The New Paradigm of Work — An Interview with Robert Christiansen

Robert Christiansen — VP and Cloud Strategist, Cloud Technology Partners / HPE

In this episode of the Masters of Data podcast, I speak with Robert Christiansen about some very timely issues that have been developing in the world of technology. Robert and I discuss a tectonic shift going on in the technology industry and how leaders will be successful in this new world in light of these changes. Robert is a VP and Cloud Strategist at Cloud Technology Partners, which is part of HPE — Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Robert has had a long and interesting career including starting his own companies and building world-class organizations. As becomes apparent in the conversation, Robert is passionate about people and helping them succeed. His love and care for people aside, Robert is also known as a cloud technology leader, motivator, speaker, and innovator in addition to a contributing writer for CIO magazine, the Editor in Chief for The Doppler (the leader in cloud thought leadership) and the host of the popular Motive For Life Podcast.

To kick things off Robert gives a little context surrounding his background and his pathway to into the technology space. As he shares, he took his first basic programming class at the age of 16 at the prompting of his dad which enabled him to acquire the skills needed to complete his first project…building an invitation to a party at his house. When 300 kids showed up, he tasted success and fell in love with the concept of programming. The next step was to Chico State for a degree in programming from what was then a top-ranked, world-class educational leader in computer and technology. From there he stepped into some opportunities at startups which has enabled him to start several companies of his own and acquire a knack for leadership and development which he still uses in his current role at Cloud Technology Partners. In his time at CTP he has helped establish the public cloud practice and as Robert shares, CTP was acquired by HP last year allowing his role to develop into helping through the transition while he builds a professional coaching practice to help people in the technology space try to navigate their way through the industry amidst all of the changes and adaptations that are taking place.

One main focus of the conversation is around the new paradigm shift of work in the technology space that is emerging and the advocacy Robert is taking on for professionals in the technology space with these paradigm shifts. So what exactly is this shift and why is it so disruptive? Well as Robert notes, historically, “So [many] of the day to day IT motions, the infrastructure that’s in place, the procurement processes, the compliance governance and risk, all these things that go into the behaviors of the fundamentals of processing data globally [have been] pretty set. [But] this tectonic shift that we’ve been experiencing has dramatically changed it such that the decision making processes…[is now] being made by data. [People] thought that the landing zone for the next 10 years for them to retirement was well in place and that’s not the case anymore.” So the larger question around the paradigm shift is simply this, how does the data influencing the day to day changes impact not just technology jobs, but a broader economy? Well as Robert and I discuss, the answer is becoming clear. “We are at the precipice of the outsourcing of jobs to automation, and it is not mechanical automation. We’re seeing the replacement of key fundamental roles and jobs…that were happening internally with more automated processes that the public cloud and other places are going to be bringing to the table. So as a result of that, people are really scared.” But even with this adaptation and change, Robert is leading the way in helping people identify common challenges as well as overcome these obstacles.

“We are at the precipice of the outsourcing of jobs to automation. We’re seeing the replacement of key fundamental roles and jobs…that were happening internally with more automated processes that the public cloud and other places are going to be bringing to the table. So as a result of that, people are really scared.”

One way that Robert is helping to address the issues at hand is by helping professionals in the technology space understand that these are increasingly common challenges of entire industries, not just individual or role-specific. As Robert sees, “At the end of the day, technology is in place to consume itself. It will always consume itself. And I just think that at times we’re not being very honest with ourselves when it comes to what’s next and how we adjust to what’s next. So as a result, I’m just really interested to see how this is going to shake out.” So by being honest about the shifts and changes that are being put in place, Robert can begin helping people in the technology space overcome the limitations that have inevitably been imposed on them because of specializations they have dedicated themselves to for years and help them overcome the obstacles in a field that is becoming automated. What’s a solution? You’ve got to learn new skill sets, but there also has to be a transition where we can take the experience and the intuition that people build over years to allow them to process more data and be able to take advantage of that as well.

Source — https://www.teachermagazine.com.au

The reality is that there is an emerging need for leaders to be able to communicate the changes that are and will continue to take place in a way that is palatable for people in an organization as well as the world at large. Part of the problem will continue to be how to have clear and open communication about these changes in an effective way. As Robert suggests, “You can’t solve problems unless you give a damn”, which is the encouragement he provides to the people he coaches. Being aware of the changes and having the ability to communicate well with passion is crucial to overcoming the issues at hand. Robert’s passion and goal as he operates in a coaching capacity is to help people, “Put the wellbeing of the individual first, because if you [take] care of the individuals, the community will thrive. Instead of putting the community first and the individuals second.” If this is the driving force then even amidst a new paradigm unfolding, positive things can happen.

Outbound Links & Resources Mentioned

Learn more about Robert:

https://www.cloudtp.com/people/robert-christiansen/

Follow Robert on Twitter @rbchristiansen

Connect with Robert on LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-christiansen-870239/

Learn more about Robert’s Motive For Life podcast:

https://motiveforlife.com/

Learn more about Cloud Technology Partners:

https://www.cloudtp.com/

Follow Cloud Tech Partners on Twitter @cloudtp

Check out the book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz:

https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Thing-About-Things-Building/dp/0062273205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548307546&sr=1-1&keywords=the+hard+things+about+hard+things+-+ben+horowitz

Takeaways

  • Cloud Technology Partners has built a global practice and become world-renowned as the number one security company and professional services company for security and global implementations on the public cloud.
  • When everybody has access to similar technology, a company has to ask “what’s the differentiation”?
  • Since anyone can hire educated people and become competitive in the technology space the difference in the competitive world is building skills and people touching a lot of different areas in their careers to be able to learn a lot of different skill sets.
  • So much of the day to day of IT motions, the infrastructure that’s in place, the procurement processes, the compliance governance and risk, all these things that go into the behaviors of the fundamentals of processing data globally are a pretty set.
  • The tectonic shift that we’ve been experiencing which has dramatically changed the decision-making processes is that many of those decisions are being made by data.
  • We are at the precipice of the outsourcing of jobs to automation, and it is not mechanical automation. We’re seeing the replacement of key fundamental roles and jobs and stuff like that that were happening internally with more automated processes that the public cloud and other places are going to be bringing to the table.
  • People in the technology space thought that the landing zone for the next 10 years for them to retirement was well in place and that’s not the case anymore.
  • Organizations need to put the wellbeing of the individual first and understand that if you take care of the individuals, the community will thrive. Instead of putting the community first and the individuals second.
  • Primates can hold together social context without hierarchy, without role definitions, etc. up to about 150 or so, known as Dunbar Number. After you hit 150, the infrastructure falls apart.
  • This is a reflection of human nature that these are some of these limitations that we have built into us.
  • A lot of people in technology like predictability. They like that stability. They want routine in place.
  • At the end of the day, technology is in place to consume itself. It will always consume itself. At times we’re not being very honest with ourselves when it comes to what’s next and how do we adjust to what’s next.
  • It partly seems like people have got to learn new skill sets, but there also has to be a transition where we can take the experience and the intuition that people build over years to allow them to process more data and be able to take advantage of that as well.
  • You can’t solve problems unless you give a damn. It’s about caring. And there’s something very human about that.