Technology Synergies Propelling Industry-level Transformation
Paul Bellack is the VP of Global IT and Digital Transformation at Magna International, a $32B Global Automotive Parts Manufacturer. With more than half a decade of experience at the company, Bellack is currently responsible for the entire Magna Corporate IT Group. He leads a global team of approximately 500 IT professionals mandatedto design and implement business relationship management, information security risk control, enterprise architecture, strategic planning, and solution delivery. He has played a vital role in designing and implementing a multi-year transformation of Magna’s core, global IT capabilities while accelerating digital transformation initiatives. The transformation that his Team delivered has proved to be secure, cost-effective, and scalable for the company and opened options for enabling improvements in Business processes and capabilities.
We are really honored to recognize Bellack as “Top 10 Canadian CIOs.” Following is the interview that we had with him.
In light of your experience, what are some of the challenges that the pandemic introduced?
With the advent of the COVID-19, several new car manufacturers (ie. our Customers) had to shut down their facilities, which in turn impacted our operations. However, thatshutdown wasnot prolonged, and operations soon resumed. Our Business was able to weather the storm.
The pandemic brought forth a new normal. Remote working was mandated for all organizations, and companies with unmodernizedIT infrastructure for enabling work from home experienceda significant hurdle. At Magna International, by virtue of our IT transformation, we were able to scale up our collaboration and communications tooling relatively quickly and uneventfully by utilizing tools like Microsoft Teams.
How your leadership at Magna International steers the company forward?
I joined the company in 2015 to lead and mobilize its IT transformation initiative to deliver IT security, scale, and synergy without compromising the Business’ operating model. It took us almost three years to drive the desired IT transformation. In addition, My Team and I, built a comprehensivecyber security program. Next, we shifted focus toward “back-office”Business processes, such as Finance, HR, and Procurement. Traditionally, those processestended to beinefficient and fragmented. But we instituteda “common process/common data”approach and have initiatives in place to make them more seamless and effective without affecting the core operating model. Today, my Team and I continue to liaison with the Business to create the right common process/common data strategies for the organization and help materialize them.
As a strategic leader, my primary objective is to understand all the complexities that the company is facing and design the proper IT roadmap in line with its vision. Also, ourteam-building approach has helped to collaborate with various departments within the company and work as an agent of change towards transformation.
"In our world, everything is digital, and everything is transformational. So, the phrase, digital transformation is very context-dependent"
How do you approach the concept of digital transformation?
In our world, everything is digital, and everything is transformational. So, the phrase, digital transformation is very context-dependent. For our organization, one aspect of digital transformation is bringing digital technologies to the factory floor using AI, data analytics, and robotics to improve effectiveness and align with the Industry4.0 movement. A digital strategy also needs to include adata strategy—the ability to access and extract value from key data assets. Without that data piece in place, neither a digital enterprise nor a digital factory can function effectively.
What advice would you give to peers to help them thrive?
An IT Leadermust be a jack-of-all-trades these days to “connect all the dots”. They obviously must have a sound knowledge of digital technologies for data, ITinfrastructure, cloud computing, the internet, security, etc. But they need to understand their organizations’ core capabilitiesand business vision.Another prime requirement is to be a visionary. The leader must visualize the possible advancements and disruptions in both the market and the technology space so they can strategize accordingly to ensurethat their initiatives align with the future.