IT innovation takes flight at Embry-Riddle

Innovation isn’t an end goal; it’s a means to creating a positive business impact. That won’t happen, at least not reliably, without taking a strategic approach.

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“How do we change IT from being a Department of No?”

Four years ago, that was the question Becky Vasquez faced when she assumed the CIO role at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide. IT at Embry-Riddle, like a lot of traditional enterprise IT departments, had somewhat of a negative reputation among its customers around the university when Vasquez arrived. She resolved to make IT a respected, valued, full-fledged partner working with faculty and administrators on transformative technology projects. This took planned, persistent effort.

Restructuring for visibility

When she arrived, Vasquez had two direct reports responsible for managing a majority of the university’s IT team. But the structure wasn’t working. “I was losing visibility into the IT organization, and I wasn’t able to reach up and down quickly and pivot,” she says. So, IT was restructured into six key areas: customer engagement and support; applications and productivity; networks; servers and cloud administration; cybersecurity; and the office of the CIO, which includes Vasquez, the architecture team, the project management office, and administrative operations, each of which is headed by an executive director who reports directly to Vasquez.

Since the restructuring, communication up and down the IT ranks has increased and become more efficient, Vasquez says. Still, she knows that whenever you have any kind of divisions, you can potentially create silos, which work against the goal of tighter integration with the business.

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