In 2024, Informatica attains a significant milestone—securing its position for the 10th consecutive year among Foundry’s Computerworld 2024 Best Places to Work in IT. To commemorate this achievement, we sat down with Informatica’s CIO Graeme Thompson, for an insightful conversation.
Graeme discusses the factors that contribute to this repeated recognition, the value of employee engagement and a thoughtful look at the future of IT professionals amidst the evolving landscape of AI trends.
Q: What distinguishes Informatica's IT organization, contributing to its consistent recognition as an employer of choice?
Graeme: At Informatica, our IT team goes beyond the typical scope of infrastructure and project completion. The team plays an integral role in the organization’s top priorities and strategic initiatives. Whether steering our Cloud strategy, shaping go-to-market approaches or facilitating the transition of our business from on-prem to a cloud-centric model, our team is consistently engaged with an active seat at the table. We're not merely executors, we actively contribute to designing and implementing innovative ideas.
Many IT jobs often feel like digging a hole while people throw dirt in faster than you can dig it out. However, here at Informatica, it's a different story. The IT team is not an afterthought; we're integral from the outset. When the organization charts its course to implement a critical new business strategy, IT is involved right from the start. This involvement allows us to help design ways to get it done, ensuring we proactively address any accumulating technical debt. Our high-level, end-to-end involvement provides us with a unique and comprehensive understanding of the business, actively promoting overall profitability, reliability and scalability—a virtuous cycle that adds significant value to both individuals and the business.
Upon joining our company, people notice this difference, appreciate it and become highly motivated to drive crucial initiatives for the company.
Q: Are there any other factors that you believe contribute to the IT organization’s award-winning success?
Graeme: Absolutely. Another critical factor contributing to our success is our unique talent and diverse team. We foster diversity, not only in gender but in thought, background and experience. Our team includes individuals without traditional IT backgrounds, bringing a diverse range of capabilities and ideas to the table—a feature often lacking in many traditional IT organizations.
In recent years, our gender diversity has seen significant improvement, thanks to the outstanding female-driven leadership within our organization. We've taken deliberate actions, implementing practices such as diverse candidate pools, inclusive interview panels and personal assessments before making any offer. This intentional focus, measurable in numbers, has elevated us above the average. Talent remains a key differentiator for us, with our team embodying unique diversity in every aspect.
I would also like to zoom out and appreciate our entire organization, which plays a crucial role in supporting these efforts. At a time when many companies are reducing their focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Informatica is doing the opposite. We're actively increasing our investment and taking concrete steps to enhance our DE&I initiatives. Our CEO, Amit Walia, captured the essence when he established the IDEB (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Belonging) team and outlined our company's vision: “Inclusion and diversity must be a part of our DNA, so that together we develop the muscle memory to make a difference in the world and for each other.”
Q: You stress the importance of employee engagement, highlighting the significance of employees feeling connected with the organization, department, teammates and work. Can you dive into this concept further, sharing a firsthand example of how it plays out in the IT domain?
Graeme: Certainly. Within the IT realm, where resources are consistently scarce, the crucial focus is on directing our efforts toward the right initiatives. The gravest mistake you can make is flawlessly executing the wrong projects. With a workforce putting in extra hours, including nights and weekends, aligning these hardworking individuals with the company's most crucial priorities is a challenging task. However, when tackled effectively, it results in the team feeling genuinely engaged with their company and work. In a company teeming with good ideas, the filter for project selection cannot be whether it is a good idea or not, they all are. The focus must be on alignment with the company's top priorities, visible on the big board, what shows up on the CEO's initiative lists and in earnings calls and matters to the board.
Meaningful contributions in IT go beyond being a behind-the-scenes team, they involve actively contributing to high-impact initiatives. In a product-oriented company like ours, where we don't directly sell or build the product, our role is to support those who do. This entails close collaboration with R&D, deploying our own product and actively participating in its improvement. We engage with Sales to relay firsthand experiences to customers, adding weight to our product advocacy.
As emphasized at the beginning of this Q&A, what sets Informatica’s IT organization apart is our integral role in the company's most pivotal initiatives, intricately tied to the engagement of our team.
Q: Can you elaborate on how Informatica's Core DATA values shape the collaborative efforts within the organization, particularly within the IT team, and provide an example that highlights the impact of these values in action?
Graeme: Informaticans around the world are bound by an invisible connection, our core DATA values. These values serve as an unwavering compass, guiding the entire organization and shaping the daily operations of the IT team.
Recently, our team collaborated closely with Sales, Sales Operations and the Global Partner team to launch an Informatica-branded portal for our Channel partners. The portal boasts an improved user experience with multi-device support, enhanced navigation, self-service authoring capability and automated content synchronization. This successful outcome is just one of many real-world, day-to-day examples of how our IT organization embodies our commitment to Informatica’s core DATA values, especially the principle of 'Act as one team.'
Richard Ganley, SVP Global Partners, captured the essence of this value when he commended the collaboration, stating, "This was a great cross-functional effort and showcased the very best of Informatica." This example demonstrates how our core DATA values influence collaboration within the IT team and the wider organization. It highlights how diverse departments join forces, following these values, to create innovative solutions and improve the overall business.
Q: You've expressed enthusiasm about the impact of Generative AI (GenAI) on technology jobs, emphasizing its transformative potential and the opportunities it presents for IT professionals. Can you elaborate on why you find GenAI particularly exciting for the IT sector?
Graeme: I anticipate that GenAI will revolutionize our work to a degree as profound as the impact of the internet when it first came onto the scene. This includes the transformation of how IT tasks are handled. We’ll be able to offload tasks that AI will take care of while we sleep. Consider the time we spend on platforms like Workday or Salesforce, aiming to make them more user-friendly. Now, GenAI offers us the potential to offer up a prompt instead simply like, “Create a performance review,” eliminating the need for us to spend extraordinary amounts of time customizing UIs. GenAI's dependence on access to critical applications and data positions IT professionals at the forefront of this transformative wave, presenting an opportunity for them to play a central role in its implementation.
This shift is monumental and Informatica, as a pioneering AI-powered intelligent cloud data management platform company, is also uniquely positioned to actively embrace it.
Q: This raises the question, as common IT tasks are offloaded to AI, won’t this reduce the amount of work for IT professionals, putting their value at risk?
Graeme: There's a common concern that GenAI might render certain jobs obsolete. However, history has taught us that world-altering technological advancements have not only transformed industries but also expanded economic opportunities.
A personal anecdote from my upbringing in Paisley, Scotland, illustrates this point. Paisley, known for the Paisley pattern, was built on the textile industry, and faced anxiety when automated looms were introduced, seemingly threatening jobs. Yet, the outcome was the opposite. The price of textiles dropped, people could afford more, and the market expanded, creating more jobs.
Similarly, GenAI is poised to enhance the world's GDP, creating new jobs in the process. While certain roles may be impacted or simplified, it's essential to view this as an evolution rather than a threat. Just as the advent of the internet did not eliminate network or database administration jobs but transformed them, GenAI will usher in new opportunities and require a shift in skill sets.
GenAI will not take your job. Rather, someone who effectively uses GenAI will. Embracing this change and staying informed and learning how to apply GenAI in our work is crucial for professional growth and the key to staying competitive in the evolving landscape. It's about adopting a power tool over a manual one, while recognizing that tools still require humans to operate them. For IT professionals, this is an empowering shift, as we’re well-positioned to be at the forefront of driving technological evolution and leveraging GenAI for enhanced productivity and innovation.