IT Leader Spotlight: Barry Steinberg, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP
The High Availability, Inc. team has worked with a lot of incredibly talented IT professionals over the last 19 (almost 20!) years. To celebrate our customers and their achievements, we will be highlighting a CIO from our network each quarter!
For our second IT Leader Spotlight, we had the opportunity to sit down with Barry Steinberg, IT Director at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP
Q: Where did you go to school? And, what did you study?
BS: I attended North Texas State University and UT Arlington, earning a B.B.A. in Management, followed by an M.B.A. in Information Systems at Pace University in New York.
Q: Did you always want to work in IT? What sparked your interest?
BS: My father was a Data Processing Manager in the toy, plastics, and consumer goods industries. Sometimes as a (very!) young kid, I would go to work with him and was fascinated by all the various computing equipment; back then, we’re talking about keypunch machines, tabulators, collators, sorters. Program logic was handled by a wiring “plug board” and database information such as product inventory, sales transactions, etc. was stored in trays of punched cards. The early IBM mainframe computers eventually replaced these machines tape drives. Anyways, I was hooked.
Q: Tell us about your career path…
BS: I was hired by Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems (EDS) after college and worked as a programmer analyst writing COBOL and OS/JCL on IBM mainframes. I also worked in the marketing support group, which was responsible for responding to federal, state and local government services contract RFPs. I then spent a few years at American Broadcasting Companies as a business systems analyst before becoming the IT Director at a Wall Street law firm. During my time there we implemented an early document management system on Wang computers and networked PCs; that stint also included my first large office move. My next position was at a firm in northern NJ, where my team was responsible for all network operations, business and productivity applications, user training and support. After 9/11, I took some time to complete my MCDBA and PMP certifications before arriving at my current firm in 2003.
Q: Tell us about your organization…
BS: One of Delaware’s largest law firms, Young Conaway counsels and represents international, national and local clients, handling sophisticated advisory and litigation matters involving bankruptcy, corporate law, and intellectual property. The firm also guides regional businesses and individuals through a myriad of employment, personal injury, real estate, tax, estate planning, environmental, and banking issues. I report to the COO and lead a 10+ person team responsible for 24x7x365 network operations, data security, application software, e-discovery, A/V, and client services technical support.
Q: What technology or business initiatives will be most important in driving your IT objectives for the next year?
BS: Over the last few years, our efforts have focused on implementing and supporting upgrades of many of the firm’s business and desktop productivity systems. At the same time, we also upgraded most of our Data Center and network infrastructure and strengthened our data security posture. This year, our priorities include expanding our mobile device application portfolio and continuing our information governance and security awareness initiatives.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you? How do you keep yourself productive?
BS: I spend time each day addressing issues of immediate concern to senior firm management, IT team members, and our attorney and administrative user community. Most days also feature a mix of projects, operations, and user support meetings. A typical day might also include discussions with outside vendors or with internal customers reviewing resource requirements, schedule constraints, etc. I routinely move between strategic, tactical, and operational roles as the work requires Whenever possible, I try to communicate, coordinate and/or delegate and then get out of the way and let people do their jobs.
Q: What roles or skills are you having difficulty filling – if any?
BS: The firm is fortunate to have a mature team of outstanding technology professionals, so filling open positions has not been much of an issue over the past few years. When in need of specific technology project skills, we reach out to trusted partners such as High Availability, Inc.
Q: What advice would you give aspiring CIOs?
BS: Spend time learning the business, the industry, and building relationships. Sharpen your writing and listening skills and seek out speaking engagements. Look for opportunities to provide guidance and give credit to others. Share your strengths and allow others to share theirs with you. Tackle failure with a commitment to future success. Under-promise and over-deliver. All very cliché, but true.
Q: What is your proudest professional accomplishment so far?
BS: I currently work with the best technology team that I have been associated with, meeting the ever-demanding service needs of a premier law firm while helping each of these IT team members achieve their individual professional goals.
Q: What has been the most meaningful aspect of your engagement with High Availability, Inc.?
BS: Starting with their role in standing up and hosting the firm’s disaster recovery solution, our engagement with H.A. has grown significantly over time. As new technology needs have arisen, H.A.’s engineering services, sales, and support teams have contributed significant project expertise and guidance in achieving successful outcomes for the firm. An outstanding technology partner!