Scott Findlater - CIO - Anord Mardix

Bryan muehlberger

Chief Information Officer

The Beachbody Company

bryan muehlberger – CIO Interview Series

Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself

I’m based in Los Angeles, California. I have been here for the last 9 years. I have had a great career and have been very fortunate to work with many great people that have mentored me along the way. I am a 3x CIO/CTO, spending the last 10+ years in CxO roles. I have been working in the technology industry for almost 25+ years. I have worked for some of the biggest and most well-known brands in their industries, including The Beachbody Company, Red Bull, Evolve24, Express Scripts, Pfizer, and more.

What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?

I have been in the technology sector for almost 25+ years. It feels like just yesterday when I started my first internship in 1993. That was even before the Netscape IPO in August of 1995, which was a pivotal time in Technology.

I spent many years working in individual contributor roles – everything from help desk to building servers to running large projects as a project manager. Then I began managing teams in the later early 2000’s while at Pfizer. My first big role was as the IT Site Head for Pfizer’s R&D headquarters in St. Louis – which is where the blockbuster drug Celebrex® was created.

Then in 2006, I went to Express Scripts, a Pharmacy Benefit Management company that was founded in St. Louis. When I joined in 2006, they were around 14K employees and around $17B in revenues. When I left in 2012, they were over 40K employees, and had revenues close to $100B.

During my time at Express Scripts, I had 3 very different roles. The first was leading a team that acted as the liaison between the business applications teams, and infrastructure. Because of my success in this role, after about 9 months, I was promoted and took over software engineering – running their major websites and customer service portals. This was my first time managing a software development team, and so I had to learn on the job. It was a ton of fun and I worked with some great people that I’m still in contact with today. Given my role leading software engineering, I made new relationships with people in various parts of the organization. This led to my decision to leave IT for 4 years and try my hand at New Product Development and Innovation – in a new team called “Consumer Engagement”, which was eventually rebranded to “Consumerology®”. The team’s objective was to combine a data-centric approach with world-class behavioral science and behavioral economics principles, to create a platform that differentiated Express Scripts from its competitors. We succeeded, and this led to Express Scripts’ success in the market where we eventually overtook the number 1 competitor in the space – Merck/Medco – who we eventually acquired / merged with in April 2012, creating a $100B+ company.

In August 2012, I left Express Scripts and joined Maritz and Evolve24 in a dual role. I was the Senior Director of Innovation & Growth, working in a newly created Innovation & Growth division of the company, while also wearing the hat of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of their Evolve24 division. Evolve24 was one of the first social media intelligence companies that built capabilities to mine data from the likes of Twitter, and then turning that data into insights for their customers. It was a fun ride, but short lived because a much bigger opportunity came knocking – Red Bull!

Shortly after starting with Maritz/Evolve24, I was approached by an executive recruiter for the Red Bull CIO role…which is what led me to Santa Monica in January 2013.

I spent the next 4.5 years at Red Bull helping them build a world-class IT function in North America. During my time there they grew from ~$3B in North American revenues to over $4B – representing more than 50% of their global revenues. During my time there, not only did I transform the IT function, which was written up by Gartner, I also launched the first Insights & Analytics functions, as well as an innovation capability called “Red Bull Labs. It was a big job, and one of the most rewarding places I have ever worked. I hope to find a culture like theirs one day again. It was truly a blessing to have had the opportunity to work for them and be part of such a great team and brand.

After 4.5 years at Red Bull, I was approached by Beachbody to come lead Enterprise Technology for them as their Chief Information Officer. I did that for a little over 2 years before taking over the Digital Technology Team, creating the first unified Technology division for the company.

While at Beachbody, I have had the fortunate opportunity to work with so many smart and great people, while also getting to do some great work. I not only ran all their Corporate IT capabilities (the traditional IT stuff), but also their ~$1B Global E-Commerce platform, and all of their Digital engagement solutions – including Beachbody OnDemand (BOD) and BOD Interactive (BODi) – which includes both Live and Video-On-Demand streaming fitness solutions – which today has over 2.4M digital subscribers. My team eventually exceeded 240 FTE’s and over 500 total combined personnel, and a budget exceeding $140M. It has been a wonderful ride and a great company to work for and learn from. Our CEO is truly a visionary in this space.

Has it always been your vision to reach the position you’re at? Was your current role part of your vision to become a tech leader?

I would have never imagined I would make it to the top role in my profession. I’m truly blessed and fortunate to be where I am today. It’s a mixture of luck, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time.

When I reflect, I think I just always believed in working hard, constantly learning new things – given my natural intellectual curiosity – and building great teams and relationships. I love to mentor and grow people and do what’s right. I think by focusing on these things, I have been recognized by being given increasing responsibilities and bigger opportunities.

I would not be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for the people around me – both family and friends, but also the great colleagues that I have had the opportunity to work alongside over the years.

Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?

I have had so many that I would likely leave someone out. Each stop along my career journey has introduced me to so many people I have learned from and that have helped shape the leader I am today.

How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?

Without getting into specific technologies (as that will vary depending upon the topic), I would say the biggest thing I am seeing is the importance of technology within every industry. No longer is technology a back-office thing. It is front and center, and core to the strategic success of every single company in every industry. More and more CIO’s and CTO’s are now reporting directly to the CEO, and more and more CIO’s and CTO’s are turning into COO’s and CEO’s themselves…which tells me that it is becoming one of the most important roles in a company, and instrumental in their success. If you have a career in Technology today, you are in the right place at the right time. It’s a great place to be!

What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?

I think it’s two-fold. First and foremost, for Technology leaders is a true business mindset and understanding of the business. Secondly, at the individual level, it would be intellectual curiosity – the constant desire to embrace complex problems, learn new things, and grow.

How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?

I do a few different things. First, I read a lot – both books and online publications. Secondly, I network and meet with both technology and business leaders across various industries. And finally, I work to stay plugged in to the Venture Capital space, keeping an eye out on what they are investing in, while also working closely with them to help advise them on where problems are within industry – so that they can seek out solutions to these problems.

What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?

In the fitness space, I believe it’s Virtual Reality for sure. There is so much untapped potential there.

In general, the next wave of technology in the near-term is going to be leveraging Web3 technologies (e.g. Crypto, NFT, decentralization, etc) – and maybe in the not-so-distant future – quantum computing.

If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?

Embrace change, take the road less traveled, and take on the difficult projects and opportunities. If you are scared about what you are doing and feel like you are in over your head – that’s the moment to realize that you are at the start of something really big…if you just embrace it and give it your all.

Is there anything in particular that you would still like to achieve in your career or what is the next step on your journey?

I don’t think I will ever be done. I have completed many personality tests in the past, and the number one thing that seems to bubble to the top in each of them is my natural “achiever” personality trait. To be fulfilled, I need to achieve something on a daily basis.

However, I will say that over the course of the next 10 years, I’m also seeking more ways to give back. I think ultimately, we are all put on this earth to serve others. I want to find ways to serve more in my community and around the world. I have some things in the works, but that’s a topic for another time.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

If I could change one thing in this world, it would be that we all realize that life is truly short and that we need to spend more time with our family and friends, while giving more than we receive.

A big thank you to Bryan Muehlberger from The BeachBody Company for sharing his journey to date.

www.thebeachbodycompany.com

 

If you would like to gain more perspective from Tech Leaders and CIOs you can read some of our other interviews here.

 

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