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Leadership Interviews

CareerBuilder Leadership Series: Spotlight on Jeff Akers, CEO of Critigen

In the following excerpt from CareerBuilder’s recent interview with Jeff Akers, Chief Executive Officer of Critigen,  he discusses the experience of being a “new” brand and the  power of humility, integrity and vision.

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY AS IT RELATES TO PEOPLE AND THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR DAILY BUSINESS? At Critigen, we have created a vision, mission and values for our business that enables us to set a stage for the behavior we have with customers and with each other every day. Our worth at Critigen is housed within the intellectual property of our people, and it is invaluable. Our core values are Teamwork, Respect, Accountability, Integrity and Innovation and we know each of our associates have these and we foster an environment where these grow every day.

HOW DO YOU ENGAGE WITH AND RELATE TO YOUR EMPLOYEES? First off, we call everyone that works at Critigen ‘associates’ because we believe that term brings about the realization of equal value and teamwork on behalf of our clients. I actively reach out to our  associates every day. Connecting with our talent – whether a geospatial consultant, GIS developer, software architect or help desk administrator – is an important element of creating a culture of openness. I want honest dialog and feedback on how to make our company better. I also conduct regular town hall meetings and webinars to try my best to establish cross-departmental knowledge share and establish a clear understanding of our metrics of success.

WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED? Humility, Integrity and Vision. I have been very lucky in my life to have worked with many impressive CEOs that have taught me through experience these leadership lessons. I have also learned from those around me about human behavior and how to motivate people to lead. I believe these values are intrinsic to the leadership and consultants at Critigen which has already allowed us to begin to lead in many verticals in our industry.

HOW DO YOUR ASSOCIATES AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS, PARTICULARLY AS IT IS RELATED TO CLIENT SERVICE? Our business is the people at Critigen. Even though we have an exceptional cloud-enabled managed services business, client services management and metrics is what drives our business everyday. In our consulting businesses, we have deep relationships with clients as we are serving their most important needs. We are helping them gain more insight out of their data through spatial enablement as well as find better ways to manage their business. All delivered with our most important asset – our people.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE CRITIGEN’S CULTURE? AS A LEADER, WHAT ROLE DO YOU PLAY, AND WHAT IS YOUR IMPACT ON THE CULTURE? I define Critigen’s culture as who we are at our core: an extremely relevant technology consulting and cloud-enabled/IT outsourcing company that leverages spatial intelligence, business solutions and award-winning managed services to drive positive financial and actionable results for every one of our clients. We are also in our youth as an independent company with our spin off only a year ago. This allows us to set a course and define who we are for our industry as well as our clients. Our culture will continue to evolve rapidly towards our vision of who we are today and who we want to be- and I help define and live this every day.

SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE HR TO BE THE ONLY DEPARTMENT WITH A RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ORGANIZATION’S PEOPLE. HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR OVERALL TALENT STRATEGY A PRIORITY, AND WHAT ROLE DO YOU PLAY IN DRIVING IT? I have seen it in the past and know we are on the precipice of what is a rapidly changing landscape as it relates to talent. Being a “new” brand makes it more difficult for us than others that have been in a known business, but we have the best talent in our areas of expertise, and continually are looking for new and innovative talent to keep our engine running hot. Based on our growth projections, we expect to have to increase our staff by 15-20% in 2011. We want the best and brightest to come to Critigen and the associates at Critigen are engaged to make that scenario a reality.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO RALLY THE TEAM AND REINFORCE YOUR EMPLOYMENT BRAND? Our employment brand is one we are needing to grow in the market and we are looking at  CareerBuilder and our leaders of the business to help us do that. We know our employment brand is very important with the talent needs we will have in the near future to help us deliver the quality of work we expect. We will continue to work on this in 2011, with the great news being we get to define ours now that we are an independent company, so we are starting from a clean slate.

CAN YOU GIVE ME ONE OR TWO EXAMPLES OF HOW ONE PERSON HAD A MAJOR IMPACT AT CRITIGEN? The examples I can give you are about people that have such wonderful talent and relationships with clients that they have created the success that Critigen now enjoys. These people have had the insight and understanding to realize that what we do changes the world when it comes to operating, creating and managing real information. Our daily goal is to help create real, insightful information out of data that enables actionable business decisions. That is what we do and it is all because of our wonderful people.

WHAT OTHER ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH YOUR EXECUTIVE PEERS THOUGH THIS PIECE? The amount of data and information that we have to run our businesses is becoming so overwhelming that finding a way to create true business insight out of data is an inevitable necessity. We believe we are at the beginning of a tremendous inflection point in all industries where visualization and insight come together in managed frameworks to help leaders understand their business better every day.

ABOUT JEFF AKERS: With more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of telecommunications, inter-networking and professional services, Jeff Akers is an industry insider. His career began in forecasting and regulatory affairs for Southwestern Bell. After 16 years at AT&T, he went to Lucent Technologies, where he rose from product manager to president of Lucent’s NetCare Professional Services business. Prior to its emergence from CH2M HILL, Mr. Akers designed and implemented the re-profiling of Enterprise Management Solutions (EMS), CH2M HILL’s information technology division. Now, as CEO of Critigen, Mr. Akers continues to lead the information technology industry through design and implementation of cloud-enabled IT solutions. His mission is to help every Critigen client create insightful information out of their data.

ABOUT CRITIGEN: Critigen is a global leader in information technology consulting and IT outsourcing. We leverage spatial intelligence, business analyses, and award-winning managed services to drive positive financial results and enterprise collaboration for public and private clients. For nearly 20 years, Critigen has helped clients harness the power of information to improve their business results and solve business challenges. We do this by delivering award-winning services and solutions through our three lines of business: Spatial Information Management, Enterprise Business Solutions and Managed Services.

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
Puzzled Critter
Puzzled Critter

Interesting article... seeing that Jeff Akers is no longer the CEO of Critigen and hasn't been since January 6th 2011.


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