For Paul Haisman, CIO at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), business and technology are two sides of the same coin. Business leaders and IT leaders may approach challenges from different angles, but all have a shared goal: making decisions that propel organizations toward successful change and growth.

Paul is an active member of the Think IT Association, a peer professional development network of more than 3,500 members founded by York Solutions. Think IT connects IT leaders with diverse talents and experiences to develop their expertise, discuss work challenges, and build strong professional relationships.

We spoke with Paul about his career in IT and how he continues to learn and grow in an industry where change is the only constant.

Where did you start your career, and what experiences led you to the industry?

My interest in technology started at an early age around 8 years old when I traded my baseball cards for a Commodore VIC-20 computer. From that point, I learned BASIC programming and soon became hooked on computing technologies.

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing IT leaders/CIOs as a profession right now?

I think the greatest challenge facing IT leaders and CIOs today is finding new and innovative ways to leverage technology in order to remain competitive and value-driven. Technology has become a critical component to deliver products and services to satisfy stakeholders across the organization.

The technology landscape today requires organizations to bring the right information at the right time to the right people. That is a difficult task. Just consider the vast amounts of data and information that must be collected and transformed into usable forms across various platforms in order to make informed and rapid decisions.

How can IT leaders get business partners to think differently about the importance of IT?

I believe the key to obtaining business partner buy-in is for technology leaders to learn the business and become part of creating the strategic success factors. It is then up to the IT leaders to translate those success factors into how technology can and will be used in order to achieve those goals.

Additionally, it is just as critical for the business partners to understand how new technologies will be used. And, more importantly, they need to understand how technologies may change the way the organization works and what business processes or skills are needed in a continuous improvement environment.

What tips can you share to develop the next generation of IT leaders?

The technology environment is constantly evolving. My advice is that you never stop learning; you must continue to adapt your skills. It is also increasingly important to understand the business you are supporting. Become extremely knowledgeable about the strategic objectives and goals for the organization, and know how your planned and current work is directly tied to those goals.

Tell us a little bit about your specialties and passions within IT. What’s been your favorite project you’ve worked on over the years? What about your position in the industry gets you really excited?

My passions and specialties are focused on being part of rapid change and business growth – and seeing how technology plays a key part in that success. I don’t have a single favorite project. Projects at the top of my list are those that lead to transforming an organization to become more efficient and effective with measurable results. Fortunately, that description seems to fit most projects these days.

What gets me excited in my current role is that every day is different. There are always new problems to solve or challenges that crop up requiring thought leadership and decisive action.

Tell us about your personal brand.

My personal brand centers around the ability to be a business-driven IT leader. For me, this means a constant desire to understand the industry, market conditions, and business goals before making technology decisions. Technology decisions become much easier to make when you apply the right solutions to business problems, rather than trying to force-fit technology solutions into what you think might work.

What has been your most valuable experience as a Think IT member thus far?

I think the most valuable experience has been the ability to network and interact with likeminded professionals sharing experiences and lessons. It is extremely comforting to know that you are not alone facing the many challenges in this rapidly changing technology environment. Think IT has helped build a great sense of community where I feel comfortable sharing experiences and learning from others. I know I can count on this community, whether we’re attending events or any time in between.

What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

I find it very effective to start a day with some sort of exercise activity. For me, running gets my brain going, which helps me feel less stress throughout the day. Also, some of my best ideas have come during a morning run. I am also a student pilot working on my private pilot certificate. I find that doing something completely different like flying an airplane helps rejuvenate my mind – or maybe it’s the 45-degree turns and stall recoveries.

Interested in joining the Think IT Association? Learn more about the benefits of membership.