May 19, 2020

Why getting systems right can make a business a S&P 500 company

business development
business growth
S&P 500
Brittany Hill
4 min
Why getting systems right can make a business a S&P 500 company

Adam Shapiro, CEO, AutoCollect discusses why getting systems right can make a business a S&P 500 company.

Anyone who’s ever been involved in a startup knows that things can be pretty chaotic. Late nights, big personalities, and occasional technology meltdowns are so common that it’s easy to imagine that’s just the way things are meant to be. 

After all, today’s big tech giants all went through the same thing. Apple, Google, Facebook, all of them went through periods where they were flying by the seat of their pants. Apple, being the prototype for most contemporary startups, provides perhaps the best example. Working out of his father’s garage, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak spent hours building every single Apple I by hand to deliver the first 50 units to the hobby enthusiasts who’d ordered it. 

But to move from a backyard startup to a global player, each of these tech giants had to get serious about putting systems in place. 

And, if you want to take your business from SME to S&P 500 competitor, you should follow suit. 

The Adult in the Room 

For many startups, getting the right systems in place has meant hiring someone to be the “adult in the room”. 

Perhaps the most notable example of this is Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin hiring Eric Schmidt in 2001. A Silicon Valley veteran, Schmidt knew what it took to grow a company and make it profitable. 

Without him, Page and Brin’s brilliant product may well have been consigned to the annals of history rather than an integral part of our everyday lives. 

Over time, your company may find itself in a situation where it needs a similar kind of adult in the room. You may, for instance, find that you have lots of disconnected, disparate systems in place, often making it very inefficient to complete business functions or difficult for employees to get things done.

You may also find that company processes span multiple systems and keeping the systems in sync is often a challenge, resulting in duplicated efforts and mismatched data. 

Equally, if you find that employees involved in the same process are quite often in different departments and not in direct contact with each other, causing miscommunication, unnecessary delays, and poor business performance, it’s time to take action. 


The adult (or adults) in the room has to be someone willing to take control of this chaos and put proper systems in place. 

If you’re the business owner and you’re not in a position to hire someone else, that person may well have to be you. 

Putting systems in place 

Even if that doesn’t come naturally, there are a few basic actions you can take to get started:

  • Get together the process owners or process experts in your business - anyone on your team who can input on the way a system is working (or not working)

  • Map out the high-level steps involved in each routine you do

  • Identify which software or manual efforts are used to do the routines

  • Identify what gets done or captured at different points and in different processes

  • Look for crossover – is the same thing being done in different places?

  • Identify inconsistent approaches - is the same thing being done in different ways?

  • Start realizing which methods can be standardized, what data should be shared between processes, or what efforts can be removed entirely.

Put these steps in place and you’ll find that your business will run more efficiently and your staff will be more productive and in-sync. 

Poised for growth 

With the right systems in place, not only will less time be wasted on unnecessary efforts, everyone in the business will have more time to focus on the steps needed to ensure growth. 

Thankfully, an array of affordable technologies make implementing these systems simpler than ever. As a result, SMEs are able to compete on a more even footing with even the biggest companies. And, because they’re generally leaner, the best run ones can overtake legacy players and do so quickly. 

For more information on business topics in the United States, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief USA.

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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