Sage Therapeutics CTO Matt Lasmanis on the business transformation mindset


Matt Lasmanis, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Sage Therapeutics, joins host Maryfran Johnson for this CIO Leadership Live interview. They discuss high-growth biosciences, commercial CIO challenges, virtualized digital model, the business transformation mindset and more.

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[This transcript was auto-generated.]
Hi. Good afternoon and welcome to CIO Leadership Live. I'm your host, Maryfran Johnson, CEO of Maryfran Johnson Media. Twice a month we produce this video show and podcast. With the generous support of my friends at CIO Ecom and the CIO Executive Council, we're streaming live to you right now on LinkedIn and on our CIO channel on YouTube.
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And because we are streaming to you right now, we encourage any of our faithful viewers, our alert, our alert viewers that are dialing in to join the conversation in the chat with questions of your own. We have editors watching that space, and they will pass those questions along to me, and I will do my best to pass those along to my esteemed guest today who is Matt Lasmanis.
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He is the chief technology and innovation officer at Sage Therapeutics. Next month will actually mark Matt's three year anniversary at this Cambridge, Mass. Based biotech company, which he joined in November of 2020. That's mission there is focused on creating and leveraging a digital driven approach to data analytics, to digital health and bio biomarkers, AI and advanced analytics, cybersecurity and of course omni channel customer experiences.
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Sage is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing new therapies to treat people with debilitating disorders of the brain, including mood, cognition and behavioral issues. Earlier this year, the company received FDA approval for a new treatment to help women with postpartum depression. Before he joined, Sage, Matt spent 20 years with GlaxoSmithKline, most recently serving as the chief digital and technology officer for GSK, a multibillion dollar U.S. affiliate where he led a team of over 500 internal and external staff.
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Among his many roles at GSK over those two decades were in digital and technology leadership in R&D, oncology and specialty biopharmaceuticals. And then before GSK. Matt led the Digital Platforms team at HarperCollins Publishing. Matt, welcome. It's great to have you here today. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. And I know that we're speaking to you actually from Cambridge. You're in Boston.
00;02;26;27 - 00;02;46;21
You're actually having an all hands meeting today. So you are nearby. Yeah, that's right. We have an all hands today of my team. And really, we try to use our facilities for what they're good for, for our leadership sessions, as well as collaboration. And we also have a very flexible kind of remote working model as well during the course of business.
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So we call it sage, but great. So it's another way to show digital leadership, isn't it? Yeah. Now let's talk just a little bit about leaving a pretty enormous company at GSK and doing that for an emerging biotech biopharma company. Why was that a good move for you? And why is this such a transformative time in the field of biopharmaceuticals?
00;03;12;19 - 00;03;39;25
Matt Lasmanis
Yeah, I think it's a transformative time in biopharma. It was also a kind of a personal journey for me. Mary Fran. The folks that know me know I had somebody very close to me passed away from Alzheimer's disease a number of years ago, and that really taught me a lot of things about neuroscience. And I kind of said to myself, when I was looking for my next role, I really wanted to try to give back and make an impact in in brain health because it touches it touched my life.
00;03;39;25 - 00;04;00;09
Matt Lasmanis
I know it's touched many people's lives out there. And I really feel like the next decade, two decades, is really going to be the era of the brain where we attempt to understand these disease states and really try to drive an impact for patients. And so Sage Therapeutics is a leading company in brand health and really aligned with with my personal mission.
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And that was a big part of why I'm on the journey with with Sage trying to make an impact and and brand so well and it's pretty hard not to make an impact when you're there. Essentially while the field is still green, you didn't you don't have legacy ERP systems despite Mantle, you don't have 500 people in I.T. to lead there.
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Maryfran Johnson
So what has that been like for you as the you're not even a CIO, you're a CTO, technology and innovation. So how has that been different? Yeah, it's been a really exciting journey. You know, I think when I joined Sage a number of years ago, about three years ago, almost almost to the day now, really the mission was was, I guess, simple and complex in a way.
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I guess you could say. So, you know, sage had an i.t team, very skilled i.t operational team supporting kind of the foundations of the business. But what what the company was interested in doing was, you know, to your point, as the field of neuroscience is evolving, making sure that they build digital data analytics ai into the business model of the company.
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And I think at that point in time, it really it was the optimal time to do that. And had they done it earlier, I would have been a little too early. Had they done it later, would have insulated. So really the big goal was to make sure that we built, you know, the right capabilities and the right foundations to help the company, help the company scale for the future.
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I think I think it's it's really been helpful for me because when you're building a large organization in a large company, you develop a set of of leadership skills that are geared towards that kind of a macro environment. And I think it's, you know, growing my leadership set into something that's a more emerging, almost startup kind of company, you could say has really helped from, you know, developing agility, focus, pivoting and making sure you can react quickly as new developments and the company grows.
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And so I think it's it's been great for me to kind of leverage my corporate leadership skills and a bit of a smaller setting and drive impact essentially across the whole across the whole company. Because as you say, my role isn't just tech, it's capability driven. So everything we're doing from a capability perspective, transformation perspective, it's all within it's all within my set of responsibilities.
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Maryfran Johnson
It's great. Okay, let's let's leverage, let's pivot up to that 30,000 foot view of the industry. I was looking I was doing some research on the biotech industry and came across one source talking about the 13 best industries to invest in this year in 2023. And leading that list was biotech, and right behind it was artificial intelligence. So let's talk about what you have been, what sort of impact you've seen on Sage's business and on the customers during these past three years, especially.
00;06;53;16 - 00;07;17;21
And tell us also a little bit more about who those customers are. Sure. Sure. Yeah. So I think to your point is just a really exciting time to be in biotech. So it doesn't surprise me at all that the list that you look up, you know, and growth a biotech investing a growth of I you know to me what I'm very curious about is kind of the combination of those two things.
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So kind of not just making a biotech but making it bio tech, right, like making sure that we're we're leveraging the best of those both of those things and bringing them together to drive innovation across the overall value chain and across the overall business. So as you say, I think it's a it's an exciting time because it's not just about, you know, innovating in the lab anymore.
00;07;42;00 - 00;08;06;06
That's absolutely critically important. But it's also about making sure that we innovate across the entirety of our business model and really using the the digital plus the science innovation kind of that we do. And that's what's been exciting about Sage. I think to your point about the external world, you know, my team and our capabilities do that across the business models.
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So everything to your point from how we think about commercialization of a new product and channels engagement with customers through how we handle our clinical development processes to even how we think about early stage research. Right? And how we understand new designs of new molecules. All of those things are very data intensive processes. And now we really have the skills and the toolsets to make the best use of that data to drive value for the company and by proxy driving value and impact for for the patients out there.
00;08;41;15 - 00;09;07;21
So I'm biased. I'm a I'm a life science person. I was in a different industry before life science. But to to me personally, it's I couldn't imagine a more exciting industry and spot to be specifically in brand health as well at the moment. Well and I think to for for for the average public member life science and brain science probably sounds like they're pretty much in the same basket.
00;09;07;28 - 00;09;38;15
But when we talked earlier, you were saying that the brain health space is actually quite different. Explain that a little bit more. Why is it so different? It's very different and not, you know, not to get into a lot of the technical minutia of it, but if we just stay at a high level throughout my career, I've done a lot of work in oncology and and specialty diseases and other things where the the biomarkers, if you will, it's a technical term, but the biology of it is well characterized as well known.
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The ability to assay and understand those things is is really we all know about the brain is a bit of a different, a different space. There are certain there are certain diseases of the brain that we can only understand by asking questions and getting responses or using what are called validated instruments, which are basically the responses from from patients.
00;09;59;00 - 00;10;27;29
There are many disease states where that's the case, and there are, there are many where you can actually get a biologically derived test at the moment that's going to tell you something very quantitative biologically about the disease. States are different then in some ways a traditional one. But on the other hand, I think that that creates the environment where we can actually progress in brand health over the next decade or two and actually drive towards an improvement in quantification.
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And for the tech folks out there, what does that mean? Well, that means that if you're interested in brain health and you're interested in technology and you're interested in data, there is a lot of opportunity for you to get involved in the process and help with that evolution of brain health moving forward, where we're we're going to be fuzing the digital technologies kind of plus the science.
00;10;48;12 - 00;11;18;28
That's why it's so exciting. And it's interesting you say that it listening to you talk, it almost sounds like you're on you sound more like you're on the science team and on the technology team, really. And it's reminding me of how broad the role of CIO and chief Technology and innovation officers has become. What is is that very similar to the way you worked at GSK, or is this something new and exciting to you, having joined Sage that you're so involved in all of that?
00;11;19;00 - 00;11;44;22
I would say it's more in the new and exciting kind of in many ways. So I think, you know, my role while we do tech work, while there is a quote unquote i.t component of my role, it's a much more business oriented role where we're thinking about where is the company going in the future, what's the strategy of the company and importantly, like what are the capabilities and outcomes that we need to deliver to move that strategy for its America?
00;11;44;22 - 00;12;07;19
As you know, we don't use the words ITP that that sage was going to be my next question. You don't call it the IT department, though. Tell us about that and what you do call it, right? So we call it digital and enterprise capabilities. We call it Dak for sure. And you know, it's one of those things where our words are both important and unimportant, I guess, in a way.
00;12;07;19 - 00;12;36;19
Right? So so, no, no, no. You're preaching to the choir. I think words and the way we use language is very important. Right? And so, you know, the words you use to frame something kind of tells you a little bit about the mindset of what you're trying to do. Right. And so I we were thinking about the future of the team and the future of what we're trying to do really, our goal was to be a capabilities partner across the organization where we were driving transformation across the business process.
00;12;36;19 - 00;12;54;05
Yeah, that's what we still do. I.T. work, you know, all the hardware, software, all those things. But really the main growth of the team has been in digital data analytics capabilities and really driving that on behalf of the company. That's that's what's been so exciting. And and that was a very, very intentional, very intentional thing that we do.
00;12;54;05 - 00;13;15;05
And so what's interesting to me is that if you ask a new employee when they come in to say, Jeff, if we have an I.T Department, they'll probably tell you no because they've never heard the words i.t at say it. But what we have is we have dak we have a digital, but we don't have an i.t organization and i.t work is important.
00;13;15;05 - 00;13;33;17
It's just it's not how we frame our partnership with the company or our leadership at the company. Okay. Well, and that actually pivots nicely to my next question about your own marching orders. And, I mean, we've talked a little bit about why you decided to join the company and how this is a personal as well as a professional mission for you.
00;13;33;24 - 00;13;54;05
But coming into the role, what did the CEO and the rest of the leadership team, what did they want you to do for them in terms of creating a digital business model? Because we mentioned it's it's a growing field. So there's all kinds of exciting things you could do. Also lots of exciting mistakes you could make. So what were your marching orders coming in?
00;13;54;08 - 00;14;31;12
I think that that part was was great for me. So I think as anybody who's probably listening to this call knows, you know, the ability to go on a digital journey with any company, their skills are important, capabilities are important. But at the end of the day, leadership is critical. And I think what I found that sage was a group of leaders all the way up in the highest levels of the company that understood that infusing the organization with these kinds of skills and techniques and platforms was actually critical to the ability to grow in scale.
00;14;31;16 - 00;14;54;24
That was was very well, very, very well understood. What is really exciting for me as a as a new employee coming into the company, I think the part where where I fit in, I guess you could say, is how do we get there? Like we know, we know Point B is where we need to get to, but how do we do that and what are the things that we choose to do?
00;14;54;27 - 00;15;32;09
And importantly, you know, what are the things we choose not to do? You know, I think that sort of I know absolutely be critical because the one thing that I'm always coaching teams on is, you know, digital is not about chasing shiny objects. It's not about chasing problems that don't matter. Digital at its core, data analytics at its core is about what is the company trying to do, what are they trying to accomplish and how does that digital skill set of capabilities, skillset fit into transforming a firm to achieve what it's attempting to do and maybe drive what it's attempting to do?
00;15;32;09 - 00;15;53;13
So that that was kind of the role scope, I guess you could say, coming into it, you know, and that's what we did. So within 90 days of coming in, I'd actually met everybody in the company within 90 days, which was amazing. I couldn't have done that. But you can't do when there's more than 120,000 employees. Yeah, I couldn't have done that if I tried.
00;15;53;15 - 00;16;16;06
Right. And that was that was super, super great. And then, yeah, we just really thought about what was that journey and what was that road map. And, you know, interestingly, what, what talent did we need to bring in to the team to, to be able to achieve that? And I think where we are today, to your point is there wasn't a lot of legacy that was a huge positive.
00;16;16;06 - 00;16;31;11
We didn't have to fight to do that. And so now we have we've really established a new model that is the basis for the how the company operates. And now we're thinking about, okay, what's the next evolution, which funnily enough is is the all hands I'm in today with my team thinking about what the next evolution looks to.
00;16;31;13 - 00;16;52;17
What can you tell us about that? I feel like I should take advantage of the fact that you're there in an all hands. What are you being asked? Have there been any surprises, any good or bad surprises so far? no, I don't I don't think not too many surprises. I think what we're talking about now with my organization today is really thinking through.
00;16;52;20 - 00;17;12;13
You know, we when I got the stage, like I said, it was that I.T operations model that was running really well. So the analogy like, you punch the button, it works right? Awesome. The last couple of years have been about how do we transform, how we lead as a business, how do we develop new capabilities, how do we incubate the model?
00;17;12;15 - 00;17;52;22
This new out of 2.03.0, I lost track of divergence, but I know I feel like at this point we should be at four point something like that. Really, where where we're at, what we're thinking about now is aligning our structure with our strategy and assets. And so what do I mean by that? What I mean by that is really focusing in on the core platforms and products that we now own for the business, because we've built those now over the last couple of years and really infusing in a standard way, product oriented operating model across my whole team.
00;17;52;22 - 00;18;14;22
Right? So there are some, some of my teams by digital team and such are works very much in a product oriented operating model already other teams a little bit less so. And so this next evolution is making sure that, you know, for us from a structure point of view, from the strategy that all those things are intertwined and that we're driving a consistent kind of product and capability oriented model like across my whole team.
00;18;14;22 - 00;18;33;23
That's kind of the next the next evolution. Well, I know we're going to talk a little bit more, too, about what it means to be a commercial CIO. That's a conversation I've had with a lot of guests on the show, but we have a question from our alert watching audience, starting with a compliment. Great thoughts, Matt. So you need to keep that up right now.
00;18;33;25 - 00;19;16;03
Can you share one key digital initiative that you kicked off and one that you discontinued? Well, it's been more like I said, there there's there wasn't a lot of legacy. What I got here. I would say there is essentially zero legacy. So again, very unlike the that I won't use the word traditional. It's not the right word, but very much like the normal corporate environments I've typically operated in where refocusing kind of away from the legacy and transforming the legacy is not the case here very Greenfield I think, yeah, as I said, it was more about choosing what to do versus choosing what what not to do.
00;19;16;03 - 00;19;50;12
Okay. That that was really the key thing. Very different. My previous role to talk a lot about legacy but that that really wasn't the business. And maybe just to use a very different example to what the person is asking. Again, I'm not going to talk about digital widgets and that kind of stuff, but one of the things that we realized and it goes to the broader scope of the role when we were thinking about the roadmap and thinking about the fact that it wasn't just transforming my team, it was transforming the whole organization was that we didn't have a transformation capability.
00;19;50;12 - 00;20;13;02
There was there wasn't a like there wasn't a transformation person you could go talk to and say, hey, how do we transform things? And like that you are you were creating and building them out more than transforming. Right? Right. And so like a lot of things in biotech, when you ask that question of who's that, first of all, the answer is almost usually it's you, right?
00;20;13;04 - 00;20;54;11
So yeah, along with my my other role was becoming kind of our transformation officer was was was a component of that. So we actually created what we called our transformation office, mostly staffed with external external staff. It wasn't a lot of internal people, but we use that as the basis to pull together all of the different threads that we were pulling on on digital and capability development and transformation across the company and bring them together into one coherent capability area that is actually in my team, within the tech organizations and actually use that as a way to to coordinate and drive impact across everything that we were doing from a transformation angle across across Sage,
00;20;54;11 - 00;21;24;11
which which to me was exceptionally powerful. I don't think had we not taken that step, we probably wouldn't be where we are today with full fledged digital organization, analytics organization with of course, the platforms ops, cyber, you know, all those things were components of our transformation journey. And I think recognizing that you need transformation in and of itself as a capability and recognizing that we needed that skill set was, was core.
00;21;24;12 - 00;21;47;03
So that was one, one example. One thing that we realized we needed and we started very, very much at the beginning of the journey. So what about was there anything that you did get started as a digital initiative that it became apparent that it was too early or not going to have the the best results or it's just it's always tricky getting CIOs to talk about, well, what did you try that didn't work?
00;21;47;05 - 00;22;12;02
But in a lot of ways that can be so educational and important to your to your colleagues and your peers in i.t. Leadership. Yeah. What I would say there is some taking a little bit of a different example to what you're describing because because we work across the whole across the whole company is we do part of what we do is both in research and development, Right.
00;22;12;02 - 00;22;43;12
And currently for those that know biotech and pharma, but D is, it's the place where you're doing development work, research isn't your sandbox sandbox, it's your experiments. And so what's been important for us is as we're thinking about new things like novel digital biomarkers, incorporation of digital health technology into our clinical trials, it's been really critical that we don't get out ahead of what it is we're attempting to do.
00;22;43;12 - 00;23;03;04
So. So just as an example, there have been cases where we thought, Hey, this piece of technology would work for this product, this piece of technology would work for this program. But it's been very important not to get too far ahead of that and make sure that what we're attempting to do is tracking with the actual development program itself.
00;23;03;04 - 00;23;24;17
So there have been ideas, there have been things that we've progressed that we've said actually, well, we're going to pause that right now because that's not the right for the program. So it's my point there is whenever you're doing innovation and experimental work, it's just important to have the mindset of maintaining flexibility and knowing how to trick yourself into thinking like, Hey, I'm working on this.
00;23;24;19 - 00;23;42;16
This will be a permanent thing in the future that we're absolutely like, always maintain that stability And we've gotten to this point is this still the right decision? You know? Okay. Okay. Well, and let's let's auger in a little bit more and talk about the scope and the focus of your deck team today, your digital and enterprise capabilities.
00;23;42;20 - 00;24;05;03
It's not just internal folks, because the team is relatively small, a few dozen people, and I guess that's a fair assessment. All right. So how how do you have it structured? How are you managing all of that? Yeah. Yeah. Great question. So like I said, you know, our our thoughts about the structure and the operating model of decks follow the follow our strategy.
00;24;05;03 - 00;24;32;27
Right. And so right. I got to shock you to say here that one of our core teams is what we call digital innovation, right? Like that exists. When I got here, it's very important to how we commercialize new products as an example. So within digital innovation, part of that team focuses on omni channel customer experience, making sure we have the right platforms and capabilities to launch new products in a in a digital world, Digital First world.
00;24;32;29 - 00;24;50;24
That's one part of that. And then the other part of that, our team works with our early science teams and our R&D teams trying to figure out how do we fuze digital with the science to make sure we're maximizing outcomes, right? So it's kind of two components of that. That's digital innovation. The second team is data and analytics.
00;24;50;24 - 00;25;23;08
So that's you have one data analytics tech organization across the across the entire company. That's everything from early research through development and through commercialization, through DNA. And they work on all the across company capabilities that we have and advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, gene learning, etc.. Yeah. And then our third one is operations. And so what we've done there is really combining all the capabilities that we deliver for the company from an operations mindset.
00;25;23;08 - 00;25;45;01
And so that's everything from how we run on our value chain and our supply and our clinical trials to our G&A functions, our tech infrastructure, you know, all those, all those kinds of things. And so we have those three teams and our strategy is digital data analytics operations. And so you could see we're matching our capabilities set with our strategy.
00;25;45;03 - 00;26;06;13
The fourth component really underlies all those things, and that's our cybersecurity and trust team. And so, you know, from from my perspective, you know, I'm a I'm a very big believer in in that area. I think, you know, cybersecurity, I know everyone believes it's important to do that. It is critically important. I actually think it's an enabler of of the future.
00;26;06;13 - 00;26;32;02
I think companies that really build a very strong ability and cyber and trust will we'll see beneficial outcomes elsewhere, elsewhere in the companies. So that area reports directly to me as well. That's our fourth our fourth spot. And is that are any one of those areas strictly done on an outsourced basis where you work with a third party provider rather than trying to build up internal capability?
00;26;32;05 - 00;26;54;24
Right. So not surprisingly, the way that we view that is where we need expertise that we believe is or to driving that those folks are in my team. They're employees of the company. Yeah. Where we have more commodity operations and importantly for us as an emerging company where we can get scale faster, those are the areas that we outsource.
00;26;54;24 - 00;27;30;19
And so we have a balance, but we do a heavy amount of utilization of external resources because of volume and scale where we're an emerging company. But we do our emphasis on our internal talent is very much where we feel that we need the internal expertise. So yeah, well it's interesting when you're talking about the three main areas of the innovation, the digital initiatives and then the operational, that's sounded to me almost like the classic plan build, run that that so many i.t leaders have done for so long.
00;27;30;19 - 00;27;55;29
Is this the modern version of that or am I missing a really big when I say that it's I guess you could say it's an evolution of it in a in a sense, I think I think the classic, the classic version of it that would tell you in your run you would have all of your operational services in there or even all of your support services and stuff.
00;27;55;29 - 00;28;18;23
That's not the case. So we we have a product aligned operating model. So within digital that handles everything there is to handle about digital in the spaces that they own. Data analytics is the same one. When I'm saying operations here, what I'm referring to is they manage the capabilities for all of the operational components of the company. That's how we think about it from a business perspective.
00;28;18;23 - 00;28;45;03
But I guess you could say it's a it's kind of like a modern evolution of what you're describing. Okay. And feel free to declare baloney. You know, if I say, I like the idea. I like the idea, you can say, well, no, because I've heard a lot of CEOs recently have talked to me about the people process technology formula, which, you know, it's it's kind of nice that all the classics don't get thrown over right as we get into a new age.
00;28;45;05 - 00;29;07;08
All that all that's old will be new again. Right. And I know we're right. The people trust the technology part is is still important that that in my in my opinion anyway I feel like it's it's still an important part of the model because you know something like I said I coached teams all the time on is it's not just about getting the tech right you know that that's that's that's a good bar.
00;29;07;08 - 00;29;23;00
That's an okay bar. But if, if the tech's right and people don't know how to use it, if the tech's right and it's not impacting a strategic area of what we're trying to do as a company, if the tech's right and it's not driving outcomes for the people that we serve out there on the external world, well, that's great that the text, right?
00;29;23;00 - 00;29;43;24
But it's not achieving what what we intended to achieve from a strategy perspective. And so I think that's if frameworks like people process technology or other frameworks help teams to get into that outcomes driven strategic mindset, then they're fine, then they're fine. If they're helpful, they're not, you know, I just think it's about getting to that mindset that's important.
00;29;43;26 - 00;29;59;14
Well, it's interesting because I think ten or 15 years ago, a lot of CIOs would have told you that people process technology and it's important in that area. But I think it was more the reverse. It was more that we talked about technology and then there was a lot of business process and then like, yeah, and you need great talent.
00;29;59;20 - 00;30;21;13
I feel like in the last five years, especially, and especially as a result with the pandemic and all the uproar around that is the people aspects is that there's been just a whole mind shift, not just for CIOs, I think for businesses as well, but it really feels like it's reflected now in well, in in our next topic on the list, too, you're talking about your digital talent strategy.
00;30;21;15 - 00;30;47;15
That's the thing. You have to have that. And I know you have a very direct plan where you go attacking that, you know, the team health, the development planning foundations, all that sort of stuff. Talk us through that. This is something you're really talking about language now. This just absolutely, completely excited about. You know, I think one of my observations to your point is that people process psychology.
00;30;47;17 - 00;31;15;29
It's the people, right? The talent you have, the people around you, the culture that you develop, you know, those are the things that are going to drive success. You know, that that's that's absolutely core. And so, you know, is part of our transformation and part of what we've been thinking about. You know, we've really been, you know, probably a pretty big component of my leadership energy has has been in our digital talent strategy.
00;31;15;29 - 00;31;38;14
And that starts with step one, which is the foundations, right? Like, are we are we hiring the right people in the first place? Are we retaining them? Do they have a development plan? Do they understand their career path? Do we have the right career paths, like all the kind of basics, but put it in a kind of digital lens on it?
00;31;38;16 - 00;32;06;18
Right. And that's that was sort of step one and kind of building out that component that the second phase of it or second category, which is really our digital workforce plan. And what we mean by that is we've picked very specific domains within our our skill set to say where do we need to develop new talent, develop new new leadership, and how are we going to do that?
00;32;06;18 - 00;32;34;04
So I'll give you example that with a cybersecurity space, it was one of the first digital workforce plans that we put in place in the company. And what happens there is we identify folks within our own organization. They are excited about cyber, but they might work in a completely different space. So we recently had an employee on The Help Desk who was excited and curious about cyber and she was admitted to our cyber workforce plan.
00;32;34;10 - 00;32;58;09
She got a certain level of training in cybersecurity, a certain level of certification. She also had the opportunity to work on a collaborative project that she led with our cybersecurity team at Sage, and she got practical experience. Then she was able to originally go back to her help desk work, but but also take on tasks and assignments in the future and cyber.
00;32;58;09 - 00;33;19;02
Well, now that that's led to that person actually becoming part of our cybersecurity team. So you can see how all of that helps resilience, all of that helps with our workforce motivation and it helps the person on their personal kind of career growth and trajectory. So there's a couple other domains like that where we're going to have a digital workforce plan.
00;33;19;04 - 00;33;49;21
And then the third part is our digital leadership development area, and that's pretty much two components. One is selecting people for my team that we put on a very specific kind of mentorship experiences to develop their digital and leadership acumen from a succession point of view, that kind of stuff. And then the the second one, which will be doing more work on next year, is how do we help develop digital leadership across the company.
00;33;49;21 - 00;34;13;18
And so taking people from from the supply chain operations or from clinical development or other places that have had not much experience in digital but are curious about it and excited about it, and how do we have them have a similar approach of developing their kind of digital leadership acumen? Yeah, what does that do? That helps drive a digital culture across the company.
00;34;13;18 - 00;34;42;06
So that's work that we haven't done so much. Do you figure that out yourselves internally or do you bring in external providers like for, you know, a curriculum of some sort? You know, I you know, I think that depends on the, the company that, that you're in. You know, to be honest, I think there's a lot of space for external people that can bring new fresh ideas to you and help you out.
00;34;42;08 - 00;35;03;21
I think there's also a space for you've got a lot of smart people on your team that have a lot of experience and they've they've done it for long enough to know what you shouldn't do, right? yeah, right. And we've had a mix of both, I would say, in our digital workforce, our our digital talent strategy itself.
00;35;03;23 - 00;35;23;26
It's it's been formed by a lot of great ideas from my team, honestly, you know, and okay, well, a little bit of outside input but it's a lot of it has come from the leaders of my team talking about what they think would work and trying it out and and getting people to experience it. And I'd say the reception we've had to it has been it's been phenomenal.
00;35;23;26 - 00;35;55;05
It really has. Yeah. Feedback that we're getting has been great so well and that was the wonderful example about the Help Desk employee who ends up in cybersecurity. Give us another example. Where else is that worked? Yeah, we have a digital workforce plan in infrastructure that we're working on at the moment. And so that that particular example is taking folks that have not too much experience from an infrastructural perspective and giving them exposure to things like cloud services and cloud platforms.
00;35;55;08 - 00;36;31;02
Yeah, that's the one I'm very excited about that we haven't done yet. That's a piece for next year is we want to take the same approach in data analytics. And so bringing people kind of out of their comfort zone and mentoring them in data science and data platforms. Yeah, I've had the benefit of that in my career and I know that when I when I see a business question or a business problem that someone out there is asking, like I can bring the data lens to it in my mind and understand the complexity of just that problem, what it would take to answer, whether it's worth answering in the first place or not.
00;36;31;02 - 00;36;55;18
And so how the question should be structured. Right, right, right. And or can you get 80% the answer for 20 or 10% of the cost, you know, and that we're going to focus a little bit more on that next year. But that's that's that's up for the roadmap. That's organic. Okay. Well, I feel like there's probably on your roadmap going forward a lot to do with AI, maybe generative.
00;36;55;21 - 00;37;26;27
I'd tell us about what you're looking at, what you're considering or actually doing in that space where data analytics is more on the AI end of that spectrum. Yeah. So I think the applications and this just comes from my kind of larger scale experience throughout my career where we're getting my opinion anyway. We're getting to the point where appropriate utilization of AI and machine learning can help unlock new value for data driven companies that are very experimental.
00;37;26;29 - 00;37;54;05
Well, that's what's a better example of that than the biotech industry, right? Where yeah, everything everything we do is fundamentally data driven. Everything we do is attempting to solve a scientific challenge or a scientific scientific problem. But what I would say is you have to be very choice for about where you apply those techniques. So I think it's it's very easy to say, well, we've got a bunch of data, we're going to run it.
00;37;54;06 - 00;38;15;07
I, you know, it's going to be great. That's going to be so great when it gets here. Right. And follow that path, you know, through the environment and just wind up where you where you got to at the end of it. Sometimes. So I get that it's applying the strategic perspective of saying, hey, this is a core data problem we're trying to solve.
00;38;15;10 - 00;38;33;00
Let's take a look at will. A models, will machine learning be applicable to that? And, you know, it doesn't have to always be expensive. I was just talking to a team a couple of weeks ago where they had an amazing idea that I could unlock a lot of value. And then we turned around in it and we looked around the environment and it turned out we actually already had the data.
00;38;33;02 - 00;39;04;27
So yeah, right. So it's nice. Doesn't have to be a big complex effort. I think you just got to know where to look. Yeah. Interesting. How do you make sure that the people on your team or even the outside contractors you're working with are as tied in to the business and the commercial side of things that you used to be A conversation we had a lot over the years when I was at CIO magazine and with CIO Outcome, where we talk a lot about the business savvy that I.T people have.
00;39;05;00 - 00;39;28;21
I feel like these days we talk more about the additional digital savvy that the rest of the business needs to have and what the i what the deck role in that is. You talk about that part of it. How do you make sure that the business sensibilities the commercial way of thinking about I.T is as deeply embedded in your team as it is with you as the CTO?
00;39;28;27 - 00;40;09;14
Yeah, I think it's, it's probably two things, both by more than two things, but two things come to mind. So that's fine. The, the first one is the mean essentially the people that you hire in the first place, Right? So, sure, what we sought to do when we were building out our kind of digital team, our digital innovation team brought people on the team that had experience driving digitization from a business point of view, they actually had roles like that or even working in commercial groups in the past or worked in marketing teams in the past.
00;40;09;14 - 00;40;27;00
And then we're very curious about digital and got involved in the digital side of it. It might have been even in an I.T. organization at some point, but that day that they weren't thinking about it from looking from the i.t up, they were thinking about it looking from the business at how we could unlock it with digital data and technology approaches, you know, so.
00;40;27;02 - 00;40;50;29
So again, it's it's just something I've learned across my career too. Making the right kind of talent choices really is the thing that's that is it's critical to driving transformation and culture with with your group. So I'd say we're very joyful about the the type of roles that we thought about and and who could really drive things from a business perspective.
00;40;50;29 - 00;41;22;21
And then to couple that the second part was, you know, we've, we've located all of those digital capabilities within, within our team, within tech there isn't there? There isn't another digital team, there's not another data engineering team. There's not it's you're not competing with the team that's part of the engineering group, correct? Exactly. And by building that collaboratively with the company the right way, it doesn't become a competition and it shouldn't become a competition.
00;41;22;21 - 00;41;46;14
It's not viewed as that. It's viewed as enabling. Right. So the I've just you know, I sit in on discussions with our commercial teams and our digital teams, and it's just the level of collaboration, the culture, the ways of work. I just I'm just always impressed by it, by the because what do they want to do? They want to focus on how can we get this right, How can we get this outcome right?
00;41;46;14 - 00;42;09;08
And it's not it's not about who's doing what you know anymore. And I never hear anyone talk these days about, you know, deeply religious choices, about what technology we're using. I mean, I feel like everyone has become ambidextrous on all that. Yeah. And you have to be and you have to be right. And I think, you know, the the world evolves, right.
00;42;09;08 - 00;42;31;00
And technology and what's helping us today, you know, tomorrow we'll make a different choice. And the day after that, I mean, maybe the day after that. But but after that, people will make a different choice. And again, that's that's that's why you could probably tell my focus is from a strategy perspective, like what destination we're trying to go to and why are we trying to get there that first day?
00;42;31;07 - 00;42;52;10
It's this vehicle, another day it's another vehicle. But the not as much. It's the destination, you know? Right, Right. It's like five years ago we were I was talking with CIOs so much about their cloud services strategies, and now it's so much so built in as a part of strategic approaches to business that we don't spend much time on it, you know, ever Related.
00;42;52;10 - 00;43;12;06
Another excellent question from the audience, and it's right in line with what we're talking about. Matt, could you expand a bit on the business engagement aspects as part of the journey? And I think we've touched on that a good bit already, but this is your chance to expand on that even more. Yeah, I'd say it, it's going to start.
00;43;12;07 - 00;43;35;10
Maybe I, but I don't we don't think about it as a business engagement if I'm understanding the question. Okay. So we don't think about it as there's the business and there's us or like that. It's not we know very individually, very intentionally. We don't we try not to think about it that way because we see ourselves as the business.
00;43;35;10 - 00;44;00;04
We are the business, we're part of the business. We're infused in the business. And and the capabilities and outcomes we're trying to drive are part of our our business, right? Like we're not a separate but we're not a separate thing that's a part from it. And so to me, it hasn't been as much about formal engagement models or business partnering models or those things or business relationship managers.
00;44;00;04 - 00;44;22;04
Right? Right. It's not really been about that. What it's been about is having the right people and coaching them and mentoring so that they so that essentially they show up as business leaders, you know what I mean? And not as providers or whatever other words. So that in our internal vendors with customers that are in those other departments, it's a whole different way to think about it.
00;44;22;08 - 00;44;38;04
You think about it very, very differently. Yeah. Do we get it right every day? I know, you know, but that's that's how we are very intentionally trying to think about it. Yeah. Okay. All right, great. Now I know we've taken you away from an all hands meeting, and I promise to get you out of here a little bit early.
00;44;38;11 - 00;45;27;12
I just. The last question I wanted to ask you, going from the leadership, a linear ship position in a giant pharmaceutical to what you're doing now, what has that taught you? What have you learned about your own leadership style in these last three years? Yeah, you know, hopefully it doesn't sound too, too clichéd, but I do I do feel this and I if you have the opportunity in your career, you know, make sure that if you can, that you take opportunities that fit, that you're passionate, you know, and because, you know, the world is a complex place and it's it's not easy every single day, but it's that much harder if you're not as as
00;45;27;13 - 00;45;47;22
vested in the journey. You know what I mean? So it's, you know, draw if you can. Right. And you find the opportunities, really try to drive with your passion. I'd say the second piece is get involved, the teams that you're going to stretch and that are going to stretch you, right, Because learning, you know, learning both ways important.
00;45;47;22 - 00;46;08;22
And, you know, I think the last one maybe is, you know, take the work seriously. But, you know, maybe don't take yourself so seriously all the time. All right. Good for you. Good to be back. Like, you know that that's in a nutshell. I think my Mike, you take my advice right now. All right, good. Well, those are good takeaways indeed.
00;46;08;22 - 00;46;28;01
Thank you so much for joining us today. And I wish you we wish you all the best with the rest of your all hands meeting. I assume there are off somewhere watching you live right now in an auditorium at least. I hope they believe. I believe they are. And I'm going to be tuning in and fried up on behalf of myself and say just thank you so much for the opportunity.
00;46;28;01 - 00;46;51;29
Was it was awesome speaking with you today. And just just thanks again. Well, you too. And you're very welcome indeed. And if you joined us late today, don't worry. You can watch this full episode of my interview here on LinkedIn later in the day, but also on and on our YouTube channel. CEO Leadership Live is also available as an audio podcast wherever you find your podcast.
00;46;52;02 - 00;47;14;25
And I hope that you enjoyed and learned from today's conversation. And with Matt Lisman as the Chief Technology and Innovation officer at Sage Therapeutics as much as I did. We'll be back again in two weeks and this time I'll be talking on Wednesday, October 25th at noon Eastern with Sheila Anderson, who is the CIO of AFLAC, the supplemental insurance provider.
00;47;14;27 - 00;47;40;26
Thanks so much for tuning in and joining us today. Thanks to our audience members who sent in questions. They were both excellent and do take a moment to subscribe to our CIO channel on YouTube, where you can find all 100 plus previous episodes of CIO leadership live. Take care out there. Thanks, and we'll see you again next, Find.