Gulfstream Aerospace, a key business unit of General Dynamics, is a household name in technologically advanced business aircraft. It all began with The Grumman Gulfstream I in 1958, and today it has about 3,000 business jets in service worldwide. With company headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, Sheryl Bunton, the company\u2019s SVP and CIO, joined in 2015 to lead the manufacturer\u2019s Business Technology Unit, meaning she oversees all the technology solutions, cybersecurity, and digital transformation strategies companywide. This is a role unique to other high-level ones she\u2019s had in manufacturing since before, if something was sold, it would be made and delivered the next quarter. At Gulfstream, what\u2019s sold today might not be delivered for years. And when an aircraft is created, it could be in service for 40 years or more. It\u2019s an extraordinary manufacturing journey, she says, one with a long view that requires cohesive teams that have to be simultaneously focused on immediate tasks as well as on a distant horizon. It also means having a deep understanding of what\u2019s needed and what isn\u2019t.\n\n\u201cWe have to make sure we\u2019re not always chasing the next shiny, and not doing our duty around the digital transformation that exists already,\u201d she says. \u201cWe have a full plate for the next four years and that\u2019s our focus because otherwise, you can get distracted. We need to dedicate our time, treasure and change management to getting transformation done.\u201d\n\nAfter all, decisions she makes have ripple effects across the organization. \u201cI\u2019m not trying to equip five people,\u201d she says. \u201cI\u2019m trying to equip 5,000.\u201d And despite a deeply stoic disposition, Bunton understands that to be an effective leader, it\u2019s important to check on people\u2014now more than ever\u2014particularly on those new in their career or newer to the company who don\u2019t have an established network to rely on.\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s a weird and rough time I think we\u2019re not going to get out of for a few more years, so let\u2019s be good humans and check on each other,\u201d she says. \u201cWhen people are under sustained, long-term, incredible pressure, you see who\u2019s a good leader, and who maybe needs some coaching. But find some humor in the dark times. It\u2019s always there.\u201d\n\nCIO Leadership Live host Maryfran Johnson recently interviewed Bunton, where they discussed digital business acceleration, IT\u2019s agility layer, celebrating female representation in the C-suite, and more. Here are some edited excerpts of that conversation. Watch the full video below for more insights.\n\nOn the digital transformation journey: Everything we do is customer-centric, making sure our customers have a great experience either in the aircraft that\u2019s delivered or how they interact with us on our customer support side. We have a fair amount of legacy debt, and my team and I think about how to execute well; how to get from A to B. Because you can\u2019t say, \u201cGive me $100 million in five years and I\u2019ll get back to you with a lovely little digital environment.\u201d That\u2019s where we came up with the agility layer, which is essentially a cockpit that takes eight disparate systems and puts them all into a new digital front end so people don\u2019t have to sign into all the different systems. It does this work behind the scenes that used to be very manual. So instead of printing a bunch of paper and then writing all the part numbers and remembering the work instructions, you can now bring your laptop onto the plane being built, see it all there, and have confidence to know it\u2019s right. So when we talk about agility layer, it\u2019s important to understand the underlying technology and that this strategy equips and improves our shop floor.\n\nOn the Business Technology Unit: I\u2019m fortunate to have an extraordinary leadership team that has stuck with me. We like to say we are trauma-bonded from how we built this place, starting seven years ago. A major thing we want to think about is how we deliver going forward, and make sure everything we do makes sense for the business. In terms of structure, I have three application teams dedicated to certain parts of the business. One focuses just on our engineering and innovation of the flight group, all the product lifecycle management (PLM) stuff. We have a highly engineered product and something like 2,500 engineers that cross all different parts of the business. Then I have a fantastic global infrastructure team. We do almost everything insource, so we manage our environment. Third is my information security cyber team. I\u2019m fortunate they\u2019ve all stayed with me through some very difficult years.\n\nOn supply chain setbacks: The challenge now is getting anything\u2014access points, servers. We\u2019re used to having safety stock at a variety of different suppliers. And our partners always took great care of us. We could need something and get it within a day or two. Now it\u2019s months. There was something big we needed to do and they gave me a timeline of 42 weeks. At that point, let\u2019s not call it weeks; let\u2019s just say a year. You have to plan with an even further horizon. I hope it gets better, but I don\u2019t think it will for another 18 to 24 months.\n\nOn hybrid working: If you go into one of our hangars and see this incredible aircraft being built, and the work that goes into it and the level of commitment, quality, and detail, and just the sheer beauty of these things, you have an appreciation that you take back to your support work and say, \u201cWhat can I do to make this easier and better?\u201d You don\u2019t get that from being fully remote, whether because you\u2019re an outsource employee or you don\u2019t come to the office. It\u2019s that connection to what we do and what it\u2019s like to be on the shop floor, and actually experience what our people experience. We started coming back from the pandemic outages in June 2020, far sooner than many others. It was great foresight because the longer people are home full-time, the less they want to come back. And I get that. But it\u2019s even more than culture. It\u2019s when you\u2019re in manufacturing, when you make things for a living, three-quarters of your organization can\u2019t work from home. You can\u2019t build a landing gear in your dining room. And you have that \u201cYou get to work from home and I don\u2019t,\u201d equity piece to pay attention to. The other thing is if you work full-time from home and you want to lead people, you aren\u2019t going to get there in your career until you go back to the office at least part-time.\n\nOn female representation: We recently started a women\u2019s employee resource group and I\u2019m the executive sponsor. Particularly in light of labor challenges, you need diverse talent more than ever. There\u2019s been oceans of ink spilled about the difficulties for women in IT and we have as much as I can find, but I\u2019d like it to be a lot more balanced than it is now. I am very intentional about development for the women in my organization. One of our largest business units is run by a woman and my boss has been terrific about bringing women onto the leadership team, myself included. I hope it\u2019s very different for the next generation since I spent most of my career as the only woman in the room. That\u2019s a hard place to be, and something if we are intentional about, can be different down the line. We need to share our experience, make sure opportunities are presented, and lift women up.