Terry Mirza, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Compugen Inc in Canada and President of Compugen Systems Inc in the US, came into IT on a mission for an entirely different career. Entering the field at one of its most exciting times in history, he quickly discovered that IT wasn’t the stepping stone he’d expected. It was actually his way forward.
When he was in university, his mind was set on becoming a stockbroker in New York or a capitalist investor building his own business. “The last thing on my mind was technology,” Mirza says.
But the early 90s was an interesting time to be in the technology arena. PC price drops were bringing machines into every household. Affordability for IT systems scaled from larger enterprises to the general business owner. When an opportunity to intern at IBM came up, Mirza jumped at the chance.
“I found myself learning, growing and realizing that I was part of something really special enabled by the Internet,” Mirza says. “It was a new way to communicate and conduct business—an innovative pathway for a global market.”
After IBM, Mirza was seeking his dream job as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. At the same time, Compugen was steadily climbing the ranks as a national provider of IT solutions. While interviewing there in 1999, on the eve of Y2K, Mirza felt Compugen’s amazing culture, which empowered its staff and focused on company culture and values. This was more than the common quota target. “I saw an opportunity at Compugen to build something special,” he says.
Fast-forward to 2023, and Mirza is an experienced leader who values optimism—if you can envision it, believe in it, and put effort there, you can achieve it. He advises against strictly focusing on near-term targets that constrain bigger goals. He also believes in Stephen Covey’s Speed of Trust matrix, which says high-performance teams are built on a combination of character, integrity, intent, competency, capability, results and trust.
“If trust is not established, we don’t truly collaborate—we simply communicate,” Mirza says. “The sooner we can build trust in our professional relationships, the sooner we can innovate, enable rapid decision-making, and be on the ‘same side of the table’ serving the same outcome together.”
He also believes in high-performance principles he learned playing competitive sports—talent remains unrealized without hard work, no one is larger than the collective, and members of a successful team benefit from each other’s success.
“Playing to be the MVP is not nearly as enrichening as being a part of a diversely talented team with the camaraderie that energizes all moments of the journey,” he says.
Marketing Leadership in the New Era of IT
Technology has shifted to a global marketplace in which access to customers, talent and knowledge is just a click away. The pandemic proved overnight that society and the global economy can still function thanks to digital tools as the world transformed at an unprecedented pace.
This shift has created both a “digital divide” and a sustainability concern, which demands that companies pay attention to equal access and planetary safety as part of their social responsibility priorities.
The marketing team is critical in this conversation by enabling employees to be brand ambassadors that live the company’s mission, vision and values. Above and beyond the branding aspect, consistent communication, both internally and externally, reinforces key measures on impact, culture and share of voice, which are leading indicators of today’s modern corporation.
Are You a Technology Company or a Company that Simply Uses Technology?
Leadership today must determine the role of technology in their business. Is it there to enable productivity and provide staff a way to communicate? Or, does it play a larger role in transforming creativity throughout the company and fostering new ways of reaching markets?
“This difference may feel subtle, but it allows you to get clarity on how you define the role of IT in the business,” Mirza says.
Technology spans the business and is integral to every department. The modern workspace is a combination of real estate, people and culture, and technology. Security is a business issue across all departments, not simply the technology team. Data is key to agile decision-making and forward-looking direction—it sits in the back office and right into the line of business where revenue is generated.
“Do not think of technology projects; think about business outcomes and IT’s role in achieving them,” he concludes.
Learn more about Compugen at compugen.com
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