Editor's Note: Steve George (above) is speaking at TechTomorrow, taking place on September 26-27, 2012 at COSI in Columbus. 

Steve George: Find Your Balance
By Terreece Clarke, September 19th, 2012

Steve George spends a good bit of time adapting to the frenetic pace of the banking industry. As the CIO of Retail and Business Banking at Huntington National Bank, there's no shortage of opportunities to balance the needs of the business with those of IT.

"Banking is certainly exciting right now," explains George. "Regulations are coming to us very quickly from many new government agencies. Sometimes we are told to plan for a new reg by a certain date, but are given no specific rules by the governing bodies until much later. This makes it very difficult to estimate, plan for, and fit around other priorities. Overall, I think we are learning to cope with this as, given the current conditions in the industry, this may be the norm for some time."

As one might imagine, it takes leadership to navigate the terrain between speed of delivery and quality.

George continues, "The tech guys want quality and the business wants to know how quickly it can get done. A CIO has to manage the message in the huddle of both groups."

Finding the Balance

Elaborating on his performance within 'the huddle' of IT and business stakeholders, George suggests that finding the right balance is one of the single most important things he - and every CIO - can do.

And how does he go about making that happen?

When asked about the one thing he does every day, that may benefit others who are looking for similar balance among stakeholder, he stated simply, Listen before I react. George suggested that leaders should take care to make sure the right things rise to the top before taking action.

Seeking balance can also result in trade-offs, such as giving up the idea of a 'perfect solution'.

George continues, The perfect tech solution will not always be the perfect business solution and the perfect business solution will not always be the perfect tech solution. You have to find that balance.

The Road to CIO

George believes that IT leaders who become invested in the discussion among these stakeholders groups should consider taking their career to the CIO level.

Any other advice for future CIOs?

"Spend time learning the business," he said. "Sit down and ask, 'What drives the P&L? How does that business make money and how can tech serve that aspect of the business?"

George's own winding road to CIO started with his love of gadgets as a kid. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Economics, when the bad economy pushed him from a career in the financial industry to an IT consulting career.

Closing Thoughts

Sharing his career path from IT consulting toward his current CIO role is what George plans on sharing at the TechTomorrow 2012 conference on September 26-27th at COSI in Columbus. The Aspiring CIO track is playing host to several IT leaders, each with their own perspective about navigating the pathway toward the role.

George asserts that the conference is great thing for Columbus, as well for IT leaders who are interested in growing their network while looking at problems differently.

"Columbus is not a big town, especially in tech," George said. "That network is critical to leverage."

He continues, "The problems we face, we don't assume someone in healthcare would have the same issues, but finding out how they have dealt with issues can give us good ideas and different ways of looking at issues.

George notes that looking at issues from different perspectives can filter what adds value and what doesn't - a sometimes difficult task for IT leaders in the fast moving IT industry.

"Tech changes so fast, if you don't keep up you'll quickly fall behind," he said. "Whatever the buzzword of the day, everyone with a "C" in their title talks about how we gotta have it," he said. "...[CIOs] should not apply every new trend. They have to understand where does it truly add value."