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CIO Spotlight: Michael Conway, Chief Technology Officer of Bidtellect

TNCR Staff
Michael Conway
Chief Technology Officer

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?

My path into technology started out like many others with a natural curiosity as to how things really work. I spent many days taking apart radios, stereo systems, and other electronics, rebuilding them with different parts to improve how they worked. From deconstruction to construction, I then migrated to a personal computer in the early 1980s, complete with a boot disk and all, where I began programming in BASIC and caught the development bug. Although I began my university studies along the lines of my initial curiosities studying Computer Engineering, I happily transitioned into software engineering and received my Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science. 

My eclectic career path led me through numerous nascent industries, including space exploration, biotechnology, electronic tolling, and advertising technology. Although different in focus, they all maintained a common thread of implementing high transactional systems, including large data processing and analytics functionality. 

Starting as a FORTRAN 77 programmer for NASA, my world was exposed to pushing the boundaries of high transactional systems and data throughput. I found that passion, and it has driven me to solve many problems and build systems with the same focus in mind, how to make large transactional data actionable. 

My experiences through space exploration at NASA, Biotechnology at Celera Genomics, where we successfully mapped the human genome within 3 years well ahead of the Public Genome Project, transportation systems at ACS/Xerox building the in road infrastructure and back-office services for electronic tolling and red light camera systems around the world, and finally Advertising Technology at Bidtellect where we process over 500k queries per second (QPS), have continued to intrigue me and feed my passion. 

Once I retired from coaching high school football, I decided to return to school to obtain a Masters of Business Administration with a focus on Technology Management. This avenue provided me with a wider view of the business world and broadened my understanding of why certain decisions are made. I feel that this has made me a more effective leader in the CIO/CTO role that I enjoy today.

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

As part of the advertising technology ecosystem, Bidtellect was created in 2014 to facilitate efficiency in native ad buying, selling, and delivery across the open web. We are a demand-side player in the digital industry, taking an increasing amount of the $138B a year digital advertising market.

We have created one of the most performant platforms that deliver ads that work. We’ve built a digital buying platform for a consumer-led, privacy-first advertising future. Through our intelligent distribution platform, we deliver digital ads that act as content previews across all devices and IAB-approved native formats and video. When a consumer engages with a brand’s content, they engage with the brand, so we utilize our proprietary IntellibidTM technology to power and uniquely measure that engagement.  Our context-driven optimization capabilities, post-click engagement measurement, creative services, and unparalleled scale in consumer-friendly ad environments have all been developed to drive performance for advertisers without relying on traditional cookie-based advertising approaches. The result is consistent outperformance versus traditional advertising platforms. 

What are your top 3-6 (ongoing) main priorities as CIO in your organization?

Infrastructure Expansion: Architecture and infrastructure improvements to support ongoing revenue growth continue to be a focus.

Data Analytics and Monetization: Continued implementation of our data analytics through machine learning and product development.

Usability Improvements: Product focus on platform usability improvements for our customers to drive higher self-service adoption.

Data Security and Privacy Compliance: Data is the bread and butter of our offering, and continuing changes to privacy regulations keep compliance on the forefront of my priority list.

Increase Operational Efficiency: With a lean organization, continuous efforts to improve productivity and efficiency across the organization.

Cost Management: No matter the effort, I must always be pragmatic about spend.

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

For many years, my stress relief came from coaching high school football. Although my passion for the game is still there, my time has been redirected towards spending downtime with my family and children that still live at home. Having 13 and 9-year-old daughters at home that play the violin, lacrosse and dance allows me to enjoy the downtime by watching them really enjoy the passions of their own.

Can you list your top 1-4 books that you would recommend for a technology leader to have on their bookshelf/Kindle?

  1. The Strategic CIO by Phil Weinzimer
  2. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  3. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  4. The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

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

Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.”

Chris Hadfield, Astronaut and Former Commander of the International Space Station

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

One of the many things that I have learned over my lifetime experiences, whether it be from going to a military college, coaching a football team, or running an organization, is that you can not do things alone. It is important to rely on other coaches and mentors and their sharing of their own experiences. True growth comes from these relationships.

When working through ideas and possible problem solutions, it is extremely valuable to have an organization like the CIO Professional Network that provides a top-notch forum with seasoned technology executives that can serve as coaches within the forum. It has been beneficial to my personal growth as an individual and to my organization to be able to reach out to these technology professionals and validate my thoughts or to correct my direction as a result of their past experiences.

The CIO Professional Network provides opportunities to learn about industry trends and up-to-date research briefs that allow me to feel confident in my current strategic directions and decision-making. The organization has been invaluable to me in the short time that I have been an active member.

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