Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeCIO SpotlightCIO Spotlight: Fred Brown, CTO at Virtual Procurement Services  

CIO Spotlight: Fred Brown, CTO at Virtual Procurement Services  

Fred Brown
Chief Technology Officer
Virtual Procurement Services

Walk us through your CIO path. How did you decide to pursue a career in technology, and how did you progress to your current organization?

I wrote my first program when I was 9 on a TI-99/4a and was forever bitten by the technology bug.  Life changed when I learned that you can solve so many challenges and do so many cool things with computers, so it stuck with me throughout my childhood and teenage years.  Learned every programming language that I could, built computers, hosted bulletin boards…everything a teenage geek does. 

Life changed when I learned that you can solve so many challenges and do so many cool things with computers, so it stuck with me throughout my childhood and teenage years.

When it came time for college, I pursued a technology major and maintained that fascination and love for tech, studying hard, working part-time in the college IT department, and as a student aide in the computer lab.  In my junior and senior years, I interned for a local, family-owned technology company where I primarily programmed, but they also taught me about networking, systems administration, etc.  That same company hired me after I graduated, and I then enjoyed 12 amazing years in technology consulting learning about and touching every aspect of tech.

At a new consulting company that was spun-off to focus on insurance tech, I got my first management experience and learned then that I absolutely loved the leadership side of business.  I got a chance to build my own team in this new startup, as well as well as to help define our vision, culture, and strategies as we quickly became a premier technology consulting firm in the Northeast.  While I loved what I was doing, there came a time when the travel associated with consulting just didn’t jive with having a family.

In 2006, I was recruited to join Mohegan Sun Pocono as their IT Engineering Manager to help build and operate Pennsylvania’s first casino.  That sparked an amazing career in gaming & hospitality where I led the property through its many expansions and was then promoted based on that success to Mohegan Sun CT as their CIO to help lead a cultural and digital transformation.   As Mohegan’s focus shifted towards being a corporate gaming & hospitality management company, I forged the path for our new Shared Services approach and built the corporate IT organization from the ground up, eventually becoming Mohegan’s first Global CIO and leading technology vision and efforts across all 9 of its properties internationally.

As Mohegan’s focus shifted towards being a corporate gaming & hospitality management company, I forged the path for our new Shared Services approach and built the corporate IT organization from the ground up, eventually becoming Mohegan’s first Global CIO and leading technology vision and efforts across all 9 of its properties internationally.

Last year, after 14 great years with Mohegan, I felt it was time for a new challenge and a return to my consulting roots.  I joined Virtual Procurement Services full-time as CTO where I still am today, leading our internal technology efforts as well as our Client Technology Advisory Services.  Love being a part of the growth of this amazing company and looking forward to a bright future!

Tell us about your company. Speak to the industry, size of the company, and the services provided to your customers.

Virtual Procurement Services (VPS) is transforming the way companies purchase enterprise technology continuing a legacy of success started in 2009 when we developed the first iteration of our predictive analytics tool, the VVI™.  The VVI™ utilizes public data and advanced algorithms to determine the best possible price for any technology-related product or service.  We combine this one-of-a-kind analytical insight with our proprietary processes to save and recover significant money for our clients on their tech spend.

Our process is simple: Our clients get their best and final quote on whatever technology or subscription they are looking to purchase.  We run it through the VVI™ and our processes to determine the savings.  If the client wants to pursue, we negotiate it on their behalf and are compensated in a gain-share model.  In all cases, we sustain their vendor relationships, we never alter the product set, and we ensure that the project timeline is met.

Beyond technology, we have been successful in reducing costs of FF&E and OS&E products sets as the VVI™ capability has expanded.  Additionally, VPS offers technology advisory and managed services to ensure our customers can get a 360-degee sourcing experience.

In business for over 11 years, we serve over 400 customers and have saved/recovered over $500,000,000 for our clients.  While our largest verticals are healthcare and gaming & hospitality, our services work across any industry that has leaders who value not overspending.

What are your top 3 – 5 (ongoing) main priorities as a CIO in your organization?

Internally, my top 3 priorities are:

  1. Security/compliance: I believe this will always be at the top of my list regardless of timing or organization. 
  2. Data: “In God we trust, for all else there is data”.  Like security, this is another constant in my strategy.  Digging into data and BI tools so we could better serve our clients, make smarter decisions, and become as efficient as possible.
  3. Innovation: With lofty expansion goals for 2021, we are looking at ways to further innovate so we can grow efficiently and best serve our clients.

Externally, my priority is continuing to help our Service Delivery and Advisory teams optimize our clients’ IT environments and ensure that they are making the most on every dollar that they spend on technology.  That has become so important this year as folks move forward with tech projects and digital transformations despite slashed IT budgets.

How do you decompress from your role as a technology executive?  What do you do for fun?

Over the years, I’ve learned that you have to find those activities where you truly disconnect and are only focused on what’s in front of you.  For me, that is boating and fishing, hiking, and playing guitar.  I’m also an avid video gamer, but at times my frustration with it offsets the decompression…..like when my son schools me at Call of Duty!

Can you list your top 1 – 3 books that you would recommend for a technology leader to have on their bookshelf/Kindle?

  1. Measure what Matters by John Doerr (love OKRs!)
  2. The Leadership Contract by Vince Molinaro
  3. Good to Great/Built to Last by Jim Collins

Can you share a specific quote that is a source of inspiration for you as a leader?

I am a fan of Walt Disney and his business style, so many of his quotes have found their way to the desks and walls of my offices.  However, the one that I continually come back to is this:

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Walt Disney

Please share a recommendation or testimonial on the benefit that you see as a member of this CIO Professional Network.

Regardless of industry, we as IT leaders are all facing similar challenges, looking at the same technologies, and figuring out ways to innovate – perhaps just with different industry lenses.  Yet seldom do we have the opportunity (or take the time) to talk to others in similar positions to see what they’re doing in those regards.  So, having access to a network of 2,000 IT leaders via the CIO Professional Network to collaborate on those challenges and to see what folks are thinking is truly priceless.  What makes it work is that it is powered by an intuitive platform that makes the collaboration quite simple, whether you’re communicating to the entire group, a community within the same industry/region, or 1:1 with a peer. 

When you add that collaboration ability to the other value-adds of the platform including things like the Soundview Summaries, CIO Insights, and Info-Tech Research Briefs, the CIO Professional Network is a tool that every IT leader should consider.

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