Christopher Surdak is an award-winning expert in Mobility, Social Media, Analytics, Big Data, Cyber Security, Regulatory Compliance, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud with over 30 years of experience. He began his career with Lockheed Martin Astrospace, where he was a spacecraft systems engineer and rocket scientist.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Chris shared his insights on the role of digital transformation in businesses, his career trajectory, current roles and responsibilities, words of wisdom, future plans, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
The term digital transformation is constantly used today by executives and companies across all industries. What does this term mean to you?
Transformation is not doing things differently thanks to technology and data, it is doing different things because of them. It is recognizing that context, the placement of things in space and time, determines their true value.
Chris, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest? How did you get into the digital transformation space?
I started work as a spacecraft systems engineer with Lockheed, focused on systems resilience and failure analysis. I then spent some time as a strategy consultant, learning corporate strategy and finance. I then spent a decade building first generation ecommerce platforms, later switching to cybersecurity and eDiscovery. This then led to architecting Big Data solutions, specifically for personalization of social media platforms. This work led me to privacy, regulatory compliance, and legal issues associated with large scale data analytics. More recently, I have returned to my work in digital transformation, based upon the use of automation platforms such as RPA and AI.
Please tell us about your roles and responsibilities as the Managing Director at Quantiqs, Inc.
I assist clients in understanding the technical, business and regulatory implications of new platforms such as blockchain or generative AI, and how to use these technologies to achieve true digital transformation.
In your opinion, what is more important, being technologically fluent or excellent at working with people?
Amateurs focus on technology; professionals focus on data and people. Technology changes every few months, people are the one constant in nearly all technology projects.
What would you say are the keys to a successful digital transformation?
Accepting that it will be painful, and if it is not painful you are not transforming. Know the goal, not the path.
What are the imperative qualities that our forward-looking leaders must adopt to transform businesses for the future?
Leadership. Humility. Courage.
What, personally, has allowed you the success you have had in the role of a digital transformation leader?
Remain curious, conscientious and consistent.
What are your passions outside of work?
Motorcycling, flying, hiking, falconry
What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Help others to learn what I have learned. Continue to learn until I no longer can.
What would be your recommendations to large organizations like yours as they look to maintain momentum in their digital transformation journeys?
Disruptive metrics lead to disruptive outcomes, and the one thing you can never get back is time.