He is a person with an extraordinary professional journey and a persona that you’ll instantly recognize once you get to know him. He has a contagious, positive approach to work and life that motivates all around him to give their best. If you check his bio, you’ll find that you’re speaking to a man with an impressive background: a former engineer transformed into a business agility coach, as well as being the host of the IT Labs podcast CTO Confessions and Webinar series. That’s TC in a nutshell, but there’s so much more, which is why we set up an interview with the man behind the IT Labs mic.

TC Gill, interviewITL: Hello, TC… 

TC: Well helllloooooo. Always good to be speaking with you.

ITL: How is living in London at the moment? 

TC:  I work in London. Which is a city I love! Or the big smoke as we like to call it. The energy and diversity of thinking is huge there. You can feel it in the space. I remember speaking to a business leader who had settled in London, and of all the travels he had been on, he felt London was the most international in the world. A real constructive mix of cultures. I agree with this. The variation in people, their thinking, and ideas are huge there.  

So, I work in London, but my home-home is in a lovely town at the heart of England called (Royal) Leamington Spa. In fact, there is a tree not far from our house that used to mark the center of England. I think the true mathematical/science-based location has shifted now, but historically Leamington was one of a number of towns/villages that tried to take this crown. I love it here as it’s a short walk out into the countryside, with reliable transport links to the north and South (London, etc.) 

Love London, Love Leamington Spa, love the UK. Even in these challenging Covid19 times. 

ITL: This COVID situation changed plenty of things overnight. How did things change for you? 

TC:  Well, it was an interesting time personally when the “interesting-times” landed on us all (i.e. Covid-19). I was in New York at the time helping out at the Business Agility Institute conference when the pandemic got announced. Once the conference had finished, I managed to get an early flight back to the UK. Just in time by the looks of it.  

After self-isolating for two weeks away from my family in the same house (which was fun ?), we managed to get into a good routine as a family. My 12-year daughter slipped into a productive routine of schooling remotely. Rebecca, my partner, has done an absolutely heroic job of supporting our daughter and me. We are very lucky beneficiaries of her kindness and support. 

As for work, I was in a period that meant that working from home was already part of my routine. When the Covid-19 hit, the work with IT Labs went up a few notches. This is around creating the tech community. The outcome of this has been the CTO confessions Podcast and Webinar series.  

Though I prefer to be in the company of my team, working remotely with IT Labs CEO and his sales and marketing people has been hugely fun (and challenging). I just love the culture we have here. We are professional with a good serving of all the other activities and behaviors that bring out the best in people (a nice mix of learning, fun, and experimentation) 

On the downside, not being able to visit family (especially my mum) has been tough. However, that is starting to ease up now.  

ITL: Spending so much time at home has its perks. You are working and having fun as a host of IT Labs Podcast and Webinars. 

TC: Yes, I love this. Meeting lots of interesting Tech leaders, leadership, and business transformation people. Weve also been working on setting up the IT Labs Business Agility service offer. This is where the core of my passions resideBut interviewing people from all around the world and bringing those recordings to the tech community with insights and takeaways is great. It’s fun, and also a really smart way of supporting others. I love the idea of helping others and creating communities that do the same.

ITL: How does the process of prepаration look like for you for the Podcast and the Webinars? 

TC: That’s a good question. It starts with a name. Either someone we know or someone interesting that has appeared on our radar. We prepare a document for them, knowledge of the person (why we find them interesting), and then extract out potential subjects and ideas. 

We then proceed to have a discovery meeting with the potential guest, with myself, one of our tech leaders or co-founders. A warm chat to explore ideas. This then sets the scene for the headline topic and questions that can spark a thought-provoking conversation. 

On the day of the recording, we have a nice warm-up session where we talk about “stuff.” This is so that host (me) and guests can connect on the human level and just relax. With my sense of humor and personal curiosity, we have a good conversation and set ourselves up for the recording. By the time we start, I like to think the guest is solely focused on the interactions between the two of us and not concerned about the recording of the session. I want to believe this creates a warm atmosphere to have an enlightened conversation. 

ITL: You are an engineer, in love with business agility, and now a host. How does your background help with the preparation? 

TC:  I have lived and breathed technology for many years, from: 

  • Semiconductor engineering at university 
  • Acquiring a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics 
  • Designing industrial embedded controllers (computers) 
  • Developing-designing embedded software systems 
  • Leading teams that do the above. 

By “knowing”, “leading in”, and “living” technology, I feel gives me a good perspective. In the later years, my passions turned to help the amazing boys and girls that work in this field, work as high performing teams. So, I guess it’s a heady mix of experience, curiosity, and passion for an industry I love. 

ITL: You are a big part of IT Labs initiative to share knowledge with the tech leaders through various channels (Podcast, Webinar, White Papers, Articles…). In your opinion, what are the biggest lessons that a tech leader can learn through our content? 

TC:  For me, its about sparking alternative thinking and developing a discussion around important topics. We here at IT Labs are passionate about the Tech community, and the role tech leaders play. Its about putting these incredibly smart people more to the forefront of organizations, challenging them to stretch their ideas and be brave to try new things. This is what mine and IT Labs hopes are. Not forgetting the quality and innovation of what we deliver as tech leaders. Its not just about outputs, but outcomes that serve the end customer and the wellbeing of the organization. 

ITL: And what did you learn through this whole experience? You have an amazing chance to talk with people who walked the walkwhich lessons had the biggest impact on you personally? 

TC:  The impact on me personally is the journey these leaders have taken. I always find this fascinating. The lessons there are inspirational and trigger new paths of curiosity for the listener. From the key takeaways, the journey creates deeper learning. Learning to learn almost, in the spirit of changing the game of ones progression, and that of the teams we lead. I guess what I am talking to here is the human element of tech leadership. 

ITL: What makes a great tech leader?  

TC:   Someone who has the following characteristics 

  • Great people leadership. Life-affirming leadership while delivering the outcomes that customers need. Making sure what they are working on is the right thing for the current time, with a solid business case, even if it’s an innovation in a market that is yet to be realized!  
  • Curious. Willing to experiment and encourage it in their teams. 
  • A people person. Understanding the human element of organizations 
  • Business Agility Leader: Someone that sees the importance of their role in the organization as a whole. Not just delivering what is asked of them, but the outcomes the organization needs. 

ITL: Do you have a specific person in mind as an example? A person that is a fantastic leader in today’s world? 

TC:  Bill Gates. He is someone whom I look up to. On top of that, he’s a good person (I believe). His impact is far-reaching and still relevant. He holds many lessons and learning for leaders in technology and leadership in general. Not forgetting the philanthropic humanity activities with his wife. 

ITL: And what are the biggest challenges in a world where technology changes at a fast pace?  

TC:  From an organization level, it’s about reinventing what organizations are doing and the way they go about it. From a systems-thinking perspective, it’s regarding the creation and maintenance of healthy social and operational systems within the org.  

So, while we live in this “innovation storm,” it’s the speed of change that I think is the issue now. Change that batters these two systems (social and operational). The key here is to create more distributed leadership, with an increased number of people throughout the organization taking the lead in their local work, and then feeding back relevant information to the layers above. Again, there is a social and operational perspective on this. Both of which need to be maintained, refined, and maybe even reinvented periodically. 

ITL: Which person would you like to interview in the future? 

TC:  Probably the singer Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine), and what she thinks about leading in technology. O… that won’t be possible. I see what you are saying… Yes, on reflection, she probably wouldn’t have much to say on technology. Maybe she could sing about it ?

Seriously though. It would have to be Bill Gates, and maybe his wife as well (on what it’s like living with a tech leader). 

I just want to know more about a man who technologically went from technological advances to advance. Also, to know more about the mistakes.  

Areas I would love to cover are: 

  • His journey as a leader 
  • His personal development over that journey 
  • How technology can be a force for life-affirming change 
  • His and his wife’s philanthropy 
  • Where he sees technology going 

ITL: What’s your message to the tech leaders out there?  

TC: I have lots of things to say on this subject, probably too much ? haha. I will try and keep it to the top three.  

#1 Leading the organization: 

To you, tech leaders… Dont underestimate the importance of your role. Yes, of course, you are important to the technological side of the organizations activities. What I am referring to is the Business Agility piece, i.e. seeing your role as important to the wellbeing of the company as a whole. Everything from serving the customer, the central actor in everything we do in and for the organization, and also the organization itself. Most (if not all, organizations) are woven into the digital fabric of the world. Anything the organization does touches technology in one way or another. So, its imperative that you and your teams sit alongside the other key activities in the organization, and collaborate on how they can run more smoothly with the best ideas and most progressive outcomes. You, the tech leader, understand the landscape of your current and future technology needs and driving these forward. Not just delivering what the business wants, but what it needs to grow and innovate continuously. 

#2 People & Leadership: 

 Yes, we are delivering technology. And yes, that can seem very logical and easier to focus on in many respects. The And to this is that the people are equally important. The way you lead has a direct impact on the creativity, productivity, and innovation that your people will deliver. Im going to point to a perspective of leadership that I train others in, which is Co-Active leadership. The time we have is not going to allow me to cover all its many facets and outcomes it can encourage. But what it does is deliver collaborative, transparent, challenging, productive work environments. One where all players in the game win; the people (including the leadership), the organization (including suppliers), and finally the customer themselves (Win3) .

#The right people:

Surround yourself with the right people around you. This isnt just skilled individuals. This is people that have the right attitude, ones that are team players, and have an Agile mindset. Remove problem generators from your teams as soon as possible, no matter how smart they are. These toxic individuals are doing the teams and organization no favors in the long run. And by keeping them in their status quo, you are doing them no favors either.  

Turn people into life-affirming leaders in their own right. Not only will this make your life easier, but there is also something noble and satisfying in knowing that you are growing people.

ITL: Well, thank you for your time TC. Actually, before we go, what’s your real name? 

TC:  Haha ? It’s a tricky one, but I like it. It’s just a challenge for others. 

Wait for it. My real full name is Tarlochan Singh Gill. Though I am not a practicing Sikh, the middle name ‘Singh’ means Lion or Lion’s heart. My heritage is one of a warrior class that fought for justice and equality since the 17th century.  

Fun fact: Sikihms was the first major religion to give women equal rights. Something we see a lot of in my family. Tough, strong women with good hearts that speak as equals. 

And my first name! Sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, right!? Its pronounced “Tar-Lock-An”. It’s another interesting name, meaning the all-seeing eye. 

ITL: Well, that was interesting, thanks for sharing that. Thanks again, TC. 

TC:  It’s been nice to share my thoughts and reinforce what I and IT labs are about. I look forward to another interview with one of our esteemed tech leader guests. Meanwhile, a big shout-out to our tech audience to subscribe to our Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes, and make sure you follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter so you can be notified on time when we organize a new Webinar.

PS: Are you sure you can’t arrange an interview with Florence? 

ITL: We’ll see what we can do TC ? 

 

Maja Tanushoska

Digital Marketing Specialist