Episode 4 | May 5, 2021
Andrew Campbell, Terex CIO
Andrew talks with us about a number of topics, including the concept of purposeful innovation at Terex, the drawbacks to single-vendor environments, his reasons for being a servant leader, and more.
- Working in IT at Xerox & GE (1:00)
- Your job is everyone's hobby (2:17)
- The drawbacks of single vendor environments (6:50)
- Terex's Innovation Council (9:17)
- Servant leadership (12:25)
- Hunter Muller & HMG Strategy (15:57)
- Advice from John Repko (17:50)
- What drives you? (18:39)
“I always try and remind my peers that the competition is outside the company, not inside the company.”Andrew Campbell
Luke [00:00:00] This is Atolio conversations, I’m Luke Alie. Andrew Campbell is the chief information officer at Terex Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial equipment like Tower Cranes, Crushers, Boom Lifts and more, basically all the big cool industrial equipment. Andrew also has experience working across several other industries, including having previously held CIO roles at Xerox and GE. In our conversation, Andrew and I talk about this concept of purposeful innovation. His approach to servant leadership, what fundamentally motivates him and more. And with that, over to my conversation with Andrew.
Luke [00:00:55] Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the podcast,
Andrew [00:00:58] Luke, it’s great to be here. Thank you for the offer.
Luke [00:01:00] So I want to just start by talking a little bit about your background. I know you’ve worked primarily in I.T. across a number of industries. So I was wondering if you could just tell me a little bit about what it’s now like being at the intersection of it and manufacturing.
Andrew [00:01:15] So I have worked across multiple industries. I’ve worked across manufacturing, service, print, big industrial equipment, security systems. And I would say that through all of it, the interesting thing that I find is that the I.T. organizations, as I entered into them, typically were not actually part of the product of the company. And you could look and say, OK, well, sure, we make a crusher and that takes big stones and turns it into little stones. Everybody needs aggregate. But what does it have to do with that? Well, we actually are now introducing a lot more technology into our equipment that requires what I call a heartbeat. Right. It actually you don’t just send it out to the to the work site. It now actually goes out to the work site and constantly is talking back to you. You know, that’s where you need it skills to come in and really be able to help bridge the gap. What I really say is between engineering and products that that have, as I said, a heartbeat.
Luke [00:02:14] Speaking of the relationship between it and the other sort of departments and the rest of the company, I I know you made an interesting comment that your job is everybody’s hobby. I was wondering if you could just maybe just expand on that point a little bit. I have some follow up questions, but I wonder if you could tell me what you meant by that.
Andrew [00:02:32] Sure. And I can’t take credit for the the term it was. Another individual actually told me said and you’ve got to remember that your job is everybody’s hobby because technology is everywhere. And quite frankly, it’s much easier to be consumed today than it was even five, 10 years ago. Right. And what I mean by that is as an I.T. organization, I certainly think we bring a different level of skill than everybody’s hobby. But I think it is important for us as an organization to recognize that, you know, our business partners, our customers, our suppliers, they do have technology skills. And if we don’t actually sort of acknowledge that and understand what it is they already have the capability to do or what it is they think they can do. Well, if we don’t appreciate that, then we’re going to be seen as pushing things on to our business partners here. You’ve got to use this tool or know you’ve got to do it that way versus being able to say, OK, well, they have an appreciation of how they want to automate a certain process. Now, let’s help them with the pay. They can’t get to the data sources that are needed for that because maybe they’re not their departments, not the owner of that data, but we can help them get that right. So I look at it and say we can’t be afraid as an I.T. organization that that our business partners actually have technology skills or capabilities. It’s more OK, great they do. How do we make them even better then?
Luke [00:04:04] Fantastic. I like that sort of bottom up approach and it kind of speaks a little bit to the your servant leadership style that I know that you’ve spoken about. But I do want to ask you about. But I guess that based on the way you gave that answer, I’d be curious to hear about what your thoughts are on this idea of like shadow I.T. or even if you think that, like, is a term that is a valid term,
Andrew [00:04:28] you know, I don’t have a hard and fast feeling on shadow it what I do think is certain technology, skunkworks or playing around with. I actually think that’s healthy and that will often start in what might be viewed as a shadow. It the challenge that I see is, is more when a business partner feels as though, hey, if I pull in the organization, I’m not going to be able to go as fast as this consultant tells me I can, only to find that later down the road they need an integration to something or it wasn’t actually sustainable in the way that it was presented to him where an I.T. partner might be able to help him out through that. So really, one of the things I caution my business is leadership team on is, look, there’s almost nothing today that you’re going to do in your operations that doesn’t have the technology implication. You want to stand up a new service center. You’ve got to get it connected. You want to deploy a new product, you’re going to you’re going to have to maintain the building materials to make sure we have a conversation in the beginning so that we can actually be helpful to each other. And that does also, by the way, require you to make sure your I.T. organization thinks more in a way, how do I actually be an asset, not how do I just do my IT job? Right. Because if you get stuck in the. This is what. My job is versus well, I’m actually here to be an asset to the company. Yes, this might be my told, my title, my role, but what’s most important is actually how am I adding value to the company? So shadow it. You know what? I look at it and say I’m not going to get too worked up over it. I’ve never been one that felt like there’s a land grab or hey, somehow I’ve got to have it all or I’m not going to be able to control it and instead let that be a little innovative group that’s working. And then when it when we learn about it, figure out if we can actually help accelerate it. Right. Or, hey, wait a minute, you’re heading in the wrong direction. Let me show you how I can get you out of a bind that you don’t even see your coming. So that’s really been my my my approach around shadow it it’s going to exist. And it’s sometimes it’ll be a good thing. Sometimes it’ll be a clean up and you go on from there.
Luke [00:06:49] I think that’s an admirable perspective, especially because I think there are definitely, at least on the surface, some advantages to having a more prescriptive top down approach and forming like a single vendor partnership. Right.
Andrew [00:07:06] You know, it’s consistency. Fewer of things to manage, all sound like good things. Right. But that can also stifle innovation. And I give a great example of with the various telematics efforts across the across our organization, I would actually kind of describe them in the early days. It was almost, hey, don’t look over here. I don’t want you to take away what I’m doing. And and I could have looked over the top and said, well, why are we using four different solutions? Let’s just combine that will get economies of scale, blah, blah, blah. We didn’t do that. And the reason is because we weren’t experts at it yet. So let’s actually allow the innovation of each of those four to grow and run. And what we actually did was figured out how do we actually pour accelerant on them so that they can actually go faster than they were on their own. Part of that is for collaboration. Hey, how do you solve that? OK, maybe that’ll work for me. Other was actually being able to direct investment dollars towards them. The phenomenal thing here is we have some tremendously powerful telematics programs. I’m proud of our connected equipment. And now we’ve actually reached the point where we’re saying, okay, there are some synergies across those. Let’s start to go after those synergies, data aggregation, right, better analytics against it, that, hey, everybody doesn’t need to solve that independently. But if we had from the beginning just said, well, we’re going to do it one monolithic way, we would have stalled under our own weight and we wouldn’t have gotten as many rich learnings as we did because we had a few different people working in different in different groups to be able to solve that. So I do think there are certain areas where, hey, you know, I’m going to have one vendor who does X for me, but there’s other places where I think you’ve got to be open to the idea that, you know, let a few different playout, you’ll get some learnings and and ultimately better solutions.
Luke [00:09:13] That reminds me of a topic that I wanted to ask you about, which is the Innovation Council of Terex. You’ve talked elsewhere about being part of this council that was designed to help support the different groups of people who are innovating at Terex. So can you tell me a little bit about the Innovation Council and what the most surprising takeaway from that has been?
Andrew [00:09:39] It started off small. It was our CEO, CFO, our chief strategy officer, and myself. As the four of us work together, we obviously kind of make sure we understood what was going on in the company in terms of different innovation pieces. And as we grew in our understanding in how we were supporting different groups, what we really came to is the realization that we’re not doing new science innovation. Right. We’re not finding the next atom to split. We’re going after purposeful innovation. And we actually put that label on it and said, you know, we that’s what’s important to us around innovation. Purposeful innovation, by the way, could mean applying something that’s already been done in, say, another industry and applying it to ours. So I think one of the most interesting learnings out of it was that just by changing the language a little bit around innovation, one, it became less scary and scary in different ways. Hey, if I don’t come up with some brand new invention, I’m not innovating. Scary also from a say from a CFO or CEO. Hey, am I spending money on things that I have no idea if they’re going to pay off, but simple language change around purposeful innovation. What is this going to do for the customer? What is this going to do for the safety in our factories? What is this going to do for the team members? What is this going to do for our shareholders? Even just shaping the language around innovation gave it more confidence in the company.
Luke [00:11:09] I really like this idea of pulling the concept of innovation down from this sort of sci fi idea to something concrete, no pun intended, and something that’s very directly aligned to the organization’s overall mission.
Andrew [00:11:29] Well, you mentioned concrete. I’ll give you an example of purposeful innovation. So we sell concrete mixers. That’s one of our product lines. We basically have a digital technician on board now, and that’s purposeful innovation. It’s like, OK, well, how do I actually allow somebody, a customer who’s got something going on with the truck? How do we let them actually talking to somebody on the phone or over FaceTime, be able to be serviced remotely or at least do the diagnostics so that if when a service technician shows up, they know what they need to do when they get there, they have the parts or what have you. That’s just a simple example of, OK, well, we did connectivity. We collect you fault codes or things that are going on. Customer can actually talk to us. We can see the machine at the same time. Great. Here’s what you need to do. Or Will will be out there to take care of you.
Luke [00:12:25] So let’s talk about your leadership style, which I know you’ve described servant leadership. Can you talk a bit about that?
Andrew [00:12:32] So around servant leadership. So when I joined Terex or before I joined Torex, I certainly wanted to learn about the company. One of those things is reading up on the company values. And there was servant leadership. And it in the description just absolutely rang true to me to the point where something we’re kind of tested it out in the interviews and team members that I got a chance to meet with. But it was it was a label, quite frankly, that I had not been able to put on what I would largely describe what my leadership style is. And that’s look, I have a role to play. You have a role to play just like a good team. You need people to be good at their roles to be a successful team. My role is to help make sure everybody else has got what they need to be successful in their role. Right. And that also means getting out of their way if I’m in their way for them to be successful. So this notion of I’m not I’ve never been a leader, whether it’s a top down, you do this, you do that, you do that versus collectively, this is what we need to achieve. How do we get there? OK, everybody’s got their piece, run with it. Ask for help when you need it, run with it, ask for help when you need it and to see it in the company values of Terex. As I was joining, I, I, it warms my heart because I think I know from experience you I’m going to be more successful as more people around me are successful. I’m not going to be more successful by beating one of my peers and somehow stepping on them to look taller. I always try and remind people, my team members, my peers, what have you, the competition. Is outside the company, not inside the company, so let’s remember who we’re competing with and we have to be better together to be able to beat the competition.
Luke [00:14:36] Did you have a mentor or a person that you learned the most from in terms of your leadership style?
Andrew [00:14:42] I would probably go back to when I was a kid with my dad. My dad was always very supportive of whatever thing I wanted to do right before I had my first job where I got a paycheck, I was running around the neighborhood with my lawn mower and mowing mowing lawns. Right. As soon as I was able to drive, I built a wood contraption in the back of this little Plymouth horizon that I could ride a lawn, push mower up and drop it in low and behold. One day my dad comes home and he’s got magnetic signs to put on the side of the car. So I would say it started there without even thinking about it. And then as I progressed through, I’ve been very fortunate to have several leaders that were of that style. So I got the chance to be a beneficiary of that. And I also saw enough of people who weren’t leaders that way. And I could see people that worked for them. They weren’t as happy, they weren’t as successful. And I think it’s I think it’s a bit through osmosis that that that’s how I grew into that being my leadership style.
Luke [00:15:55] Speaking of leadership styles, I know that you’ve been involved in the Geostrategy Network. And I wanted to hear about what some of the benefits have been of being part of that CIO, peer to peer community.
Andrew [00:16:10] So I’ve been part of the HMG network. I’ve known Hunter for it’s got to be 11 years now. So he’s a pretty dynamic individual. He does a phenomenal job bringing together technology leaders. And what I’ve what I’ve really gotten out of that network is I do not fall victim to or fall in the trap of is maybe a better way of saying it being very internally focused. So small story. I started my career with GE at the time, was a phenomenal company and it was big and you had lots of opportunities within GE. So you could be in almost any industry and still be a GE employee after I left you. And really being part of the HMG network, what I really learned was, wow, you can miss learnings by not looking outside. So the exchange that I have with other technology leaders is part of it, one that lets me share my ideas and get feedback on them. It lets me hear what others are doing that I hadn’t thought of. Hey, how can I apply that? Hey, what are other people doing to win the support of their constituents? Right. For me, the biggest piece is not being internally focused. You only kind of look at the world of technology as a technology leader through the lens of the company you’re in today. And really being part of the network forces me just by participation. It forces me because I’m immersed in it to get different perspectives. That’s probably the biggest thing for me.
Luke [00:17:48] That’s great. Can you tell me about somebody you’ve gotten advice from from the network?
Andrew [00:17:54] You know, I had a chance as part of the HMG network to reconnect with an individual that I actually interviewed with, did not get the job. He gave me some fantastic advice. Gentlemens, John Repco, he told me, think bigger. He basically was telling me that, yeah, I could do the role, but he wasn’t going to offer it to me because he thought I should be thinking bigger. And that actually phenomenal advice. And it and it ultimately it gave me a bigger boost in my career.
Luke [00:18:32] I bet that is valuable advice. So last question. What is the best question I haven’t asked you yet?
Andrew [00:18:43] Best question you haven’t asked me yet is maybe just what drives me. What drives me has changed over time, over my career, early in my career. I wanted to make a name for myself, whatever that meant. And I didn’t really know what that meant at the time. So I worked hard. You know, I did everything from working long hours to making sure I was raising my hand for the difficult projects that somebody wanted to get done. And but what drives me now is is very much about the success of people around me, whether that’s at work, whether that’s in my family, whether it’s in my community. And that has that’s something that I think I’ve grown as a person. And look at this past year, we had some terrible it’s not just this past year. This past year, it made much bigger news, the terrible racial injustices across the US. And so now Terex is tackling diversity, equity and inclusion that you’re seeing that pop up on on more companies agendas. And I think there’s a ton of room for improvement and it starts with uncomfortable conversations. And so what drives me is actually how can I make more people around me? Successful, long winded answer. But but when I feel good about.
Luke [00:20:01] Well, injured, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Andrew [00:20:04] Take care.
Luke [00:20:07] Thanks to Andrew Campbell for the conversation and to Tom Tierney for the music. Be sure to subscribe and follow Tolisso on LinkedIn.