IT Leadership Series | Sanlam Indie CIO Giulio di Giannatale

When he first entered the IT industry, Sanlam Indie CIO Giulio di Giannatale believed that obtaining an MCSE certification would bring him untold riches and allow him to travel the world.

He soon realised that in the 2000s, the industry was a rough diamond and the few IT pros were working insane hours to keep the lights on.

“I love the challenge of solving problems outside of my comfort zone and was given to the opportunity to move around within the largest media company in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

“I have had the good fortune of being taught and mentored by great individuals across many industries. As a result, I have developed a deep understanding of how to apply technology to improve business outcomes.”

Di Giannatale is now in “modernising one of the oldest industries in the world, namely insurance”. TechCentral asked him a few questions as part of its IT Leadership Series.

What does your company do?

Sanlam Indie is a digital-first insurer that leverages technology to simplify, enhance and incentivise life insurance. Our aim is to offer financial products to clients that have been traditionally underserved and to reach those clients on their own terms.

What do you see as the IT leader’s top priorities in 2023?

Embracing the ongoing industrial revolution of artificial intelligence should be the highest priority. Those who do so will have a chance for a great future, while those who don’t may be left behind and struggle to keep AI hackers at bay.

Another essential priority is to increase the speed of execution. The pace of innovation is accelerating rapidly, and it is a challenge to remain agile enough to leverage this innovation while maintaining security and compliance.

If you don’t take the market, someone else will.

Who do you most admire in business and why?

Two polar opposites come to mind: Warren Buffet for his ability to invest in people who he believes will make a business successful in the long term, and Elon Musk for his passion for his own ideas, even when they seem a little crazy, which still end up becoming successful businesses.

How do you attract and retain talent?

Your staff members are the face of your company and an advert for your culture. Be authentic and invest time and effort in the people you enjoy spending time with, with the goal of helping them succeed in their careers, not just in their current role. The more effort you put in, the greater the reward.

If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Take more chances sooner. I only regret the chances I didn’t take, not the ones that failed.

What’s your favourite productivity hack?

Headphones on, head down and tackle the job you hate most first. The rest is downhill from there.

What occupation (other than your own) would you like to try?

Robotics and AI in the agriculture sector. I’m a farmer at heart.

Where do you see the technology industry heading in the next three to five years?

I think we will spend more time on ideation and allow AI to execute more with fewer good employees. Hopefully this gives us the space and runway to train the next round of good employees to solve the tech talent scarcity.

We severely lack the freedom to think. I am hoping our direction takes us back to the days when we could spend time thinking instead of just doing 24/7.

What is one book you’d recommend to our audience and why?

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win, by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford, remains my favourite. DevOps is a methodology that all business need to understand and leverage.  – © 2023 NewsCentral Media

Get TechCentral’s daily newsletter