When I learned that Atilla Tinic was DISH Network\u2019s new CIO, I had a lot of questions. How did the executive committee define the CIO role? How did he prepare for the interview? What was compelling about the opportunity? How did he get started?\nTinic was kind enough to answer my questions on the record. Please enjoy my conversation with Tinic, who describes his approach to the interviews and the new job.\n[ Learn from your peers: Check out our State of the CIO 2019 report on the challenges and concerns of CIOs today. | Find out the 7 skills of successful digital leaders and the secrets of highly innovative CIOs. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]\n--------------------------------------------------------\nMartha Heller: In some ways, your new job begins with the interview. How did you prepare for it? \nAtilla Tinic: DISH Network is a Fortune 250 company in Denver, where I\u2019ve have lived for over 20 years, so I thought I was already pretty familiar with the company. But, nevertheless, I started to do my research. As I learned more, I began to appreciate DISH as a company that is built on an entrepreneurial spirit. Sling TV, the first live over-the-top (OTT) TV service, is a good example, as is DISH\u2019s whole-home smart solutions, which they\u2019ve been delivering to customers for almost a decade.\nAnd then there is the wireless business. I learned that DISH had purchased a substantial amount of wireless spectrum with the goal of becoming the first standalone 5G network in the U.S. That was all extremely exciting to me.\nHow did you decide to take the job? \nI did a lot of self-reflection. I saw considerable relevance between where I\u2019ve been and where the company is going. Earlier in my career, I was at a competitive local exchange provider, Time Warner telecom, which was very much like a start-up. We built and implemented that IT ecosystem from scratch, and I got to see it flourish in the business, survive acquisition and take on a whole new playing field of products and competitors. The entrepreneurial spirit of my former company seemed to thrive in DISH. So, I realized that while the DISH CIO role was new to me, it also brought me back to where I started.\nDuring your interviews, what did the executive committee articulate as major goals for the CIO role? \nDISH runs multiple lines of business: DISH TV, Sling TV, Smart Home services, and Wireless. They were looking for someone who could drive efficiencies in each of those businesses, and they viewed my background in telecom as relevant to each one of them. \n DISH Network\n\nAtilla Tinic, CIO and SVP, DISH Network\n\n\nThey also wanted the CIO to drive a culture of innovation, generate curiosity about technology, and look for ways to embed technology in everything they did. The DISH brand promise is \u201cTuned In To You,\u201d with a focus on delivering the best experience. For instance, technology can be a means to serve our customers even better, from automated self-help tools, to utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to equip agents to answer a customer\u2019s question more effectively.\nThey talked about DISH\u2019s CPAW culture: curiosity, pride adventure, and winning, and wanted to be sure my philosophy and approach aligned with those values.\nWhat approach did you take to your first three months on the job? \nFirst, I wanted to learn the organization. That meant spending a lot of time with peers, with my direct reports, and with my greater team in \u201ccoffee chats,\u201d where I sit with different groups of people on my team.\nWith my stakeholders, I went into each conversation with a set list of questions around their business priorities, their perception of IT, and their needs.\nBy meeting with my peers, I encountered what I think many CIOs hear: More IT is better. I talked about a culture of integrating technology into everything we do, and there was a visibly insatiable appetite from peers in the company. That\u2019s job security, but also a challenge.\nAlso, DISH runs a program called Base Camp, where every employee, from individual contributors to C-level executives, learn what our customer service agents do every day. We learn this by actually doing the service agents\u2019 job. We are trained on how to take a call and go into the field with technicians and help with installs of service. Through this program, I learned what it would have otherwise taken me a year to learn.\nWhat changes did you make early on?\nSome CIOs make the mistake of trying to put their own brand on the group and make overarching changes before they understand why the team operates the way it does. I wanted to embrace all of the good things that were happening to avoid disrupting the flow of delivery and alienating my team. My job, in the beginning, was to provide a third-party perspective. \nYou may have a great strategy, but if it doesn\u2019t align with the culture it will likely fail." \u2014 Atilla Tinic, CIO and SVP, DISH Network\nVia that process, I noticed some major assets, like a very good target architecture, leveraging the cloud for new lines of business, and strong development capabilities. There were also areas where I wanted us to continue to advance, including increasing our footprint in technologies like machine learning, intelligent process automation, enhanced collaboration tools, and ongoing maturity improvements in our DevOps journey.\nI spent time on overall organizational structure and program management. How well are we aligned with our business? How are we managing our programs? What technologies are we investing in? How are we weighting different technologies? And how are we measuring results?\nIn retrospect, is there anything you would have changed about the approach? \nI am still too early in the job to see my approach in hindsight, but I did make sure to understand that because my industry background is so close to DISH\u2019s, I might be dealing with systems and vendors that I\u2019ve worked with before. I am doing my best to not come in with a ready answer based on my past experiences. Sometimes I think I see a path, and I want to move expeditiously, but I want to be sure I am not making any assumptions based on a pre-conceived bias. \nWhat advice do you have for CIOs just starting a new job? \nI can think of three things. The first is that your greatest asset is your people. Spend as much with them as possible. The second is to make sure you are using your EQ [emotional quotient] as much as your IQ. It will ensure you listen and empathize. Finally, make sure you understand the company culture as you set your strategy. You may have a great strategy, but if it doesn\u2019t align with the culture it will likely fail. Just like the old adage says, \u201cCulture eats strategy for breakfast.\u201d \nAbout Atilla Tinic\nAs senior vice president and CIO, Atilla Tinic leads IT strategy and operations for the DISH TV, Sling TV, and Wireless groups. His focus is on delivering best-in-class customer, employee, and partner experiences across the company\u2019s brands and businesses by delivering innovative technology services and solutions. Prior to DISH, Tinic was a senior vice president, IT with CenturyLink ,as well as CIO of Level 3 Communications. His 25-year information technology and telecommunications career began with leadership positions at Bell Canada, Bell Sygma, Saville Systems, American Management Systems (AMS) and tw telecom. He received a BA degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Applied Science from the University of Denver.\n\nMore on the CIO role today:\n\n Wanted: CIOs to master digital strategy at the vanguard of change \n How CIOs can last longer than 4.3 years \n The case against the 'business-minded CIO \n CIO resumes: 6 best practices and 4 strong examples \n New CIO? Your transition playbook in 10 (not-so-easy) steps \n How successful IT leaders take charge from day one \n CIO succession planning in the digital age \n CIO playbook: 10 tips for leading IT in the digital era \n How CIOs transform IT for the digital era \n From CIO to CEO: 8 tips for taking your career to the top \n State of the CIO, 2019: CIOs get strategic\n 7 reasons CIOs quit (or lose their jobs) \n 8 CIO archetypes: What kind of IT leader are you?