Greeks are historically known for their unyielding perseverance and fighting spirit. While this opening statement may seem broadly generalized, my choice is rooted in a recent conversation with Chris Moschovitis, a Greek. Born and raised in Athens, his interest in computers grew during high school, under the guidance of his mentor, Sotos Antoniades, a UNISYS system support engineer. The year was 1976, a time when computers were transitioning from academic and business settings to consumer homes. However, originally, he aspired to pursue a Physics degree in the US. Chris Moschovitis enrolled at the State University of New York, Brockport, graduating with double majors in Physics and Computer Science in 1983, the subjects that were close to his heart. He also majored in Mathematics, as it played an integral role in the study of both subjects.
By 1985, Chris Moschovitis became the Director of Academic Computing at Pratt Institute, followed by the role of VP of IT at The O’Connor Group in 1987. In 1989, he founded his own company, Technology Management Group (TMG) LLC, specializing in independent Strategic Consulting, Information Technology, and Cybersecurity managed services.
Chris Moschovitis proudly asserts that he was involved in cybersecurity even before the term existed. He and his partner were actively involved in collecting computer viruses and researching methods to combat them – a time when floppy disks and Lotus 1-2-3 were prevalent. (We recently featured TMG, and delved into their cybersecurity expertise in detail, read the article here: cyberCTRL Powered by TMG – A Complete Cybersecurity Solution Partner You Can Count On)
Certified in Cybersecurity (CSX, CISM), Enterprise IT governance (CGEIT), Data Privacy Solutions Engineering (CDPSE), and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US), Chris Moschovitis is a member of esteemed organizations like ISACA, IAPP, and ISSA. He has authored books such as “Cybersecurity Program Development for Business: The Essential Planning Guide” and “Privacy, Regulations, and Cybersecurity: The Essential Planning Guide.” Additionally, Chris Moschovitis co-authored “History of the Internet: 1843 to the Present” and contributed to the “Encyclopedia of Computers and Computer History” and the “Encyclopedia of New Media.”
I take this opportunity to present you with the inspiring career journey of Chris Moschovitis, hoping it illuminates your path to an executive top position.
Describe your career progression from the start to where you are and what were pivotal decisions, moves you made, circumstances, and other facts that facilitated your growth.
I was still in high school in Athens Greece when I met Mr. Sotos Antoniades, a man that would become one of my closest friends and mentor in the field. At the time, I wanted to attend a university in the United States, and I was focused on a career in Physics, experimental physics to be exact. Sotos was the one to clue me into the computer revolution going on in 1976!
Sotos worked with UNIVAC (now UNISYS) as a system support engineer, and he brought me in as his intern. We worked on several projects together while still in high school and later during my summer vacations from school. I was hooked! When I enrolled at the State University of New York, Brockport I declared a double major: Physics and Computer Science. I ended up with three majors since Mathematics was integral to the study of both subjects.
Following graduation, two things became clear: First, if I was to pursue a career in Physics, I would have to get a Ph.D. A very long and expensive road. On the other hand, I had fallen in love with Computer Science and couldn’t see myself leaving the field. My first job out of school was to be an instructor of Computer Science at a two-year college. There I discovered my second great love: Teaching. I excelled at it and enjoyed sharing knowledge and teaching.
A few years later, following a national search, I was appointed as the Director of Academic Computing at Pratt Institute. My years at Pratt were nothing short of amazing. Working hand-in-hand with Dr. Southard, a gifted manager and computer visionary, we set out to transform the school. The computer revolution was in full swing. The first MacIntosh computer was out. The first IBM PC and PC AT were being introduced. High-speed networking and BITNET were all the rage! At Pratt I was responsible for the building and running of five computer centers each focused on a different discipline: Engineering, Architecture, Fine Arts, Information Sciences, and Communications. We were one of the first universities to experiment and demonstrate computer animation, way before CGI was a term. It was an amazing time, full of creativity and innovation.
Three years later, with this incredible experience under my belt, I was recruited to be the VP of IT at The O’Connor Group, a real estate developer in New York that was managing, at the time, over $4 billion in assets. I was able to translate my academic computing experience into business experience implementing new accounting and management systems. There I was mentored by the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Len Blumberg whose kindness and insight were instrumental in my success in the role.
I left The O’Connor Group in 1989, in the middle of a recession, to start my own consultancy. I invested every dime I had into starting my firm. There were many challenges and many rejections in my way. But I never looked back. I did not waver; I didn’t consider any alternative other than success.
Looking back at the time between graduation and the start of my company I can see how absolutely critical the influence of the key mentors in my life was: Sotos, urging me to consider Computer Science, Dr. Southard’s advice and guidance, Len Blumberg’s business acumen and operations knowledge. All of them shaped me as a professional and ultimately as the CEO of my firm, Technology Management Group (TMG), a go-to managed IT and managed cybersecurity services provider.
What are the key skills and qualifications that aspiring tech executives in the tech industry should focus on developing to enhance their career prospects?
I would argue that four critical skills aspiring tech executives must have: Empathy, Communication, Problem Solving, and Technical Expertise. Specifically, empathy so they can truly understand the world from the other person’s viewpoint. Communications, so that the conversation is not at each other, over or under, but in sync. Finally, problem-solving is all about the capacity to imagine and innovate solutions and technical expertise to establish the foundation to build your career on, and ongoing certifications, and continuing education.
What are some key milestones or achievements that tech executives should aim for at various stages of their career to demonstrate their growth and readiness for higher-level roles?
The milestones I look for when I hire my executives are demonstrated experience in increasingly complex technical environments and experience in managing people. If you’re doing both these two things well you quickly become indispensable.
How important is it for tech executives to actively seek out mentorship or coaching opportunities to advance their careers? What benefits can they derive from such relationships?
To actively seek mentorship or coaching opportunities demonstrates curiosity, initiative, and commitment to the profession. No one can do it on his or her own. No one. Being smart enough to recognize this early and seek mentorship proves to everyone your dedication and wisdom.
In your experience, what role does professional networking play in the career progression of tech executives? How can tech executives effectively build and leverage their networks?
Professional networking has been the primary source of business, ideas, and employees for my firm. I cannot think of a more important business and career development activity than networking. But, like all things, you need to be strategic. You need to be involved in networking that is a good fit for your goals.
Are there any specific certifications, advanced degrees, or executive education programs that can significantly enhance the career prospects of tech executives in the tech industry? Which ones would you recommend?
Absolutely! The one word you need to know is ISACA, the international organization that certifies IT and cybersecurity professionals worldwide. Second, seek specific vendor certifications from vendors that have wide recognition and market penetration. This vertical expertise can be a career changer.
Can you share any examples of notable tech executives who have successfully transitioned from one role (e.g., CIO) to another (e.g., CEO) within the same organization or industry? What factors contributed to their success?
I have had the privilege of coaching two CTOs who moved to COO and CEO positions. In both cases, they were able to move up from a strong technical foundation to management because of their problem-solving, communication, and people skills.
How important is it for tech executives to cultivate a personal brand and establish thought leadership within the industry? What are some effective ways for tech executives to showcase their expertise and gain visibility?
It is very important to cultivate a personal brand, but it is even more important when this personal brand contributes in a meaningful way to the advancement of the profession. Your experience and expertise should not be hidden gems! Share your knowledge in articles, conference presentations, books, and talks. Don’t be the secret that no one knows. You’d be of no use to anyone.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring tech executives who are looking to accelerate their career progression and make a lasting impact in the tech industry?
My advice is to stay focused. Our profession is in constant flux, more so than any other. It is easy to get distracted or overwhelmed. Stay the course. Learn. Listen. Listen carefully and actively. Apply yourself, be kind, be creative, and be generous.
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