In this week’s episode of The Breakout Growth Podcast, brought to you by SAP, Sean Ellis and Ethan Garr speak with GS Jha, who serves as both Global Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at Accuray, a manufacturer of radiotherapy technologies.
When you hear GS’s story it’s evident where his passion for life sciences comes from. As a child growing up in India, GS saw firsthand the impacts of poor access to medicine on his community.
And while he thought that his contributions to world health might be as a doctor, ultimately his path led to a place where infrastructure and business converged. That intersection is a key reason why GS feels he can be a catalyst for growth at Accuray in his role as CIO.
From GS’s perspective, success depends on aligning the systems he manages with the goals of both the company and the individuals who drive it forward. And what connects these things together is creating value for customers.
So we think you will enjoy this discussion as you hear why even as CIO, GS sees engaging with oncologists directly as an important part of his role, and why everything from his hiring approach to his considerations for systems and infrastructure is informed by a larger mission to save lives.
Before you jump in, learn more about SAP’s cloud solutions for mid-size enterprises at sap.com/sme. If you have ambitious goals, SAP is the technology partner you need to scale and drive innovation. Instead of relying on stitched-together solutions to manage business finances, operations, HR, suppliers, and customer relationships, leverage the flexibility of SAP’s cloud-based ERP solution to gain the insights that will help drive your breakout growth success.
Achieve breakout growth success now with SAP at bit.ly/3UUPDxJ
Thanks for listening to the Breakout Growth Podcast, and don’t forget, to watch us and subscribe on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-K_CY4-IrZ_auEIs0j97zA/featured
* On a mission to deliver lifesaving technologies (04:21)
* CIO vs. CTO, what are the differences (07:33)
* How IT functions to unlock a business’ potential (11:31)
* The challenges and importance of driving alignment (27:19)
* Hiring technology people to drive growth (33:11)
* Learning from customers, directly (33:56)
And much, much, more . . .
Announcer 00:00:08 Welcome to the Breakout Growth Podcast, where Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar interview leaders from the world’s fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what’s really driving their growth. And now here are your hosts, Sean Ellis and Ethan Gar.
Sean Ellis 00:00:26 All right. In this week’s episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast, Ethan Garr and I chat with GS Jha, Global Chief Information Officer, and Chief Information Security Officer at Accuray. So, if one C-Suite role sounds challenging to you, imagine having two. But kidding aside, this proved to be a really fun and engaging discussion. Accuray is a manufacturer of radiotherapy technologies, and their products are literally helping cancer patients all over the world live longer. So can’t imagine a more important mission than that. And, uh, what we learned in this one is that the infrastructure and systems underlying a business like Accurays aren’t just playing a supporting role in their operations. They’re really foundational to growth. So, Ethan, is that, was that your take as well?
Ethan Garr 00:01:11 Yeah, for sure. I mean, one of the things that, for you and I, Sean, seems to just be recurring is that when we talk to people outside of what we think of sort of those traditional growth tracks like product or marketing or design, we’re often, you know, surprised by just how connected those people are to growth. Um, I mean, our chat with Sandeep Chouksey a few, a few weeks ago is a really great example. I think it struck a chord for both of
Sean Ellis 00:01:32 Us. Yeah. So if you missed that one, he’s Harry’s,CTO and it was really eye-opening to learn how he sees his team and, and really his entire role as existing to drive Harry’s go-to-market strategies and in directly powering growth. So if you hadn’t told me he was a cto, I probably would’ve guessed he was a growth or a product guy.
Ethan Garr 00:01:55 Yeah, exactly. And I think this conversation with GS from Accuray was, was similar. I mean, you know, this is a guy who’s actually going out and doing the work to speak to customers who in their case are oncologists and other doctors, you know, so that he can better understand and connect those dots between the technology he and his team is are responsible for, and how that works to help end customers succeed. So, you know, he was saying that, you know, most CIOs probably don’t do that as much as he does, but you know, my guess is that over time we’re actually gonna see more and more of that.
Sean Ellis 00:02:24 Yeah, I think so. You know, I’ve always felt strongly that growth is a team sport, and it works best when you have alignment across the organization. So I’m not surprised that in the world’s fastest growing companies, growth really is a shared and diverse effort. Uh, you know, GS made the point that he sees growth through really these two lenses of both personal growth and business growth, and that both of these are connected to IT strategy. So he’s really making the case that systems and technology can’t just be bolted on top of other strategies to be effective. They need to be integrated.
Ethan Garr 00:02:58 Yeah, and I think he was, yeah, I really appreciated just how generous he was in sharing how that’s been really a key challenge for him to overcome in this role. I mean, you know, building alignment between teams and strategy and ensuring that those things connect to delivering value. I think he’s taken upon that, upon himself and said, you know, that’s my role in growth. So, really interesting stuff.
Sean Ellis 00:03:17 Definitely, uh, a lot of interesting stuff to take from this. And when you step back and, and think about, uh, you know, the important work that Accra is doing to help people with cancer, you realize there is a lot at stake. Um, so before we jump in, a reminder that this week’s sponsor, SAP is the world’s leading provider of enterprise application software, enabling hyper growth companies to scale quickly to achieve their growth ambitions with their agile cost effective, easy to implement cloud solutions. If you are working to power breakout growth success in your business, please check out sap.com/sme.
Ethan Garr 00:03:53 Very cool. All right, Sean, let’s, uh, let’s get started.
Sean Ellis 00:04:05 Hi, GS, welcome to the Breakout Growth podcast.
GS Jha 00:04:07 Hello, Sean. Hello, Ethan. Thank you so much. Nice to meet both of
Sean Ellis 00:04:12 You. Nice to meet you too. We we’re excited to have y on and, uh, as you mentioned, Ethan is on as well. Uh, Hey, Ethan.
Ethan Garr 00:04:19 Yeah, nice to be here with both of you.
Sean Ellis 00:04:21 Yeah. So, um, our audience may or may not be familiar with, uh, Accuray, I’m assuming, uh, more likely, not familiar. So maybe you can give us, uh, just a quick overview of, of the business, uh, what, what the company does, uh, maybe how long you’ve been around, what size it is.
GS Jha 00:04:39 Yeah, absolutely. So, Accuray is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. We have a manufacturing and, and the sales offices all over the country, all over the world, but primarily within us, Sunnyvale, uh, Wisconsin, um, medicine and, uh, significants in, in European Union, as well as in Asia Pacific. Uh, we are a global leader in the radiotherapy business segment. Uh, we develop manufacture and cell radiotherapy systems, uh, to treat cancers, uh, with emphasis on neurological indications. Our radiation therapy systems are designed to make treatment shorter, safer, personalized, and more effective. Ultimately, that enables patients to live longer and better lives. Our littlest focus on innovation sets a new standard as we strive to deliver the best possible outcome for the patients. Our groundbreaking treatment, delivery planning and data management solutions are built on more than two decades of clinical evidence and real world use. Uh, headcount-wise, we are close to 1200 worldwide direct employees. We are about 450, 50 5 million in annual revenue. And in many markets, we also go through the distributor network. So we have 1200 QA strong teammates, plus our partners distributors in many countries where we don’t go direct.
Sean Ellis 00:06:22 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and how long ago was the company founded?
GS Jha 00:06:25 Company was found founded in, I believe, in mid-nineties, 1995, around, around that time.
Sean Ellis 00:06:31 Okay. Wow. And so the, the alternatives, if they don’t use, uh, you guys, what, what would, what is the sort of alternative approach to, to treatment?
GS Jha 00:06:41 You know, the, the traditional, you know, surgery, cut, cut, patient, remove tumors or do chemo. There are other, uh, way to treat the cancer as well. But more and more radis and therapies have started to play a major role where patient can walk in 20 minutes of treatments, goes back home, saves.
Sean Ellis 00:07:04 And, and I assume most of your, uh, most of your kind of outbound efforts then are toward, toward doctors or other people that are kind of deciding the treatment course?
GS Jha 00:07:13 Mostly oncologists, uh, uh, any, uh, hospitals, uh, centers who have, uh, oncology practice deals with all kinds of cancers are our, our potential customers.
Ethan Garr 00:07:27 Cool. So I think you might be the first cio. I know Sean. Does that sound right? I don’t think we’ve had a CIO on
Sean Ellis 00:07:32 Our Yeah, I don’t think we have either. Yeah.
Ethan Garr 00:07:33 So I, you know, I, I thought maybe would be helpful for our audiences if you could tell us a little bit about what a CIO is and does, and maybe like what’s different between a CIO and a cto. Like, what is your role, <laugh>? Yeah.
GS Jha 00:07:48 First of all, you know, I’m honored to be the first, uh, guest, guest speaker on your podcast. So thank you so much. And I, I, I’m going to take this opportunity to even provide more information so that people understand what CIOs are and, uh, and, and what are the expectations. So CIO stands for chief Information Officer, right? And, uh, and, and, uh, every single company, uh, uh, have that role, whether they’re called a CIO or head of IT, or director of it, but every single company, um, have that role because who doesn’t use computer these days, right? Uh, right. So in that capacity at a qa, uh, I’m role is little bit as special because I have two roles. I have a CIO role as well as CISO role, CISO being Chief Information Security Officer. You know, every day you read some newspaper, some company got hacked, somebody became victim of Ware ransomware.
GS Jha 00:08:52 This is where CISO plays a major role in company keeping companies assets secure. But here I’m going to focus on cio. So like any other cio, I’m responsible for managing accurate global information systems, which includes to name few, uh, global IT operations, business applications like erp, like Salesforce, um, cloud Systems, office 365, right? Amazon web websites, um, infrastructure service desks, to name a few. In my role, along with my team, I apply technological systems and related product to simplify our internal business processes. And as a result, my goal is to maximize day to day efficiency, increase revenue, increase profit and productivity within the company. So as a cio, the role is a lot more internal focused on helping company grow, scale, automation and efficiency and so on. And that’s what rest of the CIOs do, more or less. Cto O CTO O on, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Sean Ellis 00:10:07 No, keep going. I, no,
Ethan Garr 00:10:08 You’re about to, you’re about to answer my question. I think
GS Jha 00:10:11 <laugh> is CTO on the other road is T know other, uh, it stands for Chief Technology Officer. Generally, that role, uh, is found in a technological driven product company. So that role is pretty outward, outward focused, talking to customer, uh, working with engineers, developing products that goes to the customer. And their job is to make sure that they are using the right technology in the right way to deliver the maximum value to the customer through the product that they make for the products. For us, we are a MedTech company, right? Where it’s a good combination of high tech and biotech, and how we use technology and how we deliver that technology using hardware, software, robotics, artificial intelligence are very, very important in developing, innovating, innovative radient therapy to kill cancerous cells. So we don’t have the official title here at Edge cto, but we have Chief medical officer and VP of R and D who end up playing that, that role without having that title. So, cio, primarily internal focus, cto, mostly outward customers and product focus.
Sean Ellis 00:11:31 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, I, I saw that you have an MBA from, uh, from Northwestern, uh, Kellogg, like obviously a fantastic business school. Um, is it unusual for a CIO to, to have an MBA as well?
GS Jha 00:11:46 Uh, these days? Not at all. I think these days, uh, it, if you don’t have mba, uh, you can compensate that with experience, but it might hurt you if you don’t have one. The reason being is, is CIOs is, is now becoming less as a technologist, more as a business person, a strategy person, and how do you lo look at the, the business horizon, your competitors, your industry, and how do you bring the technology to integrate with the business strategy? So it starts with the business, and then of course, at your core, you have to be technologists to marry them together, uh, to deliver the value that is expected of CIOs these days.
Sean Ellis 00:12:31 Yeah. And then of, of course, you mentioned that experience is also an important part of the equation there. Yeah, yeah. Looking at your, uh, LinkedIn, it’s, uh, you have a pretty, uh, diverse set of experiences. Um, I think start starting with companies like, like FedEx and Accenture. Yeah. And then working more toward the, the medical field over time. Uh, how does, how does that experience help you in the CIO role?
GS Jha 00:12:55 Yeah, yeah. Very good question, son. You know, like, like many of us, initially when I came to this country, I did masters in computer science. I was always gravitated towards brand name, you know, at the FedEx at that time, that was a shipping company. But I used to read a lot about FedEx in Wallace, create another, uh, uh, media where FedEx was being taught it as a, a technology company with her plans. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? So I ended up going to, to, uh, FedEx had very good success. I developed their first tracking software. So that was my hall of fame at, uh, yes, at it’s
Sean Ellis 00:13:34 Hugely important part of the business
GS Jha 00:13:36 Business, right? Yeah. Yeah. So, but coming to a qa and life science goes back to my childhood, right? It’s a deeply rooted on, in, in my child growing period of my childhood and the village and the, you know, more part of India where I grew up. Uh, the area that I grew up in really did have a good medical, um, access to medical services, such as even a distant clinic or access to medical doctors. So that was the inspiration that my parents had, I had for myself to become a doctor. But, and, and the whole purpose was to, to help my own family and local communities, because I have seen several, my own <inaudible> from cancer, they could have survived if they had a proper care, but it didn’t exist. Many of them were not even diagnosed, you know, and they, they didn’t get the treatment treatment.
GS Jha 00:14:35 So as a result, long story short, this passion kept coming back to me. That’s what led me to, uh, life science, hence Amgen, the, the company, which is, you know, a premier biotech company, uh, basically in cancer business, but treating cancer using drugs and other things. So it goes back to my, my childhood, uh, this, so the reason that QA and life science, because I think, as I said in the beginning, a QA is a global leader in Indian therapy business segment with a global presents and helping, uh, patients long live, live longer, healthier life with the innovative products that we have. A q a is also known for very innovative and excellent customer service that, that this company has been providing to the, uh, patient. And I knew I could, because I worked before a qa, I worked for a competitor called <inaudible>. So I know this, knew this company very, very well from outsider. And during the interview process, I met with many executive leaders and connected well with them, and my interview with them more like a two-way dialogue than a traditional interview. As a result, we had a very transparent discussion, which allowed me to get insight into the opportunity, the challenges, and the impact that I could make through a qa. And, and they all led me to come to a QA as a result.
Sean Ellis 00:16:06 And so what was the impact you, you thought you could make?
GS Jha 00:16:10 Oh, there’s a lot, right? So, during the interview process, um, I got to learn a lot about, uh, their current situation, their growth, uh, strategy, their, their projected, uh, uh, sales goals and so on. At the same time, they were very honest in explaining me what the current challenges are, so that I was fully aware, right? So that transparency, uh, the opportunity that existed where I felt that, you know what, this is the right place where not only I could make a lot of impact, but I will learn a lot of things and, and grow as a professional, um, uh, by being there, right? You know, you will find that I’m a very selective in choosing people whom I work with. I like to be surrounded by people who are smarter than I am, and whose value systems align with my, uh, personal value as well.
GS Jha 00:17:08 And as some of my personal values are servant leadership, being open in a growth mindset, authenticity, and care for others. And I thrive in, in rich opportunities environment, and I’m, I’m not ever, uh, to explore new territories and take calculated risks. So those are, those were the, the key elements that attracted me to, uh, to ate. Uh, just to add a few more colors that after a few months of starting here, the kind of impact I made, process improvements, speak to market, just education within the company, right? From boardroom, all the way to employee level, the power of technology that, that if we use technology, uh, in a certain way where it’s not an expense, but an investment which can generate revenue and help, uh, grow the profit margin, right? Those were the key takeaways. So as a result, I was given additional responsibility few months after, uh, after starting at a QA as a cso. So now that’s how I have two roles, CIO and cso.
Ethan Garr 00:18:23 So with that, I mean, MedTech is an interesting sort of animal, right? Um, Sean and I, a few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to meet, um, Tim Flaherty, who’s the, I think CFO of a company called Naval Injections. And when we spoke to him, um, you know, one of the things that, that came up in MedTech is that the, the time you, you talked about speed to market or speed to value, and one of the things that comes up is that there’s a lot of regulation, there’s a lot of, uh, unique challenges in, you know, to getting products to market is, so for you, it sounds like, you know, come, your background is, like you said, it’s not just technology, it’s really business. When you think about growth and you think about med tech, how do you balance those things where you’re trying to move at, at, at the fastest pace possible to deliver value to those, to those patients who need value, who need these, these products. At the same time, balancing that with the fact that speed is a little different in that, in what you do.
GS Jha 00:19:19 Yeah, no, totally. I think this is very, very good question. I think not only a qa, but every single company who are in life science industry segment, have to deal, deal with and overcome the challenges, right? As you said, son MedTech is highly regulated business and digital lessons come in many forms and shapes across many countries. There aren’t any standards that, that’s one standard that are followed globally, right? For example, in the US that met tech industry regulated by fda, you know, food and, and, uh, drug administration in European Union, and it’s Saydr in China, it’s Chinese, fda. And similarly, Canada, Australia and, and many other countries have their own version of regulations, though most of the have a lot in common, but there are also some subtle differences. Businesses like a QA has to pay close a to comply with compliances. And complying with these regulations is very, very critical, right?
GS Jha 00:20:25 As a result, it creates many unique challenges and obligations that businesses like a, have to, to abide by and deal with, right? The way in the us, in the US at least, FDA has clearly outlined the guidance that company like AQA must follow for both pre-market as well as post market. So, by pre-market, I mean the process of designing the product post-market, what happens once you have released the product, right? Common things, terms, you might have heard adverse event, right? Uh, if the product counts, some safety issues, risk for the patients, FDA wants to know about that, and FD wants to know, how are we dealing with it? How are we addressing with it? So at a qa, we have taken a holistic approach to these regulations by developing a quality management system, also known as qms, which defines articulates our product design, development, verification, validation, regulatory approval, commercialization as well, as well as post commercialization process, mostly monitoring and reporting that we have to have a, a well documented, well trained professional in place, right? It takes long time. So the planning five to seven years in advance is key to success, right?
Ethan Garr 00:21:54 Does that, does that directly impact you in the CIO role? I mean, do those things trickle down to your side of the business, or is that more on sort of the research and development side of the business? Or is it ev it’s everybody.
GS Jha 00:22:10 So, very good question. Again, Ethan, two groups or three groups that are primarily hit hard by, this is quality and regulatory departments, r and d, which is product development and commercial team. But things that they do, not everything is under their control. They need good technological process automation system to be able to create the velocity and scale. So as a result, indirectly, we are with this to help them, provide them the tools and resources and technical systems to be able to, to go through this process. So the planning, so anything that we are planning to do five, just five years from now, whether it is a new product or product extension, we have to start planning now, pull the cross functional team together, have a long work plan, critical path identified, so that everybody’s coming together at the right time to make the right contribution. So it’s, it’s a long term think strategic thinking, long term planning, and be able to pull together the cross-functional team to be able to deliver that three to five year milestone and roadmap journey.
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Ethan Garr 00:24:22 So outside of the, uh, those challenges, the regulatory challenges, where do you sit in your role in terms of growth? Like, what is growth to you and how do you impact it as a, as a business?
GS Jha 00:24:34 Yeah. So to me, when I look at the growth, I look at it two ways, right? Of course, every single business has to be growth-oriented growth mindset. But I look at it two ways. Being as a, as a group leader, a professional development, a professional growth, right? Meaning gaining new skills and work experience that can help me and my team reach our, our own departmental goals. And the second, the business growth a has our own, you know, growth projection that we are trying to achieve. And it’s essential for every single customer to have a growth business growth strategy. Now, part of that business growth strategy, as you know, we live in a very technological world, right? Nothing gets done without technology these days. Whether it is a taking order, whether developing, uh, a fulfilling order supply chain, uh, developing even a prototype of a product, you need technological, uh, systems to do that, be able to communicate with you, uh, users, you need some communications, they, which are supported by my group. So at A two, the approach we have taken is our growth strategy has to be tightly coupled with our it, it strategy, because one cannot move without other in order to scale, grow and have a frictionless execution. Having technologically strategy and CIO play a major, major role, otherwise not doing, not, not doing that, you will get a marginal outcome. B, it will take longer. See, it creates just a lot of risks because then technology is becoming more of a ad hoc support elements rather than strategy elements.
Sean Ellis 00:26:33 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I wanted to go back to, uh, something you had said earlier that, uh, the more I think about, it’s kind of interesting, you, you had said when you were going through the, uh, the interview process and, and figuring out if, if the company was a good fit for you, that, uh, that, that they were very transparent about challenges and, and how important that was to you. One, do you think that’s unusual? Do you think a lot of companies, uh, kind of shield perspective employees from those challenges? And then they have to, uh, they have to have the oh, oh crap moment when they get into the company and then, and then two, can you maybe, uh, shed some light in, in whatever you feel comfortable with on, on what sort of challenges they shared with you?
GS Jha 00:27:19 Yeah. So, you know, you are right. Uh, this happens quite a bit where these things are not discussed, but I feel like, you know, in the interview process, the reason somebody’s interviewing a, there need, right? And, and I think it, it’s a, it’s a right thing to do to express those needs, uh, without sharing too much of dirty laundry, right? But, but, but there’s an obligation that that business has to educate the, the, the interviewees on, on what to expect. And, and, uh, so there’s, there isn’t any surprise and misalignment from the day one, right? So many challenges that, uh, um, I took takeaway from the interview process where related to alignment and integrating it, uh, you know, we call ourself gis, global information services and their goals with overall corporate strategy and goals, and with the rest of the stakeholders, uh, departmental goals. Other thing that I learned that, that QA has been investing significant capital in IT systems in IT organization, but the ROI from those investment weren’t proportional to for many, many, for many regions, right?
GS Jha 00:28:43 So what I, what I picked up from that discussion was that a qa GIS organization led IT governance portfolio management, and IT leadership representation at the executive leadership team where the strategic discussion feature of businesses that were being discussed. So what happened as a result that, uh, the prior leader, a, he got the, the information late in the game, number one, number B, it was translated, right? If, if you’re hearing something directly, you learn differently than somebody else is telling somebody else, and then you are being told, right? So a lot of things get, um, translated, uh, within the layers. The second was, there were a lot of its within, within the enterprise where the business, uh, were allowed to go by their own software without going through proper waiting process and without, uh, IT team’s involvement. So as a result, what do you get a half solution, which gives you marginal roi and you are not able to support, uh, and get the maximum benefit of the system.
GS Jha 00:30:00 And third, that was the most important, was that since corporate business strategy was not tightly integrated with the IT strategy, it was a misalignment causing delays, causing less than expected, um, outcomes, you know, in order to support business. And as a result, it was playing a catch up game always, rather than being proactive and ahead. And in nutshell, you know, in conclusion, if I had to describe all that in one such sense, in one sentence, would be it, it was looked at as a support function rather than a source of transformation or competitive advantage or, or a group that can help unleash the business potential. And that’s what I have been trying to do here through building my own personal relationship with executive leadership, uh, board members and leaders at all levels, education, education, and be able to source some, uh, good results early on to earn their trust and respect so that we are getting pulled in that discussion timely.
Ethan Garr 00:31:11 So, so I think it’s interesting that you’re talking about infrastructure and systems, um, in the context of roi, I think Sean and I probably typically in a lot of the tech businesses that we encounter, um, IT investments are probably not, I mean, they are looked at from an ROI perspective, but probably not as specifically as they should be. Um, but it seems like, especially in a business like yours where you might have longer tails to the, to products and things like that, um, it becomes really integral that, you know, what these investments are going in net out. When you think about that, I mean, how do you approach getting alignment around that and getting the, that the organization to understand the importance of understanding the val, you know, of thinking about these investments in terms of what are they gonna drive in terms of this year, five years down the road, 10 years down the road?
GS Jha 00:32:06 So, you know, this is another excellent question. Um, you know, you know, it can, you know, it’s initially as a cio, that’s why I said MBA degree and experience are, are, are critical to success. The reason being is that, you know, when you talk to the Swiss suite, you got to be able to talk in business language in a strategic manner because they don’t understand the technology. Bits, bys and E R P and uh, Salesforce. What they want to know, what are the capabilities and, and what it can do for us, to me, to help develop our, to help advance our strategic goals. That’s what they want to hear, right? So be able to connect with them at the business level, at the strategy level is the first requirements of cio. That’s how you connect and build that trust and respect that, right? So education, education, and the secondly, which I have been doing with my team to develop consultative solution provider approach, right?
GS Jha 00:33:11 Don’t tell me how you want a solution. Tell me what are your challenges and problems, and I’ll figure it out. What is the best technology and how they should be used to deliver or to meet your expectations, right? So we’re basically turning the table where you telling us what you want us to do, you tell us what the challenges you are dealing with, what will come up with the solution, right? So we have, we are becoming that, that consultants within the organization, that wasn’t the case, right? So that’s the culture I’m, I’m developing within, within the group. So we are big, we are viewed as a solution provider rather than package for the lack of better, better words.
Ethan Garr 00:33:56 Do you work to connect your team to the, to the end, to the end customer, to the oncologist? I mean, are, are there things you try to do so that the people who are working with you, the, on the infrastructure and systems, understand that, you know, those oncologists and their needs specifically?
GS Jha 00:34:13 Yeah, so depending upon the role I’m hiring for, right? So for the new person whom I’m hiring, we have changed our, our, uh, profiles as to whom we want to be on our team. We are just not looking for technologists anymore. We’re looking for somebody who has a domain subject matter knowledge as well, has a strong technical background. For, for example, if I’m hiring somebody to support finance and accounting department, I want to, I, I want to hire somebody who understands what accountants do, what are the needs, what are the requirements? How do you close books? What are the challenges they face? They don’t have to be accountant, but they have to know enough about accounting, uh, business processes so that A, you can connect, you can empathize, c you know, the technology that you can bring proportionally to address the challenges being faced. So that has provided a big safety in how we are becoming the solution provider within qa.
GS Jha 00:35:19 Number two, anybody in my group who are not, who don’t have that skills, we are putting, we have put together a training program. We have been aligning our team with the businesses where I tell businesses these resources in my team, treat them, consider them like your resource. You invite them to your town halls, your weekly meetings, so that they hear you from you directly. The challenges, the opportunity that you are facing so that we can help appropriately. We don’t want to have any wall between businesses and it, right? And that has been the traditional research. I just want to create one harmonized cohesive team where the information sharing and the discussions are pretty open and transparent, and the result, we are seeing good results.
Sean Ellis 00:36:16 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, I have to assume that, uh, you know, you touched on, on this, but I’ve gotta assume it’s, it’s through the whole company that, uh, it’s a very mission driven business, obviously, obviously it’s making, making massive impact on, on the people who, who need cancer treatments. Um, how much, how much does that mission kind of permeate everyday execution and, and people are, are, are, uh, given context to what they’re working on in, in how it advances that mission? And even can you quantify advancement of that mission to some degree,
GS Jha 00:36:48 You know, that, that’s, that’s again, so thank you so much. Very good question. Um, you know, a lot of back office people, especially in our line of business, they don’t, they’re not able to make direct connection of the work that they are doing. How does it help patients? Right? And this is where the, the, the leadership plays a critical role that for everyone in the organization, whether it is the IT help desk or somebody helping with ERP project or in HR where somebody’s hiring new talents in finance and accounting, where they are creating sales order invoices. Those are essential function as well to be able to support the business and all that. But they don’t get to see or meet customer directly, like marketing people do, or like a commercial team does. So what I do is look at our annual goals, our long range plan.
GS Jha 00:37:44 I use that to project three to five years IT strategy plan that are totally aligned with businesses strategy. Once I have done that, then I take it further down, couple of layers where I’m able to define it for my direct reports. How does that translate it for them, for their projects, for their tasks, right? Then we have a goal planning session with every, for every single employee in the company, specifically in my group where I take a lot of interest in, I see everybody’s goal. And in that goal, we clearly define the project that we are doing, you know, this quarter, next quarter, whom does IT help and how, and what results we’re trying to achieve. This helps them to connect the dots, number one. Number two, on a, I would say quarterly or six months basis, as we get opportunity, we invite patients and doctors to speak to us, to then they are able to explain how our products are being used.
GS Jha 00:38:50 Of the good work that our team has been doing translates into, uh, treating cancers. You know, it gives hope to people, their family and and so on. And then in internally, I also have a good line of, uh, relationship with marketing people, commercial team, whom I periodically invite in our town hall to say some customers perspective to help connect the dots with our team. So that’s how we, we keep, and in every single opportunity I have, I try to share some story from the market. I go to a lot of conference, I personally meet, uh, our customers, and I try to communicate that, uh, in a way that resonates with, with my team, you know, in terms of what they do, how they do, and how it connects to the product that we develop and ultimately deliver to the customer.
Sean Ellis 00:39:48 That’s amazing. Do you, do you think that’s unusual in the, in, in the medical space to actually get that direct contact with customers?
GS Jha 00:39:55 Uh, for cio, generally speaking, yes. But I am fortunate, one where the kind of approach I have taken, uh, from the IT strategy perspective and from the CSO perspective, that I’m very well positioned where I have a very good 360 view, degree of outside world as well as inner world. So I feel like I’m a privileged where I have a lot more visibility, uh, from my perspective than I would’ve I would’ve ever received from somebody else telling me that.
Sean Ellis 00:40:30 Right, right. I mean, I’ve gotta imagine that’s such good fuel for, for you and the rest of the team to be able to, to hear those stories and, and, uh, it, it, yeah. It’s, it’s not easy. Always easy to stay completely motivated, but when you, when you know the impact you’re making, uh, it’s, it’s gotta be great fuel.
Ethan Garr 00:40:49 Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s interesting cuz I think specifically with your customer, your end customer, I mean, being oncologists, I, years ago I had the, uh, a unique opportunity to work for an oncologist, actually, uh, a few miles down the road from where Sean, Sean lives in California. Um, I worked with him on a, a sailing related thing, not on, um, anything medical. But, um, I used to watch every day a guy who would work, I would say a, a short day for him was 16, 17 hours. Um, and I re distinctly remember him coming into, into the office one night and saying, I had a pretty good day. I put, I sent two people home, I put two people in the hospital, and I sent two to the morgue. And he was, I mean, he just, that was the kind of day that this guy would have.
Ethan Garr 00:41:37 And it was just, it was a really, it’s a tough, tough, it’s a tough business. You’re, you’re, um, but one of the things he was telling me back then is just how quickly technology was moving and how, uh, things from even a few years, this is about 23, 22 years ago, but he was saying that, you know, people would come to him and they would think that their cases were terminal, and he was like, because they were looking on online and seeing things, and he was saying no, like, we can treat those now. And I imagine it’s only accelerated. And it, I, it seems to me that for someone like you in a role, the more you can connect the dots from what you do this, these very like esoteric structural infrastructure type things, these systems to actually making a difference in people’s lives, it seems like a great way to motivate and connect your team. Um, so it’s really interesting to hear that you’ve actually been able to, um, find specific ways to talk to those people, bring them into the conversation. Um, you know, slightly, uh, off topic, but I think maybe, uh, an interesting question is, uh, I noticed, I think it was on LinkedIn, you had posted, uh, you had just run maybe your 24th marathon. Uh, maybe I’m getting the number wrong, but, um, I’m, I’m just curious. Would’ve been impressive.
Ethan Garr 00:42:52 Yeah. I mean, um, uh, yeah, one would’ve been impressive, <laugh>. Um, so 24 is certainly impressive. But I guess my question is, um, has, has that, uh, that experience, uh, helped you to be a better, uh, leader in what you do? And if so, is there, is there something you’ve taken from that experience that you specifically connect to the work you do every day? Yeah,
GS Jha 00:43:13 I, you know, uh, like, uh, marathon leadership, they don’t happen overnight. It’s a, it’s a journey, right? Uh, and being, uh, a, a group leader, you have a people from all discipline at all, all level of maturity and experience. And, uh, as a leader, you have to be, uh, cognizant of that, a, b and be able to customize your messaging at every single level within the organization so that you’re able to connect with, with all of them. Uh, where a smaller company, uh, you know, relatively speaking, where everybody’s contribution is critical, very, very important, right? From the speed, innovation, other ROI perspective. So going back to your question, I, you know, about the marathon, the reason I basically, uh, you know, naturally I’m not a natural runner. It takes, you know, a lot for me to run, but for some reason, uh, it’s in my DNA or something I like to explore.
GS Jha 00:44:22 I, I, I like the chartering or exploring on charter territory doesn’t, uh, discourage me. It gives me energy, it gives me, um, juice, you know, that keeps me going. So yes, running marathon is, is is difficult, right? Especially after, for different, for different people. It works differently for me after I hit 16, 17th, mile every mile, you feel like give up, right? Give up. But you tell yourself, no, keep going. It’s another step, it’s another mile and you cross. And leadership is very, very similar, right? I cannot tell you how much I have grown here just in last 18 months, being at a qa, I knew coming in, it’ll be challenging. And, and that was for me, the energy, the Jew I was looking for, that I’m walking in a rich, uh, opportunity rich environment. And, uh, as a result, I’ll be required to work longer. I have to be a good listener. I have to, to learn even better way to empathize with people internally and externally. So like marathon, I’m still work in progress. I keep looking for opportunity to, uh, to keep further develop myself, my mental strength, my physical strength, and, and my leadership skills.
Sean Ellis 00:45:51 Awesome. So, Ethan, I think I’m gonna, I’m gonna take the last question here, if you don’t mind. Uh, sounds good. <laugh>. So one, one question that we’d like to always wrap up with, uh, is we, we’d like to know, what do you feel like you understand about growth today that maybe you didn’t understand two or three years ago?
GS Jha 00:46:10 You know, so I, I would say, you know, since I have been in leadership role, when I switched to, um, life science, uh, industry, my understanding of growth haven’t really changed much. But if I go early days of my career where I wasn’t as, didn’t have as much as of business acumen I have now, I was not able to, to connect my growth, my team’s growth with company’s growth. I was just not able to either it was a lack of communications from my leadership team or my own maturity. If, if I’m not able to put, uh, put a, put a finger on it. But if anything, I think I take blame that I wasn’t mature or enough educated enough to, to connect the dots. But in last, last 10 years, for me, the growth has been in know, pretty consistent how I see it, but the technically and strategically how I apply my experience, knowledge and bring others to play in that growth, that approach has changed. And it has been changing from company to company based on the culture, based on the team dynamics, and based on the customer base and the market, uh, that I get to play in.
Sean Ellis 00:47:40 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I love that. I, I don’t think I’ve heard any of our other guests make the connection between, between personal growth and, and company growth and how important that is. But I, I agree. It’s, it’s hugely important. And, uh, it’s, you know, I, I actually at one point, uh, when, when I first kind of heard about the concept of growth mindset, I, I remember saying, oh, I think a lot of people get mixed up. They think the, the per the growth mindset of the personal growth mindset versus a business growth mindset, um, they’re, they’re conflating those two concepts. But, but like you, increasingly over time, I, I realized that, that the two are probably a lot more tied together than, than I realized at the time. Yeah,
GS Jha 00:48:23 No. So that, you know, I’m a big believer in, for a company to grow, team has to grow first, because, you know, I’m a big believer in our product, whether it is a tangible product or intangible product such as services is a reflection of the team. You, by looking at the product, I can predict the team dynamics in the team who produce that product. If the product, if the team, which is strong as a result, product will be strong. If the team is dysfunctional, you can find gaps in the product that will tell you that the team dynamic was not as strong. So I’m big believer in building a strong team. As a result, we will, they will deliver a strong, a strong product.
Sean Ellis 00:49:14 Uh, awesome. So Ethan, do you have any big takeaways you wanna share, or would you like me to jump into mine?
Ethan Garr 00:49:21 Uh, no, I’ll start Sean. Um, I think, I think just what you said just now is, is probably the big takeaway from me. You talked about the fact that coming in, one of the big challenges that they were pretty open with you about is that, um, the company that alignment across the company was, uh, needed improvement. And I think to your point, uh, when growth is not just the business, but it’s also personal growth, and you connect those things, it makes alignment more possible, right? Because I mean, everybody has has their own personal goals in their, in their work life. So when you connect those to the mission, that’s when you can accomplish great things. So I think that makes a lot of sense. Um, and I think also just as you, as you said, um, you know, this stuff is tough. You know, you hit mile 16, 17, it gets to the point where, um, it is really difficult. Um, and it is really challenging. And I, I think especially in a big organization, um, where you have lots of moving parts, that’s, that’s, that’s a, a big challenge. And I think you do need to model the mindset for teams and for individuals. Otherwise, you’ll never, never accomplish that. So, uh, yeah, really good stuff. I, I, I really appreciate, um, the learnings here and the time. So Sean, how about you
Sean Ellis 00:50:33 To, uh, yeah, so, so my, my big takeaways, um, are, you know, I’ve, I’ve always been a champion of, of spending a lot of time with customers. Um, but I think, I think I, I may not have been as creative in a, in a medical environment to think about how important it is also to, to connect with, with customers, in your case, both the oncologists and, and the end customers. And, and just how, how much context that brings to life. And then, you know, kind of working backwards from, from that mission that that helps to, to bring to life to what you had talked about with, uh, you know, building business strategy off of that mission, and then how it strategy, uh, it builds off of the business strategy and, and all the way down to the, to the goals and tasks on the individual level.
Sean Ellis 00:51:20 But I think when you can, when you can bring that all together, you can create that, that alignment and, and working well together that, uh, out creates outsized results. Because there, there’s the other side where, um, particularly I’ve, I’ve been a much more of an early stage startup guy, and it’s, uh, amazing when you, when you have really efficient execution, when you’re small and as, as you grow, not to the numbers where you are, but even, you know, from, from 10 people to, to 20 to 30 to 50, you, you feel like the, the average efficiency, the average output starts to drop as, as people try to find ways to work together. But, uh, but I think, um, this framework that you laid out there can, can really help to, to drive, uh, execution that, that scales over time. And I, and I think that’s probably a big part of the, of the IT systems that you’re also building is, is to, is to be able to, to talk about, you know, how how do you scale impact, uh, in a way that, um, that is, uh, efficient and secure and all, all the things that, uh, all the things that in the long run, uh, help drive impact in the business.
Sean Ellis 00:52:33 So absolutely. Those, those are some of my big takeaways, but thank, thank you so much for, for all your, your sharing.
GS Jha 00:52:39 No, you’re welcome. It’s, it has been a pleasure. Yeah.
Sean Ellis 00:52:43 Yeah. And, and for everyone tuning in, thank you for, for tuning in.
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