Straight-talking relating to getting her messages throughout to the broader firm, Vizrt CIO Petra Tesch revels in transformation and communication
- Martin Veitch
Published: 14 Sep 2023
Six months into her function at real-time Norwegian graphics and dwell manufacturing service supplier Vizrt, Petra Tesch is having fun with challenges previous and new.
The Stockholm-based chief info officer (CIO) is an exponent of plain talking relating to getting the message throughout.
“There’s a saying in Swedish that goes, ‘Speak with farmers in farmers’ language,’” says Tesch. It illustrates that basic problem for IT leaders the world over: speaking with out boring individuals to demise or leaving them bewildered by three-letter acronyms and jargon. It’s additionally maybe indicative of her strategy to the CIO function, whereby communication and consensus are key.
Tesch is a latest arrival at Vizrt, a number one supplier of visible storytelling instruments for international media shops. If you’ve watched the BBC, CNN, Fox, Sky, NBC, Al Jazeera or many different TV channels, you’ll have seen its work within the tickers, charts, graphics and overlays that accompany rolling information reviews. The firm additionally does a number of behind-the-scenes work through software program and cloud providers that handle the modifying and curating of broadcast gadgets.
Six months into the job, she arrived with a powerful CV, having led IT at a Swedish system integrator and at a prescription drugs firm the place she was promoted after the earlier CIO retired. At the guts of her ethos is the framing of the CIO function as a nexus or crossroads the place enterprise plans may be activated and accelerated via using know-how.
“I’m curious, humble and interested in learning new things,” she says. “I’m a group participant … the CIO function isn’t a one-person present, and it’s all about having good teamwork behind you. [You must understand the] enterprise facet, however it’s additionally seeing buildings and alternatives for enchancment in information and all varieties of course of enhancements.
“It’s crucial to form a strong team that can be the glue that ensures IT strategy, systems and services are fully in line with [plans] … [to] inspire and enable the business strategy and associated objectives. Without the right team in place that can drive those objectives forward, it will be very difficult to achieve any sort of change – especially digital transformation.”
“I’d been thinking about joining a real product company that was software-based,” says Tesch. “When I was contacted by Vizrt, I was intrigued by the opportunity.”
Is she confronted by the acquainted problem of a CIO working in an area with different individuals who have a powerful technical understanding and subsequently their very own opinions as to how IT must be run?
“What I sense is that it’s actually easier, as people know the importance of the correct handling of data,” says Tesch. “It’s a continuing change, and rising applied sciences are making my life simpler, however in the long run it’s additionally about individuals, setting the scene and getting [product people] you’re employed for aligned and on top of things. It’s loads, however there are new alternatives for cloud, machine studying and synthetic intelligence, and the velocity isn’t altering or slowing down.
“I’m humble but I have a need to take on business challenges and to have a positive impact. I’m also quite brave in managing people’s expectations and taking decisions. It’s a very techie company and a very development-driven company. I haven’t been here very long, but we are driven by being at the forefront of this technology.”
Tesch sees her function as a hybrid of offering the info and evaluation to make Vizrt actually data-driven with managing on a regular basis IT operations. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, her function is international, and Vizrt has a bodily presence in 27 international locations. As for many people, the Covid pandemic necessitated an adjustment in favour of distant working, however she now enjoys being again within the workplace.
“I like the possibility to be in the office again” says Tesch. “It’s easier when you sit in the same office to reach out and interact.”
She reviews to the corporate chief monetary officer (CFO), and says constructing relationships with all stakeholders is vital. “It’s extra about [developing an understanding of] the individuals, their help and the funds you get. Storytelling and creating a superb story to again up your plans is extraordinarily necessary to get traction and help.
“It is so necessary to have respect, shared goals, commitment, ambition, skills and determination, from both the business and IT sides of an organisation, alongside a willingness to sit at the same table to drive things forward in order to succeed.”
The rise of public-facing applied sciences comparable to generative synthetic intelligence (AI) is “undeniably” an help in selling the IT enterprise case, Tesch provides. And, in contrast to many CIOs, she has no ambition to swap sides and turn out to be a CEO or different chief.
“I think I’m a devoted IT person and will continue to work in IT,” she says. “The CIO role is a lot of fun to me. I can dive into any area of it and I want to continue to learn. I’m curious about further developments and I’m not striving to become a CEO.”
Tesch can be not bothered about sitting on the board, saying that “the governance model and the people involved are more important than the actual position in my experience”.
She says cloud has had a significant impression in making areas comparable to outdoors broadcast much less hardware-intensive, and anticipates one other massive wave of change. “I see potential in evolving AI and machine learning in products, but also in being better at the customer-facing side of what we do,” says Tesch.
She relaxes by benefiting from Sweden’s outside and doesn’t look like the sort to get slowed down by the psychodramas that may accompany any senior function.
“I’m not very easily stressed,” says Tesch. “I have dogs, and enjoy being outside with friends, family, horses, as well as downhill skiing. This may be controversial, but I find stress [to be] something positive. [It] helps me focus and produce better outcomes. If it becomes obviously too much to handle, I try to deal with it in a transparent way with my team, so we are all aware of the elephant in the room and [we can] agree with how we deal with it. I want and expect my teams to do the same with me. Honesty helps us all do our best and communicate when we need time or a step back to ensure we recover so we can do our best.”
The energy of mentoring
Tesch is an enormous believer within the energy of mentoring, and counts herself fortunate to have been guided by robust people.
“I have met many fantastic people that have influenced me positively, including many professionals within the industry,” she says. “A couple of them that have been instrumental in how my journey has been shaped are Lars Wijkman, a management consultant that mentored me and opened me up to a world of inspiring opportunities, and Mats-Olof Wallin, who was an insightful manager and impressive CFO to work under. Without these two people in my life, my career would be drastically different than it is now – mentorship and management are two integral pillars in any strong career trajectory.”
In hiring, Tesch seeks out a mix of complementary qualities. “I look for high-performing talents that bring something we need to the team,” she says. “It could be anything from specific expertise to generalists, with the aim [being] to create an inspiring workplace where people thrive and feel like they can make a difference. We should never underestimate the ability of positive and optimistic personalities in a team, and how they can influence the culture and productivity of the team and the workplace.”
Tesch presently has lots on her agenda as Vizrt makes a transition to a brand new income mannequin. “A big focus for us right now is transforming our business model from perpetual to subscription-based with more SaaS [software-as-a-service] offerings,” she says. “This is no simple undertaking … we must tailor our business systems on all fronts to support that fully, and [we] need to look at our own tech stack and upgrade it in areas to be more agile, efficient and modernised.”
Tesch’s no-nonsense strategy is refreshing, however, when requested that previous chestnut about what retains her awake at evening, she admits that one space presents a continuing problem.
“Right now, I think one thing on many CIOs’ minds is security threats,” she stated. “We can provide all of the coaching on this planet, and usher in many modes of safety, however finally, hackers are getting smarter and extra artful, so continuous training and innovation are key to vigilance.
“But exciting things also keep me up, like planning and executing major projects or new strategies.”
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