Bob Bruns on Humanity in Tech Leadership

What makes a great tech leader? The answer, as we heard from Bob Bruns, Avanade Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer, is surprisingly human. Our students, staff, and guests had the privilege of welcoming Bruns as the keynote speaker at our 2019 MSIS graduation ceremony. Bruns candidly shared four themes and lessons that have proved monumental to his personal and professional success. Here’s a look at the key takeaways regarding focusing on what matters most while contributing to disruption of the digital landscape.

Work Hard; Play Hard Have Empathy Be Bold and Direct Family First

Work hard; play hard. Maintaining a balanced life has been paramount to creating harmony between personal and professional success for Bruns. And on working hard, Bruns shared that his humble beginnings never held him back from achieving lofty professional goals. He said, “It’s not what you have, but what you do with what you have that matters.”

Have empathy. The simple, yet often undervalued, practice of active listening has proved a cornerstone of Bruns’ career when it comes to leading people and developing the next generation of leaders. He also encouraged graduates to take an active role in promoting diversity. On this he said, “To be empathetic, we all need to develop a global perspective. Results are better when we build and engage in diverse teams.”

Be bold and direct. Bruns said, “Being direct is the shortest path to success, and it’s taught me to be intentional with what I’m trying to accomplish.” He also noted that just as important is to be bold — bold decisions opens the door to great opportunities and teach us what’s important.

Family First. Finally, Bruns said that through tough lessons, he’s learned to never choose work over family. On this he said, “You’ll never regret putting family first, but you’ll likely regret choosing work over family.”

Bruns reminded us that even in a technology-focused world, humanity is still at the heart of digital transformation, and people are still at the center of our work. In order to be successful we must engage with those around us and stay actively involved with what’s important to each of us. It’s up to individuals to pick something that matters to them and make an impact.

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