Meet the Tech Exec: Joe Beery, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific

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Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Thermo Fisher Scientific

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Joe Beery was named Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2014, following the company’s acquisition of Life Technologies. During his tenure as leader of Thermo Fisher’s global Information Technology infrastructure, Joe has been instrumental in cultivating unified, “One Team” culture, emphasizing and improving operational reliability, and focusing on innovative strategies, such as the implementation of eCommerce and Cloud solutions, to best serve the business and its customers
Joe served as the Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Life Technologies since taking the position at Invitrogen in 2008. In this role, he directed the development and operation of the company’s information technology systems and eCommerce website. He also spearheaded the implementation of IT programs to support the merger of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems in 2008.
Prior to Invitrogen, Joe was Chief Information Officer at US Airways and America West Airlines for 10 years. Previously, he spent 10 years at Motorola Semiconductor, holding various positions in the computer integrated manufacturing group, and also served as a manufacturing and software engineer at NV Philips in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and business computer systems from the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the Board of Rare Genomics a nonprofit supporting the use of Genomics in diagnosing rare disease and previously on the Board of CypherGenomics, a software and services in Next Generation sequencing.


What is your focus this year?

You have to go into a deeper IT perspective, we do a lot of software development and cloud for all of our integral platforms. One of our biggest priorities is IT transformation within the organization and with our customers. We are moving to a digital science company.
We have a very large portfolio of major manufacturing, it’s a very product focused company. Our biggest priority, when we think of our customers and the future, is the integration of our platforms. They are searching for an answer, and the answer is a digital answer.
We have the largest life sciences cloud in the industry, with over 50K users, launched about a 1.5 years ago. First priority is the integration of our business with our IT capabilities. Scientists store data in the cloud, our global platform, attaching that is a science capability.  We’re connecting the entire workflow with consumables and analytics. The cloud to our customers is incredibly important. With customer and data analytics, we have the ability to see not only what a customer spends but what kind of experiments they are doing.
The IT organization is in the middle of every one of the company’s long-termsteps, whether it’s our sales process, it’s all connected. We are merging technologies, with over 150K users, providing our customers with better services. The first priority is driving the company to a digital business. It’s huge. It’s really something that we’re moving through as quickly as possible.

Where does the Cloud fit in your organization?

We are one of the largest life sciences customers of AWS. We are moving away to not do cloud on premise. It’s all done with major partners. Around our strategy, with over 2K IT people globally we decided to invest. We are actively moving our E commerce capabilities and internal systems to the cloud- to AWS. For a company of our size, we surprisingly have a small data center footprint. Our large portfolio is not completely in the cloud. We have a Cloud First Strategy. I don’t sign a purchase agreement for any hardware equipment on premise. We classify our 3 part strategy as Born in the Cloud, Transitioning to the Cloud and then Cloud as an Infrastructure.  Can a provider, be our long term future? We believe so.  We are going through HIPPA and all the security steps. To really get the value out of the cloud you have to use somebody else who does it really well. Amazon can hire more people in their security group than I can hire in my IT organization in a single year.

How do you view security from an identity management perspective? 

We continue to look at that over and over, we are thoughtful about our customers. Thermo Fisher Scientific is now a conglomeration of thousands of acquisitions. Everything is driven through, we have one identity management strategy through that platform that is secure.  Internally we are using an Oracle platform.  It’s a journey and there has to be patience, you do the best job working with your security partners. I just hired a new CSO.  I’m running as fast as I can to pull those platforms together. It’s a constant journey. When people are logging in to use systems, there are different passwords, yeah, it’s just where we are.

As a CIO, as you look at the transition of your background. What have you had to tweak in your thought  process? Things like becoming more fiscally responsible since you are more OpX spend, things like that? Have you felt you have to take on a different leadership style because of cloud? 

Yeah, I’ve only really been in 3 industries. As a CIO of my tenure, it’s interesting, I haven’t jumped around a lot. Semiconductors, airlines and now life sciences. Using emerging technologies and advanced technologies that we have available to us today, the biggest challenge is retooling the leadership to think in one particular way. It’s two things but the first is you have to move absolutely as fast as possible. You have to move your investment profile from infrastructure to value added activities. You have to move from legacy datacenter, heavy metal capability, to what are the things that are going to move the needle for the business. None of our budgets get that much bigger, they grow through inheriting companies or a big initiative. The biggest challenge is hiring leadership, that all the things we used to do 5-10 years ago have to substantially change in order to reinvest. In the future people will hire drastically different and make the transformation in thinking because maybe you could ride that on premise horse for a little longer, but if you don’t get off,  you’re really going to lose the battle.  Everybody is looking to take advantage of that different profile. That is the mantra executives are getting. Same amount of dollars, more capability, now the challenge is OPX vs. CAPX. We feel like we’re ahead of the game, we projected this.

What is your CEO asking from you?

 My CEO is looking to move to cloud strategy faster.  We feel good about the position we are in. The CEO never thought we would say this but we’re the competitive advantage for the company. The biggest concern that’s on their mind is it’s an incredibly target rich environment because we can do things better than we’ve done before. You really can think differently. That’s what we’re trying to get our heads around. In the next 5 years it’s going to be drastically different. You won’t have silos, you will really drive your business differently. The question is what do we go after first that’s going to drive the best amount of value. The speed we can move is so much faster, you don’t want to make mistakes, you want to invest in the right things. We can go a lot faster than we’ve gone in the past. Your investment dollars aren’t going to go up much, a little but not much. It’s about if it’s being put in the right place. We focus on 3 things. We operate as 1 team, win with the basics – cloud has to have reliability, scalability. The 3rd thing is what are you going to do to move the needle? Those are all great- what will drive the greatest amount of value using emerging and advanced technologies.

You’re gathering all this big data that sits in the cloud. Where are you getting that data from? Are you able to govern and look at data analytics, talk to me about IOT. 

 IOT is very interesting in some cases many industries have been doing it for a while. It’s more enabled now. The way we think of that is how we think of the lab of the future, changing the way our customers view our products. That could be anything from sophisticated instruments to anything we see in their workflow.  How do we automate that workflow?  Use the internet of things to drive that a lot faster.  Mobility is really driving us internally more than anything. How do we automate our customers workflow. With BI and analytics it’s really a target rich environment for us both internally and externally. We are connecting all of our salesforce all around lead management. We are in silos.  We did a lot of work crunching our CRM data and systems to better enhance our sales agents to manage leads. When you look at the customers we have and at the complexity of our portfolio that’s a great opportunity for us. As we continue to roll out the cloud it gets us closer to the customer.
That is the beauty of where Thermo Fisher is. We have the biggest portfolio. If you look at the actual scientific analysis. We are using genomic data to help doctors and clinicians do a better job at servicing their clients. We are at the very beginning of learning how big data can learn from data, connect them together and ultimately drive better decisions.  The product in airlines was a seat. You measured every seat every mile. Semiconductors was a semiconductor. You sold power controllers. In our world, we sell these products, have warehouse full of products. At the end of the day it’s all a digital answer.  What type of cancer do I have and what is the best treatment.
That’s why I love the company, the industry, this is the last place I will ever work. When you look at what we do, the mission is to make the world healthier, cleaner, safer, and that is all digital. So this is going to change the way you live and I live. I have 2 kids alive today because of what the company does. They were both born with a rare genetic disorder, and because of our instruments they found the diagnosis, the rare genetic mutation and treated it and they take medication 3 times a day and it was this digital answer. When I think of the future of big data you see a future that is really different for everyone.

Talk to me about back up and disaster recovery.

For on premise things we have SunGuard and the normal capabilities. We think of AWS and Microsoft, the investment profile that they’re putting into this capability far exceeds anything else that anyone can do. What are we doing differently, how are we investing- It’s all of those dollars our execs want us to trim to invest in what will move the needle. We have a great relationship with Microsoft, Oracle, and AWS and over time we will continue to mix it up.

Any challenges with hiring?

You have to groom them from within. It’s really exciting internally here. We had over 200 people go over DevOps training in the Amazon platform. We have very few data centers. From a training perspective it’s a pretty exciting opportunity. You have to train them yourself, it will pay off, there just isn’t enough folks out there right now. We have a pretty aggressive training platform.


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