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Meet the Agents of Transformation - World Bank Group

Michael Makar, Senior IT Manager, World Bank Group

Michael is the Senior IT Manager for Enterprise Monitoring and Performance Testing at World Bank Group. His team is responsible for deploying 24×7 proactive monitoring and alerting solutions to critical World Bank applications, platforms and infrastructure spanning multiple datacenters and serving clients in 180+ countries. Michael has more than 15 years of experience as an engineer and entrepreneur.

What does it mean to you to be an Agent of Transformation?

There can be so much status quo and resistance to change in enterprise—probably now more than ever. To me, an Agent of Transformation is someone looking to drive transformation in their organization to help it succeed. Someone with the ambition and willpower, and someone who is doing it for all the right reasons. You need to have a vision of where you want to go and the ability to rally people to get behind you.


What do you think is most exciting about being an Agent of Transformation and a technologist at this time?

Being at the cutting edge of technology is something that has always been very important to me in the way that I’ve steered my career. You have to have a competitive advantage today—and to bring the best technology, do the right things, and then really push the technology beyond its capacity. It’s the only way to do business, otherwise you just get left behind. Nowadays, the people who make those decisions will be the ones that succeed.


Can you think of any major challenges or barriers that you've had to overcome either on an individual level or an organization level in order to become an Agent of Transformation?

I think that the major challenges for me have been people-related or political things inside organizations. Even when you have management backing and are doing the right thing, you still find people that don’t want you to succeed. The challenge is then getting those people to understand the value and why they should buy into it.


What do you see as being the single hardest step that technologists need to take in order to become an Agent of Transformation?

You have to take risks. You never really know 100% how things are gonna go, but the only real risk is not taking one. People have to do what they believe in and bring in the technology they believe will have the biggest impact on the organization. Many people are scared of taking a risk because they don’t want to look bad in front of management. Overcoming this and being able to get management buy-in takes a lot of courage and conviction.


What are the skills or character attributes that technologists should be focusing on in order to become an Agent of Transformation and drive successful innovation projects?

Having a vision of where they want to go and the leadership ability to get people behind them. It’s one part to be able to execute, but it’s certainly another part to be able to sell it internally to a variety of different stakeholders in the organization. I think one thing that has really benefited me in my career has been public speaking. I have focussed on developing this skill from a young age. I believe that being able to communicate and articulate in front of people is a very important skill to have. It helps people trust you and when people believe in you, you can empower them to get excited to work on these transformational projects.


What are the organizational qualities such as culture, leadership, training, etc. that are essential to enabling and supporting agents of transformation?

Without a doubt, leadership is number one. There’s no way that an innovation project can succeed without executive support. You have to have the leadership that sees what you’re trying to do, believes in the vision and will sponsor it. Making investments and bringing in technology is one part of innovation— the right amount of training and development is just as important. Without the stakeholders being able to effectively use the technologies and see the value themselves, you’re leaving a lot on the table.


What advice would you give to other technologists who are looking to progress in their careers to work on more exciting, innovation-focused projects, and to become an agent of transformation?

My first piece of advice is to find the company and managers that are the right fit, so that you can actually work on the cutting-edge technologies and do big things. I think that a lot of people have trouble selling what they want to do to their managers, so look for an innovative culture to work in.

The second piece is to never give up. Even when you get knocked down, you just have to persevere, learn, and keep trying. Even if you get frustrated, stay persistent. It will be worth it.


How would you describe the role that AppDynamics is playing within your transformation strategy?

It’s critical. Real time monitoring and analytics is more important than ever. There are more applications, and those applications are becoming even more complex. Being able to get visibility and derive insights from the data that we’re collecting, to monitor how well applications are performing, and how to improve that performance is worth so much to the organization.

AppDynamics is a key piece of our digital transformation—it’s mandated to be on every single new application and all of our existing applications. It’s providing the data that a variety of different business users need to see what’s actually happening with the user experience, what’s working and what’s not. We couldn’t do it without AppDynamics.


How important is it to you to leave a lasting legacy through your work as a technologist and in driving positive change within your organization and beyond?

I get up every day wanting to make a positive difference. Otherwise I wouldn’t get up and go to work. There has to be a greater goal in mind. There has to be a reason that we’re tackling the problems that we are, so that we can make positive change and we can help people along the way. That’s really my main goal: helping people in the long term. For me legacy is very, very important.


"Never give up. Even when you get knocked down, you just have to persevere, learn, and keep trying. Even if you get frustrated, stay persistent. It will be worth it."

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