My name is Rich DeMillo. I am currently the Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Professor of Computing and Management at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. I also direct Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities.
I’ve divided the first forty years of my career between academics, government and business, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be near the epicenter of many of the most important technology revolutions of my generation: the transition to software-intensive systems for military systems, the creative destruction of 100 year-old telephony technology and its virtual replacement by the Internet, the emergence of open source software as a market force, to mention just a few.
I was Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech during the rebirth of undergraduate education in computer science, Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard during the HP-Compaq merger, VP of Computer Science Research at Bellcore during the divestiture by the Regional Bell Operating Companies and the invention of e-commerce, Director of Computing Research at the National Science Foundation during the emergence of interdisciplinary research, head of the Software Test and Evaluation Project for the Secretary of Defense when military acquisition specialists were coping with the introduction of computer technology into new weapons systems.
When I left industry to return to academic life in 2002, I had an idea that I could help improve computer science education. It was an idea that was put to the test immediately because when I got to Georgia Tech, I found academic computer science in a state of panic. Enrollments were plummeting, women were staying away from our programs, students were unhappy, faculty were not engaged in the enterprise of education. It was easy to re-engage the faculty. They realized we would not succeed if we were timid. The result was a revolution in undergraduate education. I realized that much of what I learned when we pulled our undergraduate program from the abyss and created the widely adopted Threads program could be applied to any program and any university that was committed to change and innovation.
Good look and have fun…will add you to my blogroll
You said – working with Sanjiv was challenging – because he was aggressive in packaging the company for sale ? What type of management style did Sanjiv have ?
I will have a longer post about Sanjiv later, but the bottom line is that Sanjiv challenged me personally more than any other CxO I’ve ever worked for. Sanjiv has the ability to draw a line in the technology sand that advances a business goal and then challenges you to cross it. This is unlike the R&D investment strategy at HP, which I discussed in a prior post. Maybe it’s a matter of size or company scope (HP has hundreds of business, Bellcore had just a few) or maybe it’s a function of leadership with deep technical and operational abilities. In any event the lesson I learned from Sanjiv was to say to my direct reports: “Here’s what it takes to move the needle. Tell me how you can do it and what it will cost.” That’s challenging for a CTO because there’s no place to hide.