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To stay abreast of the tech curve, Ballantyne Magazine recently hosted a panel discussion with three local leading lights in information technology (IT). Panel moderator Ted Mueller, CIO of Northwood Office, invited Hughes, Rishi Bhatnagar, CEO of Syntelli Solutions, also headquartered in Ballantyne, and Dr. Valerie Truesdale, chief technology officer (CTO) for Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), to share their insights. They addressed today's IT career trajectory and what the latest generation of technological advances bodes for us professionally and personally. Their responses below have been edited for clarity. You may listen to the entire discussion at Circuitous Routes Asked by Mueller to describe their career paths, all three panelists said they evolved into IT rather than being hatched as coders. "I went through a discovery process," Bhatnagar says. After obtaining his electrical engineering degree, he changed course to get an MBA in marketing. But then he switched to finance and became a risk analyst, working as a consultant. "I learned then that IT was key to everything, so a little IT understanding led me into this role," he says. "I've never done any coding, but I understand why that code is necessary and what it should do. I am an accidental technologist, and I enjoy the business side of IT." The IT route for Hughes was also circuitous. "My education was spent in nuclear reactor physics, but while finishing my doctoral thesis, a friend suggested I consider a consulting firm focused on tech strategy," he recalls. That led to working for investment banks in New York City, followed by a position as IT leader for a corporate client. "A year ago, I moved here to lead the IT program at Brighthouse Financial," he says. Serendipity played a similar role for Truesdale. "As a high school principal I saw the incredible power of technology in engaging students in learning," she says. After a stint at the S.C. Department of Education, where she oversaw tech programs, she joined CMS to help students move into a 21st century learning environment. "I've experienced the transition from personal computing into mobile computing, so it's been a fun time seeing these tools open (up) learning for kids," she says. To stay abreast of the tech curve, Ballantyne Magazine recently hosted a panel discussion with three local leading lights in information technology. Jeff Hughes, CIO, Brighthouse Financial Dr. Valerie Truesdale, CTO, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Rishi Bhatnagar, CEO, Syntelli Solutions Ted Mueller, CIO, Northwood Office Listen to the Tech Talk Podcast BALLANTYNE SPRING 2018 74 Feature

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