Podcast: A technology leader's needs from a city with James Cummings

James Cummings

Vice President of Business Development at London & Partners

Podcast – Episode 20:
A technology leader’s needs from a city

Driving innovation and growth…The London story

Culture can make a huge difference to an organization’s energy around Agility, innovation, creativity, and synergy with other seemingly unrelated industries. So we often talk about the environment and culture on a micro and macro level (teams and organizations). These always seem to be under the microscope, and for good valid reasons. What if, for a moment, we looked through a telescope at the bigger picture. What about the environment and culture of an entire city?

In this episode, we get to meet and talk to James Cummings, Vice President of Business Development at London & Partners. He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he promotes London to organizations, including tech companies, to locate themselves in the UK’s capital city. With all the trappings of success, through a huge pool of creative talent, hotbed of innovation, and strong governmental governance and support, many companies are making a move to London to grow and take advantage of the fertile entrepreneurial soil of London.

“How can cities like London help you take advantage of that global opportunity? How do you find the talent? The customer base? The places that can help connect you to the world? How do you find the cities that constantly reinvent? Those cities of creative energy? Those cities of opportunity? I really think London is one of those cities!”

The key takeaways from the podcast are:

  • Who are London & Partners, and how they can help tech companies and their tech leadership.
  • What are tech leaders looking for in a city?
  • How cities can drive growth through talent, R&D, incentives, and simplicity of doing business.
  • Examples of companies that have located in London and the success they made of it.
  • Examples of relationships between cities and how these can help each other by playing to each other’s strengths.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Philosophy of enlightened leadership in the tech space with Alain Briancon

Alain Briancon

CTO at Cerebri AI

Podcast – Episode 20:
Philosophy of enlightened leadership in the tech space

Startup number 5 and leading stronger

Technology leaders sit in an incredibly important organizational seat in this day and age. Their role is to deliver technology and give businesses the capability to compete, innovate, and stay relevant. Our guest Alain Briancon, CTO at Cerebri AI, speaks to this subject on this podcast, in particular, how leadership plays a huge role in how people think and go about their tasks.

“Learn to think about the way you think.”

The key takeaways from the podcast are:

  • The fundamental role of tech leaders and why it’s not just about delivering technology.
  • The part that documentation can play in supporting the work you do, and some inspiration around avoiding documentation debt. As we know, any debt, be it technical or other, always comes back to bite us on the backside if we don’t address it.
  • Thinking about your thinking when solving problems.

There are many more takeaways embedded in the podcast. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did hosting it.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Taking Agile and working to big it up with Sung Choi

Sung Choi

Senior Director Of Engineering at Warby Parker

Podcast – Episode 20:
Taking Agile and working to big it up

Creating Agile autonomy org-wide

Warby Parker is a big name in the spectacle industry, so it was exciting to have Sung Choi, their Senior Director of engineering, come onto the show and share his wisdom. Sung is a true Agilist and seated in a company that seems to create the perfect environment for the values and principles of Agile to thrive.

The key takeaways from the podcast are:

  • The power of leading with integrity.
  • Aligning around values and principles to deliver customer-centric business value from the technology space.
  • Using the “commander’s intent” to inspire a solution mindset in the teams and allowing autonomy to flourish.

On Mitigating risk: “Communication! That’s one of the most important tools in any tech leader’s toolbox. It’s frequent and methodical communication with all the people involved. Maybe even over-indexing when necessary, because while it’s definitely cumbersome to have to listen to the same pitch, or the same update three or four different times over the course of a week, it’s a lot less painful to have to clean up messes caused by lack of communication.”

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: Lessons from the Front Lines With Charles White

Charles White

CTO at Fornetix

Podcast – Episode 19:
Leading In The Military To Leading In Tech

A Military Man Turns Tech Leader

IT Labs takes pride in finding and speaking to CTOs with fascinating tech journeys. Well, here’s another interesting one that started in the military and ended up at the helm of an organization’s tech function.

Charles White, CTO at Fornetix, shares his journey and insights into areas that he is passionate about, from leadership to security and novel architectures. It would be safe to say Charles covers much wisdom-filled ground in this podcast.

“When building teams, I always found that the ‘WHY!’ let you gravitate around it. It drives! It helps create inclusiveness in organizations. When the ‘why’ is not explained, it creates barriers.”

One particularly striking aspect of Charles’s voyage is how an injury changed his life path and in what manner he built on it, an inspiring lesson for all of us.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Becoming a CTO (the journey from military to CTO).
  • Leadership tips on creating high performing teams and holding the vision for your people.
  • The responsibility of leading and coordinating security and technology, with a share of next-generation advances.
  • What attribute-driven architectures are and how they can be something to consider.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
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Podcast:  Getting clear on AI & ML with Felix Hovsepian

Felix Hovsepian

CTO at Blue Manifold & Professor

Podcast – Episode 18:
Getting clear on AI & ML

Musings on AI, ML, and leading tech R&D

There is much talk about AI and ML (Machine learning). The terms are misused, and the hype around them creates much confusion. So what can they offer in real terms, if anything?

Well, Felix Hovsepian joins us on CTO confessions to clear up the subject and explore some interesting use cases. Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Why ML and AI are not the same things.
  • Examples of AI and ML.
    • Generative design
    • AI at the Edge
  • Being a tech leader in R&D

Felix is a colorful character with interesting ideas in several fields. After listening, share your thoughts on AI/ML. Are these fields starting to emerge from the hype cycle?

“The thing is the two weeks is not long enough to do research, to try and see what the nature of this problem is. And at what point do you pull the plug? Once you start looking at those types of projects, then the teams tend to be small. My specialty is looking after teams that are typically between three and seven people (five plus or minus two). Within a team like that, it really does take on some of that “spirit of Agility” because there are no seniors and managers. Everybody is in it at the same time. It’s a self-organizing team. You need to have people who think differently. I think that is the real key. I think that’s the real key for technology as well as education. It’s the key for the 21st Century. We need to start literately thinking about our thinking.”

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast:  The Lessons of Amazon with David Glick

David Glick

CTO at FLEXE

Podcast – Episode 17:
The Lessons of Amazon

Tech Leadership Tips from an Insider

It’s always interesting when you meet people who’ve made dramatic shifts from one field into another — in this episode, we speak with a scientist who made a spectacular, successful and exciting leap into the tech world. You may have heard of the company where guest David Glick ended up: a little startup they call Amazon! David Glick shares the inside scoop on how immersing himself in the “Amazonian” culture molded his tech leadership. Now CTO at FLEXE (a flexible on-demand warehousing and fulfillment company), David Glick has much hard-won leadership wisdom to share.

“… don’t know what you call it, a macho thing, kind of a firefighter theme, which is, “Oh, we’re so good at putting out fires.” After about 10 years of that, even about one year of that became not as much fun for me. I said, let’s do fire prevention!”

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • The layer cake of leadership (how to enhance and advance your tech career).
  • Lessons from leading in Amazon.
  • The truth about AI/ML.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
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Podcast: SME tech leader tips, from a successful serial startup CTO with Steve Books

Steve Books

CTO at Slingshot Technology

Podcast – Episode 16:
SME tech leader tips, from a successful serial startup CTO

Creating a startup culture in SME organizations for hyper-growth, innovation, and business survival

One of the consistent things we see here at IT Labs through our ‘Teams as a Service’ (TaaS) and Business Agility consulting is companies’ need to have a startup mindset. Especially if they are in a phase of innovation to get one step ahead of competitors. Some of you may be thinking when wouldn’t this be the case 🙂 Well, many SMEs know the lessons but have forgotten them through their journey of growth. It’s almost like growth creates some form of ‘wisdom amnesia.’

Though IT Labs target audience is not startup’s, but because we are learners, we actively seek out these nimble little organizations’ voices to see what they are innovating and how they work. We desire to pick out their gems of advice and understanding through the lessons of success and beautiful moments of failure, to garner revived thinking for our community of technology leaders.

“[Smart businesses intentionally] try to cannibalize themselves, because they know that’s how they win in the end.” (e.g., Apple iPad)”

Well, Steve Books, CTO at Slingshot Technologies, joined us for an enlightening discussion on his serial startup journey. He’s what we like to call a starter-upper. I know not a real word, but it’s what we call someone who consistently gets involved in startups and nurtures them to exit. So here’s your opportunity to get a look under the covers of someone with a startup mindset and see things in a little bit more detail.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Lessons from a series of startups and exits.
  • Tips on getting the most out of teams.
  • How to make remote working work for you as a tech leader.
  • Why business cannibalism is bizarrely good for your organization.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
Reach out to us.


Podcast: Leading technology with a toothbrush with Brian Hough

Brian Hough

CTO at Beam Dental

Podcast – Episode 15:
Leading technology with a toothbrush

How to create customer-centric innovation and market disruption

Tech leaders sit at the heart of an organization. They are the enablers of the businesses in this digital world we live in. Decisions they make, impact the present, and mold the future.

In this episode of CTO Confessions, we speak to the tech leader of a very niche business. They have taken the simple toothbrush and added an impressive dimension to it. Marrying the world of personal preventative dental health care with that of dental insurance, through a technology-enabled toothbrush. What you might call “smart dental care.”

“You have to view yourself as the connector. One of the responsibilities we have as CTOs is that our world touches everybody else’s world, and vice versa. That very rarely happens for other parts of the organization. And so, once you recognize this, you start to realize that you need to have a relationship with those folks. You need to have signals that you’re pulling in, and you need to share the responsibility for the KPIs those people have.”

Brian Hough, Dental Beams CTO, joins us to talk about his tech challenges and wisdom around creating a truly customer-centric product. He describes how, through organizational and tech leadership, Beam Dental creates a strong feedback loop between the development teams and the needs of the end customer. Forming tight awareness and close feedback loops to get the product offering absolutely right.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • Why it’s important to invest in development that sets the groundwork for future innovation and product agility.
  • Creating high performing engineering teams that fully own their work.
  • What is ‘Sentiment Analysis’?
  • How to improve the success of a product by having more eyes on the customer’s needs.

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
Reach out to us.


Podcast: Humanizing AI with Swathi Young

Swathi Young

CTO at Integrity Management Services

Podcast – Episode 14:
Humanizing AI

The future is not all AI dystopia & terminator (creating technology ethics, transparency, and fairness)

You hear a lot about AI. It’s a bit of a buzz word, right?! Often misused and misreported. One area that is starting to get a lot of debate space is the ethics around this mystifying and still futuristic technology. It’s an important subject that is starting to have an impact on our everyday lives. As we all know, the world we live in is full of data, and it’s creating more and more consistently and relentlessly. With big data comes opportunities to be one step ahead, to help, to enhance human life, and on the dark side, oppress and control. So the subject of ethics around this subject is an important one. One that we should all take heed of. Especially us tech leaders out there.

“I believe that the [AI] future is imminent and we all think about the future in multiple ways… Some of us think about the utopian future. Some of them think about a dystopian future … ”

Swathi Young shares her expertise in this Podcast, her hopes, and her vision for AI. Especially around the ethics and impact it has on us humans now, and in the future. Swathi is an expert in the field of ethics and AI. In fact, at the time of the recording of this Podcast, she was currently working with the US Government creating an ethics framework for this emergent technology.

Key takeaways from the Podcast are:

  • What is Humanizing data?
  • How can we start considering the ethics of AI?
  • What is ‘Sentiment Analysis’?
  • Tips for tech leaders on where to start when considering AI in their products and organizations

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

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Podcast: A new shiny large-scale simulation tool for the SME toolbox

David Freed

CTO at OnScale 

Podcast – Episode 13:

A new shiny large-scale simulation tool for the SME toolbox

(Democratizing supercomputing power that’s easy to use, low cost, and on tap)

Whenever one reflects on huge steps in innovation, we usually see some disruptive democratizing of capabilities. Where the tools of the elite, and those with deep pockets, become available to the masses. Well, that’s what this Podcast is about! It’s about democratizing this ability to have large supercomputer platforms’ capabilities, brought to the toolbox of SME businesses. 

 … it’s just so difficult to go after the big prize right away. You want to set up an achievable development path that gets you some milestones and some wins along the way.” 

In the context of this disruptive story is an interesting and passionate tech leader, David Freed. CTO of OnScale, a company leading the way in achieving the democratization of high-level computing for large scale simulation. David is a self-confessed computer engineering geek with a background in Physics, chemical engineering, and a Ph.D. in fluid dynamics (in the context of Nuclear waste disposal). A heady mix of subjects all converging on a passion for bringing disruption to a niche market, thus gifting groundbreaking capabilities to the SME market. 

David shares his desires and vision for OnScales platform, his leadership style to achieve this, and what he wishes for tech leaders out there. 

Key takeaways from the Podcast are: 

  • How novel solutions can bring historically expensive, out of reach capabilities to the masses by being bold, creative, and establishing cost-reducing ideas. 
  • How businesses can accelerate innovation through affordable large scale simulations (removing complexity and need for deep expertise) 
  • How to be a leader in a disruptive business and getting the best out of your teams 

TDLR: Straight to the point
(Quick Links)

We all live busy lives, and sometimes a long Podcast is too much of a time-footprint for our busy schedules. So, to help you get to the bit you’re more interested in, use our table of contents below. Quick links to help you get straight to the point.

Transform your technology organization with IT Labs teams.
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