There are regions in our world that have a dire need to bring technology to it’s people. CIOs Without Borders focuses their attention to promote the health and welfare of societies less fortunate than ours. It is a way for CIOs and other IT professionals to give back by helping those on the wrong side of the digital divide. The organization provides brief periods of intensive technology advice, along with hardware, software, and other products.
What’s your favorite part of a typical day?
From a work perspective, it is when my work, or my team’s work, has helped resolve real life social issues. There has to be purpose and meaning in the outcome.
From a personal perspective, my favorite part of the day is waking up in the morning and seeing my twin daughters.
What part of your day would you gladly give up?
It is sitting in meetings where the focus of the discussion is how to preserve things as they are, and not how to move forward and break the barriers to change.
And I would gladly give up saying goodbye to my twin girls.
Tell me about your business, charity or cause. Share your passion.
I founded an organization called CIOs Without Borders. CIOs Without Borders is a global nonprofit organization that uses technology to provide education, healthcare and infrastructure services to under served areas around the world. We bring together the IT community in a novel philanthropic effort to apply technology to solve everyday human problems.
If you could change anything you have done in your business, charity, cause, what would it be?
It would have been the timing. We formed the organization at a very difficult time for the economy, in which many nonprofits are having a very hard time raising funds.
What keeps you up at night?
What keeps me awake at night is alignment and risk. Is innovation in alignment with the human life and the environment? Do we fully understand the impact of innovation and technology and can we plan for its impact on a long-term basis? Serious risk is not like the Titanic hitting the iceberg. It is not visible. We can easily plan for visible problems, but have lesser sophistication in understanding and predicting the long-term impact of our innovations on human life and the environment.
Who gives you the best advice about your business, charity, cause?
My husband is my best adviser, even though I may ignore him the first time he tells me something that is right but difficult to do.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My family is what I am most proud of. Other than that, establishing CIOs Without Borders, and having the IT community become active in a cause that is aimed at directly improving human life.
What would you like to see happen with your business, charity, cause?
We would love to see the Rwanda initiative we are sponsoring in partnership with the Stevens Institute receive full funding. This is a critical project designed to bring basic health care to those without any care. Rwanda has over 10 million people, and only 400 doctors. Many never see the doctor and die from disease and infection that is easily treatable. Technology can play a critical role in helping save lives in Rwanda.
Share a failure and a triumphant outcome to something you have faced in your life.
I fail every day, trying to convince people of the value of those that bring no economic value to them: the people of the underdeveloped world, and the environment. I triumph every night, knowing that I have spent the day doing what I love to do.
If you were in charge of everything in the world for a day, what’s the first change you would make?
I would want a global distribution of wealth to close the gap between the poor countries and the rich providing global health care and access to education.
Atefeh Riazi’s bio
Atefeh (Atti) Riazi is a senior IT executive and a philanthropist. She has served in both the public and the private sector as a CIO, managing large scale technology projects and initiatives. She is now the Executive Director of CIOs Without Borders – a global not-for-profit organization, focused on using technology and innovation for the good of humanity.
She was recently the Senior Partner and Global Chief Information Officer of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide, a leading global Marketing and Communications agency with 497 offices in 125 countries supporting more than 2,300 clients. Atti was ranked #49 amongst the top 100 global CIOs. Under Atti’s leadership Ogilvy and Mather has earned a place on InformationWeek’s 500 list of innovative IT organizations.
Atti has a graduate degree in electrical engineering. Most recently, she was Vice President and CIO of Technology for MTA New York City Transit responsible for implementing the $1.5B MetroCard in New York City.