Lexmark International’s Vishal Gupta on next gen tech leadership

Third, Gupta has increased investment in training, especially in data science. When the team formed CTV, they had only five data scientists, and knew that, with data as a key part of their growth strategy, they’d need a much bigger team. “Each data scientist costs a quarter million dollars so we can’t hire 50 of them,” Gupta says. So he and his team partnered with North Carolina State University and the Department of Labor to build an AI Academy where Gupta enrolls a cohort of eight current Lexmark employees to train in data science. “They train for four hours a day for the entire year, are assigned a mentor, and receive coaching from professors at North Carolina State,” he says. “We’ve taken 50 people through the program so far with zero attrition.”

Technology leadership skills for the future

With software transforming businesses, as with Lexmark’s, boards need to be thinking differently about the skill sets and roles of their leaders. Leaders who have technology depth, a commercial lens, leadership skills, and an innovative mindset, like Gupta, don’t grow on trees.

In looking at the skills of his own potential successors, Gupta identifies three. Courage, technology curiosity, and collaboration.

While growth through acquisition is hard work, says Gupta, it doesn’t require much courage. But for companies that grow organically through innovation, leadership courage is key. “People can be afraid that if they try something new, and it fails, they risk their reputation,” he says. “We need leaders who will stick their necks out in pursuit of innovation.”

Second is a deep appreciation of technology and its commercial impact, which comes from curiosity, not necessarily a background in software engineering. Gupta encourages his team to speak at industry events, which requires them to dig more deeply into a technology topic, like generative AI.

The third skill is collaboration, or the ability to bring people together and let them know their voices are heard. “You need EQ not IQ to drive transformation,” Gupta says.

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