Matt WebbMatt Webb of Mirati Therapeutics shares how he supports innovation within his organization to deliver better solutions.

You’ve seen our excerpts of interviews Sean Ferrel and his Managed Solution team have conducted with Todd Stewart, VP of global infrastructure and IT operations for Western Digital; Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, one commercial partner with Microsoft; Jeremy Giacosa, IT director with Accriva Diagnostics; and Ken Lawonn, senior vice president and chief information officer with Sharp HealthCare. We’re happy to share this interview Sean conducted with Matt Webb, IT director with Mirati Therapeutics.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

What’s your main focus for technology today and for the future?

My niche is IT leadership of a small company, so you can’t focus on one main thing. That might be nice, but my main focal point is enabling the business. The big picture of using technology is to maintain, grow and innovate the business—finding the right solutions and implementing them, as well as finding the right people and training them. Staying up to date on security and keeping intellectual property and patient data protected—it takes all forms to ensure you are keeping the core assets of the businesses data protected.

It’s impossible to predict what technology will be like in the future. Focusing on the day-to-day will help you stay up-to-date on what’s on the horizon and understand what challenges employees are having. By understanding daily business challenges, you don’t have to reinvent the solution when something new might be coming out. You could prepare for future technologies by being present and understanding the business day-to-day.

What are you doing to support innovation in the organization to deliver better solutions?

Keeping one eye in the present and one eye in the future. By listening to all the business units, IT and non-IT related, and absorbing as much information as you can, you are really understanding the business and challenges. Look at all the tools available to us to manage and control your environment.

Are there any hiring challenges? Or how to you approach hiring/what do you look for?

Our industry talent pool is a mix of the people who grew up WITH the digital age, IN the digital age, and everything in between. The result is there are some with more experience with yesterday’s computing, some better at today’s, and some who are always looking for tomorrow’s. For me, it’s about finding the combo of those skills that works for me but more importantly, looking at problem-solving skills and root-cause analysis, hiring the folks that need to figure it out. Many of my candidate interview questions focus on real experience that has required curiosity and critical thinking. These core behaviors are something that you can’t always train someone to develop.

What kind of messaging is coming down from the CEO/key executives about their partnership with IT? What are they expecting you to look at?

Working in the SMB space there won’t often be a spot at the table for a CIO or CTO so you’ll likely report in through operations or finance. As a result, the messaging from the executives could be very different. A CFO might be more concerned with prudent decisions, managing the budget well, and ensuring compliance with various regulatory requirements. A COO, however, might be more concerned with productivity, “moving the needle”, delivering value internally or externally. Ultimately, they all want IT to help enable the business, so they expect you to look at everything really. Pay close attention to the business, reach out to the other leaders and ask what’s coming up so you can be prepared with a solution. There is a certain amount of trust that you need to build so executives know you are making the right business decisions.

What are your top three concerns?

  • Security
  • Mobility
  • Cloud

(Editor’s note: To read the full interview with Webb, click here.)

-- Sean Ferrel, Managed Solution