Technology leadership
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Short answer: Technology vision, unflinching execution, and team’s backing. That’s what BJ Fesq at CIT Group did, and he won the prestigious Computerworld technology leader award this year!

I have known BJ Fesq for more than a year. He has been my customer using my company’s software products. I first made BJ’s acquaintance last year when I was working at Informatica responsible for marketing its Master Data Management (MDM) product. At that time, already a technology leader, BJ was executing on his grand vision of creating a controlled data environment to support regulatory compliance. CIT had acquired OneWest Bank and, as a result, was designated as “too big to fail” and hence subject to strong government scrutiny. MDM was one of the products supporting his “Data Services Layer” project, which he used to create a party master.

Earlier this year, I moved to Denodo as its CMO, and it was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that BJ was also using Denodo’s Data Virtualization Platform as the core component within the same “Data Services Layer” (DSL). It was nice to continue interacting with BJ on the same project. Data virtualization is the more agile data integration approach that presents the data as a virtual, abstract layer, independent of the underlying database systems, structures, and storage. BJ used the Denodo Platform within the DSL to access all the data through a common provisioning point instead of through the legacy point-to-point integration. He minimized data replication and proliferation by eliminating data redundancy.

Retooling a legacy data infrastructure to inject agility and withstand regulatory intensity is a monumental task. BJ has successfully picked the right technologies, assembled the right team, deployed the right processes and has been successful in this venture, as recognized by the technology leader award.

Why the Award?

BJ is a technology visionary and a pragmatic leader. The biggest worry for any technology leader is the business adoption of the technology they deploy. In my 25 years of experience in the software industry, I’ve seen technology leaders who have spent millions buying and implementing software only to bury it in the technology graveyard because of lack of business user adoption. Their career died along with that as well!

To be successful with software deployments, a technology leader should do three things very well:

  • Pick the right technologies.
  • Convince/ assemble the right people.
  • Change the business processes to be more efficient.

In my interactions with BJ, I have been really impressed with his knowledge of the latest technologies and a knack for future trends. This knowledge has helped him to assess and select the right best-of-breed technologies that he knows will not only work when he assembles them together, but also be in vogue five years down the line.

I’ve interacted with his team, and they hold him in high regard. From what they described as his management style, he is the kind of technology leader who leads from the front rather than pushing from behind. He has taken a convincing approach to have his team “buy” into his vision rather than “dictate” what needs to be done.

BJ has won the support of his superiors, peers, and subordinates alike to change the business processes that are laborious, time consuming, and error prone. This has helped the organization to rally around his viewpoint and see it successful in action once complete. The DSL project that he is leading at CIT is a testament to such success.

For these reasons, BJ is now one of the Computerworld’s top 100 technology leaders in the world.

Ravi Shankar