Danny Dagher, a CIO Who Thinks Like a CEO

Today’s businesses operate in a world where traditional, rigid structures are being replaced by fluid, rapidly changing models. Individuals who inspire new ways of thinking will power the businesses that succeed as they embrace this new dynamic environment.

Smart CIOs are stepping up to the challenge. They are the catalysts for change, harnessing the transformative power of technology to change the way a business operates. VMware’s Agents of Change initiative shines a spotlight on these important contributors.

Here’s the first individual in our Agents of Change series: Danny Dagher, CIO at Bank Audi.

“If a CIO does not consider himself as a change agent, then he’s in the wrong job.” This is the no-nonsense view of Danny Dagher, CIO of Bank Audi, a leading commercial bank in Lebanon and one of the fastest growing banks in the region. When Dagher joined, the bank was grappling with an expanding scope of services and customers while navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment. The IT infrastructure wasn’t aligned to the bank’s changing business needs, so Dagher was hired with the specific remit of bringing the two together. 

CIOs should think like CEOs.

Think Like a CEO

“A deciding factor in my appointment was my business acumen and leadership skills,” explained Dagher. “The bank’s senior management understood that IT expertise wasn’t enough for the job at hand.” Dagher wanted to spend as much time as possible with different parts of the bank so he could really understand what the business needed. One of his early steps was to engage VMware to help develop the IT strategy and roadmap. “CIOs should think like CEOs,” he said.  “Finding the right technology partners frees you up to focus on the bigger picture and drive the change.”

Watch the video below to hear directly from Danny Dagher what it means to be a change agent. Then read on to discover how Bank Audi has saved millions and what motivates Dagher to champion change.

Predicting the Future

Dagher believes that CIOs should be the change predictors in their organisation. “The CIO leads the team that understands emerging technology trends. The CIO should consider how these trends are impacting different industries. Then they can predict how technology is going to shape the industry their business is operating in, and how they can adapt to remain one step ahead of the competition.”

Under Dagher’s leadership, Bank Audi was early to embrace virtualization. Now it is well on the way to achieving the vision of software-defined IT, where the core elements (networking, storage, and compute) are virtualised and delivered as a service. In addition to a high degree of agility, it has resulted in CapEx savings of millions of dollars.  

Disruption Will Come

According to Dagher, much of the competition is lagging in the shift to digital. “Most of the players in our industry, in my opinion, hide behind regulatory and compliance requirements, in order to not adopt technology. But of course, that change will come. Already we are seeing new small and agile entrants whose businesses are built on the innovative use of technology.”

When asked about his motivation to keep championing change at the bank, Dagher reveals a personal drive. “Some people have the perception that business is bad, that it exists only to deliver profits to owners and shareholders. For me, this is too simplistic to be true,” he said. “So in my limited capacity as the CIO of Bank Audi, or in whatever position I may hold, I want to demonstrate that business can and should advance the wellbeing of people. This is where my energy comes from.”