In our Centered on Your Success blog series, get to know our experts and how they measure success for clients. In this installment, meet Carlos Cruz.
What’s your story?
After graduate school, I spent about seven years at Andersen Consulting (Accenture) in Chicago. It was there at the Retail Center of Excellence that I learned the magic of data.
I worked at a number of consulting start-ups after that. All money makers, some more than others. Some much more stressful than others. I then went to the world of small- to medium-sized consulting and found a home at Centric.
Why did you decide to become part of your field?
To me, data is fun. It can create lots of “wow” moments. It can illuminate issues and opportunities that can often get lost in the shuffle. It helps you understand and help people and companies.
Trusted information makes life easier. Think about it in your own life – when you want to make a significant purchase, plan a trip or choose a restaurant, having information that you can trust makes these decisions easier.
How are you guiding clients to success right now?
The field of data, information and insights — informed activity is exploding right now. Most clients have some capability, but many don’t know what to do next or where to focus their time, energy and budget. These days, how I help clients most is by helping them to see their future and helping them to create a comprehensive plan and roadmap to achieve that future.
Should we invest in machine learning, artificial intelligence, data warehousing, governance? — The short answer is yes, absolutely. But it is also important to ask why. What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)? How will those investments help them, their company, their customers? It’s not about selling them something but about partnering with my clients to figure out what they need, why they need it, when they need it and helping them get there.
What does the success of your clients mean to you?
I don’t succeed unless my clients succeed. I’m a product of an Ignatian education and a strong proponent of one of our core tenets. Men and women for others. It ingrained in me a service and servant leader mentality. This also creates the baseline for how I approach client work – don’t just do the job, create value. Help my clients be better than they were before we started working together.
What, in your opinion, do companies need the most help with right now?
Driving business value through information. Everybody says they want more data but often struggle to equate more data to things like improved performance, increased revenue or reduced risk. The business case for data seems self-evident until it comes time to make the investment.
What do you think companies should be thinking about next?
Don’t think about data! First, think about what you want to know and why. What information can help advance your company’s success? Your customers’ experiences. What do you need to know about your company, people, clients, customers and external factors that impact them? Then we can figure out how to best get that information to you when and where you need it.
What are you looking forward to in your industry?
Using data to drive more diversity, equity and inclusion. Data has the power to increase the divide between the haves and have nots. But it also has the power to help close that gap and help everyone.
What piece of career advice keeps you passionate and purposeful?
Two things stand out:
Years ago, as a new leader, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work my team and I needed to accomplish. My boss at the time impressed upon me that I needed to create leverage around me. Meaning spend as much time teaching and coaching as “doing.” It’s slower at first but faster later. My success comes from their success.
The second piece of advice I take to heart is to be kind and genuine to everyone, no matter who they are or what their title. You never know what they might be going through.
What do you do when you’re not guiding clients?
Spending time with family and friends. One of the things I love about Centric is so many of them, my coworkers, are included in that group. Spending time with my Centric family is not something I have to do but something I look forward to.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago?
Exploring all that the city and area have to offer – theater, sporting events, festivals, restaurants, museums, you name it. And I love introducing people to new things that I think they’d like.