
Carrie started as one of the few women in the IT industry. She doesn’t want that to be the industry she leaves someday and believes in a responsibility to make tech better. The attrition rate for women in IT is currently 67%, which is horrible. Requiring degrees for every job is not beneficial and prohibits entry for many. Currently in the US, only 35% of the population has at least a four-year degree. Carrie says, she would much rather have someone with experience on her team. People learn in different ways, and more often than not, women become caregivers and are forced to drop out of school or work. That certainly does not mean that they would not be good employees. Likewise, some people don’t have accessible education but could be fantastic with some on the job training. All of these varied backgrounds provide a diversity of thought that is impossible if everyone only learns one way. So, she would say that her best experiences involve people of varied backgrounds and thought formulations. She considers herself blessed having over 4 million miles and a massive extended family around the globe, that she wouldn’t trade knowing for anything. It certainly has made her a better person, and her job knowledge has grown in equal measures.
Learning to Succeed Amidst Challenges
The biggest challenge Carrie has faced was learning to promote herself. That is something many women struggle with, not being taught to do so. Like many women, Carrie struggled to formulate a balance between home responsibilities and work, and as such, she felt a need to put in the extra effort. She says, women often take up the slack for others, and don’t always get recognized for the effort. She has also struggled with saying, “no.” She believes that there have been times when downtime would have been welcome and freely admits she should have taken more of it throughout her career. She encourages her mentees to keep a log of accomplishments. Over the years, one may forget them, but it is always a good practice to go back over them and remind oneself of them.
Leadership for Transformation
Carrie shares the following keys to transformational leadership-
- Get rid of the culture of fear. It stifles innovation, leads to a lack of self-satisfaction, and creates disloyalty.
- Make employees feel valued. Extend that to their families when possible.
- Don’t hire diverse people and expect them to assimilate into your way of thinking. It defeats the purpose. Encourage them to speak their minds and be sure that everyone at the table is heard.
- Understand that employees have lives outside the office. Be flexible so that they can take care of both worlds.
- The best thing one can do is to have an employee get promoted. Foster growth and help someone feed their family just a little better.
- Admit and own failures; learn from them.
- Learn how and when to strategically say no.
Products that Appeal to the Audience
Carrie believes that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. One has to listen to goals before putting forth any solution. Strategic and technology planning are core competencies and one has to expect that process to be iterative. We believe in helping our customers find the best solution based on current technology. One vendor may not be the best vendor always. Outcome expectations, budgets, and all can change. The solution is different for every customer based on their company goals and needs. We have built an extensive partner network to allow us to serve a broad scope of needs both in house and through that network. Our key product is probably flexibility. Every project and every company is different.
Making IT Smarter
When Carrie started her career years ago, IT was considered a necessary evil. Today, it is the cornerstone of most businesses. There is also an increased responsibility when more emphasis is put on data. That increases again when one expects intelligence out of the data. It has been proven that AI carries with it the prejudices of the programmers. Moving forward, diversity is needed to combat this. Carrie is also a firm believer that all of the available solutions are tools in a toolkit. There is NO one size fits all. The worst decisions are made in a vacuum or when some CEO reads a magazine article and decides a future without full consideration of the options and impacts. Buzzwords have gotten many in trouble in the industry. They tend to be all-encompassing and carry little meaning, cloud is a great example. A company needs to start with a statement of outcome and work backward on a case by case, application by application basis towards the best platform and solution.
She further adds, most companies will have multiple solutions across their IT spectrum. When implementing anything new, a good leader will listen to their employees but must temper that voice with the understanding that they will promote what is in their frame of reference and may carry some bias (conscious or not). That bias may come from incumbent vendors when a better solution is outside. Carrie is a firm believer in the RFI cycle which many companies now skip. It is a great way to pick the brains of a wide variety of companies and learn the best features and functionality, even ones you didn’t originally consider. She has often seen the RFI cycle lead to something substantially different than the original thought process, in that instance the old saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know,” comes to her mind. RFIs are also a great way to bring procurement into the process not just as a pricing outsider, but as a part of the solutions team as a more educated evaluator.
Carrie also thinks that there may be some reluctance to adoption of technologies like machine learning, AI and automation for fear of putting someone out of a job. But in reality, these technologies free people up from mundane, learnable, repetitive tasks to be more strategic thinkers for a company. It frees up time for talent to broaden their frame of knowledge and learn new enabling technologies and business outcomes. As for data, as a leader in tech, not only the location of the data, but the security of the data in all locations is imperative. Shadow IT remains a concern. In short, IT is becoming more of an enabler regardless of location and in the absence of chief data officers those in charge become the stewards of data.
Insights into the Future
At StrategITcom, learning is embraced and the company is looking forward to growing its portfolio as the customers dictate. Carrie expects the company’s direction to be iterative as well. While the core services will remain, the direction those services take will be at the direction of those StrategITcom serves.
As an industry, Carrie thinks that environmental stewardship will be demanded. The data center industry is not the best at power utilization. It has about 35% stranded power across the board as an average of many studies. But this is not acceptable or sustainable long–term. Renewables have a play, but better management of power is paramount and that includes stranded power. The amount of redundancy is going to be heavily scrutinized moving forward. “Just double everything” is wasteful in both capital and operating expenditures.
“There is a long way to go with regards to diversity and inclusion and skills-based hiring is paramount to success. While degrees are certainly great, curriculum development is a slow-moving machine and IT has outpaced it time and time again”, Carrie adds. She is convinced that a new wave of certification and skills will take the forefront. For that to work, HR will need to lead the change.
Advice to Emerging Leaders: Network to Succeed
For budding women leaders, Carrie advices them to network, network, network. Carrie states, 85% of jobs are still filled through networking and there is no need to be afraid to branch out. Women leaders must seek out mentors and most importantly, sponsors. “Heed the advice above. Toot your own horn! Most importantly, pay it forward. Be a voice to the next generation. Most children decide a career by the time they are 6-8. Show them what a career can look like as you grow in yours. Be a cultivator. Be humble, gracious, and grateful,” she asserts.