Scott Findlater - CIO - Anord Mardix

SAM ESFAHANI

Chief Information Officer

Genesis Financial Solutions

SAM ESFANANI – CIO Interview Series


Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself

I live in Tampa, Florida, US . I have been in technology space for than 25 years , worked for many great companies such as First Data ( Fiserv) , TDAmeritrade , Chase , Key Bank, PSCU, AgFirst , and Genesis Financial Solutions. I have been in the CIO role for the past 12 years

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

My career started as an Industrial Engineer focusing on process improvement and then quickly moved to programming and technology. my background in Industrial Engineering helped me to understand system thinking and how technology solutions can be improved and provide better solutions to customers. I have worked for many financial companies in US and that gave me a wide perspective on best practices and how to sharpen my leadership skill set.

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 loved technology but more appealing to me was leading people and organizations. I spent many hours studying various leaders and organizations to understand the best practices, in addition working for many top companies provided me the skill sets and preparedness for the CIO position

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

Throughout my life and career, I had many teachers and coaches formally and informally, two people had the most impact in my life, one was my father with great wisdom, care and knowledge and the other one was Mr. Fritz Nuffer , a retired US Lieutenant Colonel and Senior Vice President Fist Data.

Fritz showed me how the leader acts, how he treats his people, hard work, discipline, staying calm under pressure, how to gain loyalty and respect from his team and how to develop people . He was a great role model for me and set me on the path of leadership.

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

With fast changing environment particularly after Covid and remote workforce, and change in customer expectations, technology leaders must be resilient, adaptive and ability to create productive and empowering environment for their staff. Understanding risks and fast trends should be at the top of their list. How to pivot quickly and execute on values, building trust level and credibility with their business staff as well as partners is Paramount in these time.

Technology leaders should sharpen their skill sets on the industry that they are serving as well how they can utilize AI, Cloud, Data Analytics and Automation to enable business to achieve their goals faster

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

Ability to manage risks, deal with vulnerability, uncertainty, complexities, and ambiguity ( VUCA) . A future leader has to be on the path of continuous learning and understand business, technical and societal trends. Focusing just on execution and managing cost no longer will be enough. A future leader must focus on unleashing the hidden potentials of her people and involved them in decision making. Be inclusive but then decisive. Create a vison and communicate and sell your vison to all the stakeholders. Be flexible to adopt new idea and do not entangle with confirmation bias, evaluate options based on facts not emotion. command and control style of leadership will no longer suffice for new work force and their expectations on organization.

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

Networking with technology people, listening to various podcast, reading various books on Philosophy, technology, politics and human behavior and be observant.

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

AI , Automation, Virtual Realities ( VR), mobile enhancement (perform transaction anywhere, anytime) , open banking and open system, buy now pay later concept, as well as remote work and drastic change in workforce expectations and relationship to organizations.

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

Know yourself, know your strength and weaknesses, do not inflate your talents and skill sets, be confident but not arrogant, as a leader you do not have to be the smartest person in the room, respect diverse ideas, listen, and be able to develop your people, acknowledge their good work but do not shy away from giving them accurate and timely feedback. Be able to do course correction and let the low performers with low desire go to create space for someone else. Establish credibility and willing zone to inspire people. Remember life is a journey, live the life, learn and develop yourself.

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 would like to continually contribute as a mentor, as well as improving myself as a better leader and a person .

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

Peace and harmony, universal education and emphasis on environment, democracy across the globe, and improving lives of many that they do have the privileges.

Other details that you’d like to add:

Being a leader is not a title, it is the earned respect and credibility that someone has to gain, a given title as a leader only last for few months, but gaining the respects of your staff, colleagues and partners are the true sign of leadership. You have to walk the talk and show your true character.
A big thank you to Sam Esfahani from Genesis Financial Solutions for sharing his journey to date.

 

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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