By Kimberley Donoghue PBN Web Editor Twitter: @ kdonog
Bryant University named Chuck LoCurto as its new chief information officer in January, replacing Art Gloster.
LoCurto, who held a similar position at Textron Financial Corp., took a minute to talk about the transition.
PBN: You have more than 20 years of experience at Textron. What difficulties/advantages do you foresee that experience bringing to your new position?
LOCURTO: No difficulties at all. However, the advantages are endless! While the products, services, and customers are completely different between the two organizations, many things are still the same.
From a pure technology and infrastructure perspective, many things are similar (networks, servers, desktops, helpdesk, production systems, etc.). Compliance and IT governance are also similar and very transferable (COBIT, ITIL, ISO, PMO, etc.).
From a nontechnical perspective it’s always important to be a dedicated professional willing to help in any way possible. As senior leaders, we’re expected to think outside of our domain. It’s important to understand the problems and opportunities an organization faces, and to figure out how to align technology solutions in a cost-effective manner ensuring value creation. All of these activities feel very natural. Doing all of this with a smile is important no matter where you work.
PBN: What two major projects did you undertake at Textron that you’d like to brag about?
LOCURTO: After 20 years I can think of hundreds of things to brag about, but I’ll start with people. Building one of the best talent pools across IT at Textron is something I’m very proud of. Nothing gets done without people … talented people. As leaders we don’t always have the best or right answer. Generally, the best solutions come from the team. You just have to be confident enough to let the team participate in creating the solution, and then provide guidance as they navigate their way there.
Given that talent is required to undertake any project, I’ll now brag about a couple of projects.
My last three years at Textron were probably the most “indescribable” of my career. At Textron Financial, we accomplished a first: No finance company has ever successfully liquidated itself out of business. Typically, commercial finance companies go out of business by going bankrupt. Liquidating our assets by nearly $6 billion, reducing our computing footprint by nearly 75 percent, and executing an equal reduction in our human capital is the most trying thing any professional can go through. While this was taking place, we were growing services lines and Centers of Excellence across the greater Textron.
We implemented an innovative model for sourcing global talent that enabled us to deliver industry- leading, innovative iPad applications for other Textron companies such as E-Z-Go, Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter. Quite frankly, the work was remarkable.
PBN: Bryant highlighted, along with your MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, that you earned Textron Six Sigma Black Belt certification – what is that and why is that important to your work at Bryant?
LOCURTO: Six Sigma is an amazing toolkit that any employee can use to identify problems and solve them. It covers everything from being able to write a problem statement, identifying and engaging stakeholders, identifying critical performance metrics, measuring progress, and much more. I literally have hundreds of tools embedded in my Six Sigma “DNA” that give me the confidence to approach any problem, be it technical, process, or a cultural transformation issue. In my short time here at Bryant, I’ve already used many of my Six Sigma skills.
PBN: Have you been able to pinpoint specific areas where you see room for improvement at Bryant?
LOCURTO: Higher education is on the verge of serious transformation. Learning any time anywhere is a must. So is delivery of content of all types to any device.
Fortunately, Bryant is a premier university that has experienced wonderful growth on many fronts under President Ron Machtley’s leadership, and we have a solid base of technology within infrastructure, academic computing and AV/media, administrative systems, and library services.
Enabling faculty to be able to teach differently, and helping students to learn differently is tops on the list. As an example, Bryant has undertaken a pilot program using tablet devices as teaching tools in accounting and chemistry. We’re also looking to enable our Learning Management System to be accessed anywhere/anytime via mobile devices. (Students will be able to submit assignments, professors will be able to post grades and communicate with students when the students need/want it.) This is going to create a very engaging learning environment.
We’re also going find new ways to engage our students on campus with those same mobile devices, and we’re going to do the same for prospective students and other important external stakeholders. As we all know, no matter how good you are, and Bryant University is exceptional, there are always ways to be better. Bryant University is already great, and we’ll be getting better every day!
PBN: What technology trends do you think will be important for universities in the next five to 10 years? We’ve seen how cloud computing can help save money, space and resources. What’s next?
LOCURTO: Universities must become even more multifaceted. We’ll not only have to create a remarkable learning and life experience on the campus, but we’re going to have to extend our capabilities way beyond our borders. Learning environments in the short run will continue to have a mix of typical PCs as well as tablets, and smartphones. (Use of the latter two will continue to grow exponentially.)
We’ll be teaching in multiple languages, and in multiple countries. Things like immersive telepresence will become an important part of distance learning. I continue to see the value of “community” – learning via communities, solving problems via communities, and the ability to seamlessly connect and collaborate anywhere/anytime. Our horizon is filled with exciting prospects, and during all of this we’ll have a unique opportunity to positively influence thousands of students … our future leaders!