Dave Hoag got an early start on his tech career at age 11. That’s when his uncle introduced him to an Apple IIc, and he was instantly hooked. He discovered that he could write code and make images dance on a screen. And he never looked back.
Hoag has spent the majority of his career in financial technology, directly involved in the transformation of the derivatives market infrastructure. He is currently chief information officer at Chicago-based OCC (Options Clearing Corporation). Hoag was a winner of the 2019 CIO of Year ORBIE Award.
As vice chair of ChicagoCIO and incoming chair of the organization, Hoag recently talked with Crain’s about his plans for the growth of the peer-based organization and his leadership style. Here is a recap of the conversation.
Q: What are you working on at OCC?
Hoag: As options trading volume exploded during the pandemic, I’ve been involved with modernizing OCC’s clearing and risk system to provide greater resiliency, capacity and security for the industry. Our large transformation project is called the Renaissance Initiative, and pending regulatory approval we plan to adopt a new purpose-built cloud system to better serve our stakeholders and the users of the U.S. equity options and futures markets.
Q: How has the role of CIO evolved over the years?
Hoag: While technology is at the core of the role, CIOs are now involved in the overall strategy of a company. We’re not just setting up a help desk. Technology is a critical part of every business at all levels. CIOs enable companies to grow and contribute to business outcomes by leading on execution and strategy.
Q: What is your leadership style?
Hoag: I’m a very hands-off leader. I try to empower my direct reports to set goals and outcomes and trust they will deliver. I like to talk to the staff at all levels to understand what they’re seeing and the problems they’re encountering. By engaging and seeking out information, I have a more holistic picture of where I might contribute and help my direct reports achieve their goals.
Q: What’s your advice to CIOs?
Hoag: It’s important to network within your peer community and in your organization. You don’t just run an IT team. As a CIO, you have to operate and execute as a business leader. There’s no problem that’s not yours because it’s a problem with the business.
Q: How long have you been involved with the ChicagoCIO network?
Hoag: I got involved in 2018. ChicagoCIO is really a community driven by and for the CIO in Chicagoland area. The organization also connects members to other chapters and national events.
Q: As vice chair, how have you grown the peer network?
Hoag: I’ve worked together with our current board chair Lisa Dykstra to create value for members. If we focus on creating value, we will gain participants. My main contribution is to make sure our programs are a good use of our time. CIOs are very busy.
Q: For example?
Hoag: ChicagoCIO recently facilitated a virtual discussion where we broke into small groups to discuss a project or problem, such as how we’re handling remote work and what it means for talent recruitment and retention. We’re able to share ideas and find out what other companies are doing. We all end up in a better place because of those interactions. It’s really purposeful.
Q: Why is the ChicagoCIO peer network important to the industry, and important to Chicago?
Hoag: Technology is a key growth driver in many cities and Chicago over the last decade has done a good job at developing the technology industry. For the health of Chicago, we need well run IT organizations. We need to apply technology to create value for our business and customers and not just as a cost center necessary to run a business at scale. Instead, technology actually allows companies to create value for their customers. The long-term health of Chicago depends on a vibrant technology community and organizations like ChicagoCIO.
Q: As the incoming ChicagoCIO chair, what are your plans for the organization?
Hoag: We need to lean into our strengths. We do a decent job of bringing CIOs together. We need to do more problem solving and help facilitate people to develop a personal board of directors, peers they can call and talk to on an informal basis. We’ll do more to foster peer collaboration. We’ll have more in-person events, such as behind-the-scenes tours of technology operations. But we’ll also continue our virtual events. A mix of event formats allows the members to come together where and when they have availability.
Q: What else would you like to add?
Hoag: ChicagoCIO is hosting the ORBIE Awards program in person on May 13 at the Marriott Marquis Chicago. We’re excited about that.
We’re recruiting new members. We ask our members to invite other CIOs to check out ChicagoCIO. When CIOs come to one of our events and meet our members, we have a good conversion rate because they see the value in what we do.