An Interview with Tricia Ferreira, VP, Technology Product Management at World Fuel Services – on asking the right questions, leveraging expert resources, and inspiring innovation.
Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Tricia moved to the United States and studied Computer Science at FIU. She moved to Atlanta and held prominent leadership positions in Technology at GE. About five years ago she moved back to Miami and assumed a Business Information Officer role at World Fuel Services, which further enhanced her skills in both Business and IT.
Today Tricia acts as the Chief Technology Product Officer for both the Aviation & Marine divisions, leads the corresponding Master Data Management organization, and drives other key strategic initiatives.
What are some of the challenges you’re dealing with today?
Lingering challenges are around performance and scalability, has to do with older infrastructure and/or solutions requiring rearchitecture. We’ve made really good strides on that in the past year. One of our strategic goals is cloud migration, and consequently we’ve already seen our customer experience improve.Another challenge we face is connecting systems and having APIs in place that we can leverage across the platform, point-to-point integrations are a thing of the past. Quite a bit of business challenges as well as well as architecting new products. Performance, scalability, and integration – AI, Data Analytics, Robotics Process Automation – because our business has high transactions, automation effort goes a long way. Focus more on OCR for documents to improve speed and accuracy.
Have you developed any habits, routines, or processes that have helped you solve problems as a leader in technology?
There’s certainly aspects of my approach that are repeatable and basic, really understanding the problem that you are trying to solve, taking time to discover the problem, needs, once you get past that step, land with not just one solution, prepare multiple solutions. Sometimes teams will go after the most complex solutions, but sometimes the easier way to solve is better and more efficient. Look at the problem from different lenses. A big part of our success has been the relationships with stakeholders and customers, we have the trust to get the complete information to keep them engaged throughout the process. I ask the same question three different ways, sometimes you get three different answers, take the time. I’m a big believer in ongoing testing. Which is why I have been supportive of the agile transformation vs waterfall. Building in chunks, testing in chunks, has helped make our delivery successful. When it comes to off the shelf technology and 3rd party solutions, leverage the consulting that comes along with that software.
What is your approach to learning and vetting new technology?
A lot of it is networking, not just internally, but also externally, folks that I’ve built connections with over the past 20 years. Some of it is reading up on my own, there is so much information. I like to see what some of the bigger consulting firms and agencies have come up with on their interpretation of disruptive tech and trends, some of it is actually software ads being pushed to me. It’s great being part of large organizations like GE and World Fuel Services, it’s still diverse enough – I may go to my counterpart in another department or division and ask about a problem or tech and see if we can leverage it on our side. Another way is to empower the team to be responsible for innovation. I’ll tell my teams, “You have the keys to the castle, what’s next? What are some things we should be looking at? How should we enhance existing solutions?” We try to drive innovation organically within the team.
Have you found any particular resource useful time and time again?
Gartner has been a reliable resource to me over the years. I do have many email subscriptions that I scan at a high level, and if something relevant catches my eye I will dive deeper.
Any last words you’d like to share…
One thing that I always push the team to do is to really think about how to work differently and how to work more efficiently – tech is a big enabler of that type of transformation. Most people are just putting their heads down and working hard to getting things done, but it takes a different focus with the right skill sets and minds to promote innovation.