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Spring 2021 Advisory

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Roque Martinez: Learning to Talk Tech in the Language of P&L

Having worked for a number of years as a technologist on Wall Street, Roque Martinez, ‘20SPS, felt he “was missing something as a senior leader.” He found it in Columbia’s Executive Master of Science in Technology Management program, where he quickly learned a crucial lesson: “They tell you, ‘What got you into the C-suite is not what’s going to keep you there.’”

Now the Chief Technology Officer for SmartStream Reference Data Utility, a mid-sized software company, Martinez emphasized that much of one's role as a technologist involves effective communication. 

“Technology Management sets you up to realize that your expertise, in whatever technology field you’re in, does not translate to a CEO or CFO or even a CMO,” he explained. “They don’t care about the bits and the bytes. They care about: ‘How much revenue am I going to make, and is my next product going make me more revenue?’ The Technology Management program gives you the tools to speak their language.”

Thanks to the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Cowan and the lessons he drew from Dr. Arthur M. Langer's Technology in a Business Environment and Prof. Lyle Yorks’s Strategic Advocacy courses, Martinez gained the necessary fluency to communicate the business case for incurring short-term losses in order to make technology investments that pay off in the long term.

“You don’t only make technology decisions based on return-on-investment,” he said. “There are other factors that you need to understand, and I was able to bring that immediately back to machine learning and how it’s affecting the current business that I’m in. There is an investment that you have to make, and you may not necessarily make that money back for 2, 3, 4 years. But if you don’t make the investment, you’re going out of business.”

Watch Roque’s full interview below and learn more about the Executive Master of Science in Technology Management program.