This blog series features senior corporate executive from the 100 CIO/CTO Leaders in STEM publication sharing their insights on business and innovation from a technology and information perspective. Today’s Leader is Angela Yochem, Global Chief Information Officer of BDP International.
Global Chief Information Officer
Angela Yochem is the Global CIO of BDP International, a leading privately-held global transportation and logistics management firm, where she runs the technology division and the digital product line. Angela joined the high-growth company in 2013 to drive expansion through innovative technology.
Prior to BDP, Angela was the global CTO at AstraZeneca, where she built unconventional partnerships to accelerate business advantage while making a meaningful difference to patient health. She built a track record of driving transformation, profitability and agility in complex environments in senior roles at Dell, Bank of America, SunTrust, UPS, and IBM.
Throughout her career, Angela has developed ground-breaking mobility solutions, highly profitable social media constructs, advanced analytics for pattern matching across massive steaming data sets, and world-class digital security teams. Her experience with predictive analytics, natural language search, simulations in healthcare and logistics, and her commitment and early success in delivering secure, cloud-based solutions to end customers have allowed her to drive breakthrough digital differentiation.
Angela is an Independent Director on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, where she co-chairs the Enterprise Risk Committee, and serves on the Operational Risk Committee and the Governance and Public Policy Committee, and is the vice-chair of the Enterprise Risk Committee.
Angela has a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Tennessee, where she serves on the board of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, and a Bachelor of Music from DePauw University. She is a published author focusing on complex technologies used in large-scale IT practices, and holds US patents relating to dynamic authorization and identity within mobile and traditional web-based applications.
About BDP International
BDP International is one of the leading privately held freight logistics/transportation management firms based in the U.S. It operates freight logistics centers in more than 20 cities throughout North America and a network of subsidiaries, joint ventures and strategic partnerships in nearly 140 countries. The company serves more than 4,000 customers worldwide. Clients include Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Heineken USA, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, Revlon, Trek Bicycle, and others. BDP provides a range of services, including ocean, air and ground transportation; lead logistics process analysis, design and management; export freight forwarding; import customs clearance and regulatory compliance; project logistics; warehousing/consolidation/distribution; custom technology applications on-demand and its web-based BDPSmart® Suite of shipping transaction/tracking management and visibility applications. For more information visit: www.bdpinternational.com.
The role of CIOs
The STEM of today is an exciting and messy place to be. Advances in science are not limited to the fantastic medical applications dominating conversation in the press; scientific advances are changing the way we build things, analyze problems and compute answers, and even understand our universe. Advances in technology bring these scientific and mathematical progressions to applications that impact all elements of our society - and while these emerging technologies and lines of thought offer exciting possibilities, many have complicated implications.
Through our funding and engagement, CIOs are able to directly influence what the STEM of tomorrow looks like, to have a key role in building and supporting a STEM environment that benefits us all. As essential part of this finding and encouraging leaders for today and tomorrow who can think critically and creatively. For ease of discussion, let’s think about this in terms of four categories: seeding the pipeline, creating a community, inspiring reinvention, and diversity of thought.
First, let’s talk about seeding the pipeline. CIOs can sponsor, champion, or even create educational initiatives for children and teens that appeal to them as creators and as problem-solvers. The most successful STEM initiatives for children--LEGO Mindstorms, First Robotics, and Blockly, to name a few--use code as a tool to make something visible, real world and actionable. Sponsoring hackathons, speaking in schools, and running science and/or technology competitions are relatively easy things for a CIO to support interest and engagement in STEM for youth and adults alike.
Second, CIOs should build a broad community of STEM researchers and contributors. For example, CIOs can support university programs that are doing research of interest to our businesses. This research may be on a technical level--how smart machines can be used effectively to enhance human lives, for example--or on a philosophical one--how technology is changing not only the world but STEM itself with extensions for Arts/Humanities and Society.
The innovative Science, Technology and Society programs at MIT and Stanford are two examples of programs that are stretching the boundaries of traditional thinking about technology education in exciting ways, and many other engineering schools and arts/sciences programs are engaging with industry creatively. For example, my graduate school, the EECS department at the University of Tennessee, has very exciting research in collaboration with the national labs and other entities. CIOs can be resources and vocal supporters for these programs, while gaining access to work not commercially available anywhere else.
Bringing game-changing capabilities to our businesses and society requires a broad community beyond STEM research at universities. CIOs should also engage the start-up community. Finding investment groups who showcase emerging companies and attending the DEMO conferences twice-yearly are easy ways to jump-start this type of engagement. And let’s not forget that many large technology vendors have very sophisticated research divisions. In some cases, CIOs may find that partnering with these groups working on technologies not yet to market can be intellectually stimulating for our staff, and competitively advantageous for our companies.
Through building partnerships with universities, start-ups and research groups, CIOs can build a community of STEM leadership that will not only serve their companies well, but also provide a diversity of thought and perspective benefitting all areas of STEM innovation.
Third, to inspire reinvention, CIOs need to encourage creative thinking within their own enterprises. CIOs can shape the way teams are formed and the business community is engaged to ensure that digital ambitions are articulated, understood, and met, and will continue to evolve.
Emerging areas of technology such as the Internet of Things offer great examples of the range of concerns we want our current and future STEM leaders thinking about: design (how to make successful connected items that blend seamlessly into our environments and experiences), privacy (how to maintain privacy and manage rights without annoying users with disclaimers on every access point), and resilience/repair (how to run software outside of our control and manage challenges when things go wrong). It’s important to help our staff and business partners shift the way they think about projects in this way, with a strong focus on user experience and the foundational integrity to support extreme fluidity and scale.
This will be a challenge for many business and IT leaders (and their teams) as they pursue digital transformation and industry disruption. But who better to prepare teams for engagement in an unbounded operating theater than the CIO?
Lastly, do our teams have the necessary diversity of thought and experience? How do our technical products meet the needs of users who don’t live like us? Are we artificially constraining our teams focusing on STEM by making assumptions about the type of person we should put on these teams?