Michael Smith, CIO for Mylan Laboratories, and Mario Carvajal, Senior VP, Global Financial Services, EPG Sales for AvePoint, discussed the need for change in traditional IT and how culture can build high-performance teams.
Mario Carvajal: One of the things that we find CIOs are looking at is this explosion in data and how information can transform especially the IT side of the house. How are you leveraging information in order to enable Mylan to drive results and succeed in the competitive marketplace?
Michael Smith: I’ll begin by telling you a little bit about where we were a year ago. Last year, we did not have any true business intelligence capabilities. We had a group that we called our business intelligence team, but it was comprised of only two people who worked in Finance IT. Their focus was simply running reports for compliance purposes.
There was no emphasis on true analytics, predictive or otherwise, and certainly nothing beyond finance from an organized capability standpoint. You obviously can’t effectively run a business as large as ours without sufficient analytics and solid information. Because we didn’t have the right technology or ability within IT, we weren’t necessarily getting the insights needed to be agile and make informed decisions.
We also had a lot of siloed systems. We primarily built systems on a one-off basis. When we realized we needed information from these systems, we built links with a very singular purpose without the context of an integration strategy or framework.
One of my first priorities at Mylan was to build out a business intelligence capability and develop an integration strategy. Since we did not have a lot of in-house expertise in some areas, we brought in people who knew business analytics, business intelligence, integration and master data management. We acquired and are implementing a state-of-the-art integration platform, SAP HANA, with Business Objects over top of it. We’ve begun feeding information into the system, which is a game changer due to the platform’s in-Memory databases and what you can do with Business Objects. It is as if we’ve gone from 1995 to 2020 in just a few months. I would say that Mylan is now on the leading edge of business analytics.
"Security, data privacy and compliance are job one for any CIO, so it’s definitely top-of-mind for me."
When it comes to the center of knowledge management and dealing with adoption of those practices, how are you looking ahead to sustain that changing workforce?
We are capturing our practices and documenting what we’re doing at every step. From a talent standpoint, data scientists and data visualization are scarce skills in the marketplace, so we’re trying to build out these capabilities internally as much as possible.
We also are changing how we use the information available to us. We are hosting our first “hackathon” around competitive intelligence in partnership with regional colleges and universities. We also have internal Mylan teams participating in the event.
The challenge for the hackathon is simple: Help Mylan better meet society's changing healthcare needs by designing a solution that provides its employees with the right information at the right time.
We think the hackathon is a huge opportunity for us. Not only does it provide our employees with the opportunity to think differently about a real world problem, but it also makes us rethink how we recruit the world-class talent at Mylan.
When it comes to recruiting, I’m not thinking about an IT organization for a $7 billion company; I’m thinking about an IT organization for a $20 billion company. The Carnegie Mellon student who joins me today is going to be the world-class data scientist seven years from now.
It sounds like you guys are looking at business intelligence to drive productivity. What about the way your workforce communicates? Do you find that collaboration and communication between employees also is something that has to evolve over time in order to adapt to your BI efforts?
We’re looking at communication and collaboration across our company at Mylan, not just from an IT perspective. If you think about where we are in our lifecycle as a 53-year-old corporation, the reality is that we have only been a global company for a little more than 6 years.
In 2007, Mylan acquired a controlling interest in Matrix, our API division, and we became vertically integrated. The same year, we acquired Merck’s KGaA’s generics business, which took us from a North American company to a global company overnight. When I was at Nike, we were almost exactly at the same point in our own lifecycle when we hit $7 billion and started to truly become global, so I see some parallels between our companies.
If you’re going to run an integrated company, you must focus on collaboration.
"It is as if we’ve gone from 1995 to 2020 in just a few months. I would say that Mylan is now on the leading edge of business analytics."
Are you concerned with regulation when it comes to collaboration? We often hear a lot of organizations asking questions around how do we audit the information our employees and go-to-market partners' access. Who’s touching the information or what information can be stored in the cloud? What are the challenges you see around how a program is appropriately structured so that people can share the right type of information?
Integrity is very important to us at Mylan. In fact, it is one of our core values. Compliance, ethics and doing what’s right are an engrained part of our culture, probably more so here than with any other company I’ve seen.
Working in a regulated industry, data security and privacy are always a priority. We’ve done a tremendous amount of due diligence and audits from a security standpoint. We are also only partnering with well-regarded, world-class companies whenever we put anything in the cloud or use third-party hosting.
From a privacy standpoint, we ensure that our suppliers understand the compliance and regulatory requirements of our industry. We also have a lot of internal governance over data security and data privacy, representing a broad cross-functional group.
Security, data privacy and compliance are job one for any CIO, so it’s definitely top-of-mind for me.
When you’re a global organization and you’re scaling the technology to enable that collaboration, are you finding that data sovereignty is also top-of-mind? Organizations with a regional presence may have teams that are mobile and working across these boundaries, and when information gets shared, implementing the boundaries sometimes becomes difficult. How do you balance that?
With Mylan selling products in approximately 140 countries and territories, data sovereignty can be complex. I think the first step to tackling the data sovereignty concern is to classify your data. Once your data is classified, you can be very specific about where it’s stored, where it’s hosted and who has access to it.
Mario Carvajal is Senior Vice President of Global Financial Services and Enterprise Sales for AvePoint, charged with establishing AvePoint as the predominant provider of technology and business application software.
A business executive with more than 18 years in international software business development experience, Mario applies his extensive background to architect comprehensive solutions utilizing AvePoint’s product line and growing technology software license revenue. Mario’s strong business acumen enables him to focus on direct business alignment with the technology and the delivery of practical, cost-effective IT solutions for enterprise collaboration platforms.
Michael Smith is responsible for leveraging the power of process and technology to help Mylan fulfill its mission of setting new standards in health care and providing 7 billion people access to high quality medicine.
To this end, Smith leads a worldwide team of information technology professionals who are pursuing an ambitious strategy that supports the company’s ongoing transformation and growth. The strategy’s imperatives include building for sustainability and scale; powering the global customer platform; making information a competitive weapon; helping employees connect, collaborate and communicate; and innovating in ways that will allow Mylan to meet unmet needs and change the world. Further, Smith is transforming the company’s IT infrastructure by optimizing operations; mastering the fundamentals of running IT as a business; and attracting, developing and deploying world-class talent.
In addition, Smith is responsible for Mylan’s global business services organization, which centralizes the management of global or regional transactional activities so as to drive scale, efficiency and consistency, and better leverage expertise and best practices. Run out of locations in India, Ireland and the U.S., the organization supports the company’s finance, human relations, procurement, IT and commercial operations, all of which serve Mylan’s business lines worldwide.
Smith, who reports directly to Mylan’s CEO, also is helping to shape the company’s future by serving on its Strategy, Business Transformation, Performance, Operating, Talent and Conformance executive committees. Additionally, he co-chairs the company’s Digital executive committee.
Prior to joining Mylan in 2012, Smith spent most of his career at Nike, the iconic global purveyor of sportswear and equipment, retiring from the company in July after 22 years of service. He started as an applications engineer and assumed positions of increasing responsibility in roles focused on information technology, sales operations, customer service, distribution and supply chain management. Most recently, he was the senior IT executive responsible for leading the company’s global geographies’ and affiliates’ chief information officers.
During his tenure at Nike, Smith distinguished himself as a highly respected leader and a driver of Nike’s innovation and transformation. For instance, he developed the company’s first worldwide digital commerce strategy and pioneered the incorporation of technology into the company’s products, greatly increasing their value to consumers. Under Smith’s leadership, his teams also implemented Nike+ in conjunction with Apple and created shoe customization technology for NikeiD and Converse One. He also provided the vision for internal and external social media platforms and led their implementation. In addition, Smith led the deployment of a global suite of state-of-the-art IT systems, which included SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel. Smith also developed and led Nike’s Inc 2015 Strategy, a business transformation effort designed to support the continued growth and success of all the company’s brands.
Earlier in his career, Smith worked in IT positions at AutoZone, an auto parts retailer, and at Malone and Hyde, a food distributor.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn.