An interview with Falahyar Fatmi, Vice President of Information Technology, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Insights from Falahyar Fatmi, Vice President of Information Technology at the Corcoran in Washington, DC and a 2005 alumnus of the Master of Science in Technology Management program at George Mason University. Falahyar has over 15 years of technology experience, mainly in the telecommunications and non-profit sectors.
The Corcoran is comprised of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art + Design. With a leading collection of American art and over 700 full-time students, the Corcoran was one of the first fine art galleries in the U.S. and is the only Washington institution that is both a gallery and a college.
Gain “must-have” CIO competencies
“When we think about leading in the technology arena, we tend to think about the operations side of the job—managing projects, providing systems to areas like finance and budgeting, maximizing resources. These are all important. But there’s another set of abilities and competencies that are just as critical—if not more important—to the effective CIO.
To help their organization achieve its strategic goals, CIO’s need to become skillful on both the hard and soft sides of the IT equation:
- Building relationships—helping executives understand the opportunities that IT can create and facilitate
- Learning to listen – so that we can better target our IT objectives and as a result engage users more effectively
- Negotiating skills—helpful in selling ideas and implementing the ever-present change that is part of IT progress
For me, and for my fellow students, earning the U.S. government CIO certification that is part of Mason’s masters of technology management was a sure path to developing this dual knowledge. We learned to achieve business needs within a context of communicating and responding effectively. The twelve CIO Council Core Competencies that are incorporated into the Mason curriculum—ranging from leadership to IT policy to cybersecurity—combined with our work experience to provide a good foundation.
This breadth of capabilities really comes into play as CIO’s take on more influence as Chief Innovation Officers. Today, we’re often charged with generating the ideas and translating them into workable technical solutions. To do this, we need to foster open environments that encourage thought and allow people to take calculated risks, and, yes, to make mistakes. In the end, the teams we create are more productive and we all learn more.”
Among the innovations at the top of Falahyar’s list since his arrival at the Corcoran: Moving the Gallery’s legacy systems to the cloud, exploring mobile apps that will bring the Corcoran’s collections to students from kindergarten through high school and enhancing Corcoran’s e-commerce capability so that alumni can offer their artwork worldwide.