Vince Kellen is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for University of California San Diego Information Technology Services where he leads a staff of 275 supporting 28,000 students, 18 colleges, and 13,000 employees. Kellen is also a senior consultant and Business Technology Council member with the leading IT industry think-tank Cutter Consortium and serves on advisory boards to IT giants such as Dell, AT&T, Apple and Blackboard. He has a Ph.D. in computer science from DePaul University and is a regular on most social CIOs lists due to his popular Twitter account.
Talking about his professional success, Kellen told IT services it comes down to teamwork and passion. “It’s about teamwork. Building high-performance teams that can adjust well, correct each other midstream, hear diverse viewpoints, and come to good decisions. Then, more importantly, very quick, reliable execution. IT is a team game, so I’m a big fan of teamwork,” said Kellen.
“The other one is tapping into everybody’s passion. IT is very heavy knowledge work. I love to tap into people’s passions and align them with organization’s mission. We have all sorts of demands from our stakeholders, both inside the university and from outside. To meet all those demands, we’ve got to be passionate,” added the CIO.
Kellen also believes the CIO role is one responsible for connecting people to information technology. “In a way, I help integrate humans with information technology in the social, psychological, business, financial, and technical dimensions of this task. Humankind has only been using information technology for about a generation. We have much more to learn about how IT intertwines with our lives, our organisations, and how it will shape our futures. My role is to do my part to help guide that process,” Kellen told the University of California IT blog.
As a CIO, Kellen sees himself as a “pirate” and is more focused on strategy than on tools. “Technologists are usually concerned about tools and how we use them. To me those are variables. Those will come and go as we work out the strategy. Strategy is most important to the institution and should be top of mind for us in IT. We’ve got to be very, as I like to say, pirate-like in how we approach technology in order to address strategy. By pirate-like I mean that technology is made up of tools, and we drop the tool when we see that it isn’t going to work, and we get a new one. A lot of technologists have a hard time with that, but I’m a pirate, so I love to drop tools that aren’t going to work,” Kellen told IT services.
When it comes to IT in higher education, Kellen believes in pushing boundaries. “The biggest challenge to higher education is to use IT to help improve our outcomes while improving our cost-effectiveness, all in a “complex operation versus a volume operations” business. Technology automation works great in improving efficiency in volume operations businesses, but for it to work well in complex operations and higher education, we have to integrate IT with human processes and human thought in nuanced ways. This is the next frontier for IT in all businesses, how to use IT and analytics to improve what we do in complex activities. Higher education is one industry that is likely to be pushing the boundaries here,”Kellen told the University of California IT blog.
Finally, Kellen is a firm believer in CIOs collaborating for the greater good. “By sharing our practices and encouraging bottom-up collaboration we can invent systemwide solutions that deliver excellent benefits at a fraction of typical costs. Universities are the land of complex operations, necessarily and appropriately driven by the diversity of our academic programs, the multiple pedagogical methods in use, and the range and complexity of our research programs. Bottom-up collaborations are a great way to manage this complexity,” Kellen told the University of California IT blog.