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(Re) Elevating Tech Expertise & the Power of Continued Learning

headshot of Reid Peryam

“The value of learning and improving myself is difficult to ignore.” -Reid Peryam 

For twenty years, Reid Peryam devoted his energy and brainpower as a software engineer and architect building software solutions. Now, with the help of Berkeley's Chief Technology Officer Program (CTO) and Certificate of Business Excellence (COBE), he’s transitioned to business leadership and advising private equity clients on technology in mergers and acquisitions. On the buy-side, he focuses on the technical due diligence of target companies; post-acquisition, he accelerates investment returns using technology for value creation. On the sell-side, Reid helps prepare portfolio companies for sale and external diligence. While he remains invested in promoting business value, he’s elevated his focus on investment strategy, constraints, and costs. 

For individuals deeply entrenched in the tech landscape, like Reid, enrolling in specialized programs becomes not just an option but a necessity. In this post, we'll delve into his experiences with Berkeley's Chief Technology Officer Program (CTO) and Certificate of Business Excellence (COBE), shedding light on how these programs have shaped his professional trajectory and enhanced his approach to leadership and innovation.

Complementing Technical Expertise with Business Acumen

From software engineering to advising private equity clients, Reid’s journey has been one of constant evolution. The allure of the CTO and COBE programs at UC Berkeley Executive Education stemmed from their promise to provide a comprehensive blend of technical expertise and business acumen. The flexibility of remote learning made it even more enticing, aligning perfectly with his globe-trotting lifestyle.

The CTO program served as a wake-up call, emphasizing the importance of organizational dynamics and stakeholder management in tackling industry challenges. It broadened his perspective beyond technical intricacies, equipping him with the tools to navigate complex business landscapes.

The COBE program was a game-changer for Reid, offering a diverse range of courses that directly supported his work in technology strategy. From data-driven decision-making to leadership principles, each course provided invaluable insights that he could immediately apply to his professional endeavors.

In taking the Business Analytics for Leaders and Artificial Intelligence: Business Strategies and Applications courses, Reid learned to identify data science capabilities across a maturity model that can be extended and matured opportunistically. Both proved to be an effective mix of technical details and real-world applications of AI/ML from an executive perspective. Reid continually references AI technology methods from the curriculum in his work. He recently applied his learnings to a project with a company that maintains a coded business rule engine that segments customer accounts for revenue potential. He seized the opportunity to advise the company to implement AI/ML capabilities and experiment with implementing their rule engine as an unsupervised machine learning solution.  

Integrating AI/ML into a business analytics framework for this client directly resulted from insights gained from the programs. By leveraging concepts learned in the Executive Education courses, Reid could confidently propose innovative solutions that enhanced the client's capabilities. 

The Digital Transformation course introduced him to new operational management methodologies and opportunities to creatively leverage technology to enable business objectives - skills that have seamlessly integrated into his daily work life. 

Additionally, the Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: Technologies, Strategic Applications, and Emerging Trends course was useful in backfilling his understanding of decentralization and crypto, while the five-day Haas Executive Leadership course emphasized the distinction between management and leadership and how effective influence is key to building trust and organizational alignment. 

Impactful Lessons, Insights, and Applications

"Innovation moves at the speed of trust" - Berkeley Executive Leadership Program

For Reid, words of wisdom from faculty, guest speakers, and peers resonated deeply, reinforcing the importance of leadership and trust in driving innovation. These insights have shaped Reid’s approach to work and influenced his leadership style within his professional dynamics. These educational experiences have reinforced his commitment to fostering a culture of continuous learning and innovation.

In the Product Management Workshop, the importance of storytelling for influence and persuasion emphasized the “uncomfortable” truth that rhetoric influences people. Now, Reid understands it’s tantamount to effective communication and building stakeholder trust. This was a “soft” skill he didn’t expect to leave such a lasting impression and to be so significant to his professional development. 

Taking these newfound skills and applying them to real-life work scenarios proved to be an essential experience for Reid’s skill development.  The Capstone projects provided an opportunity to address growth prospects he perceived within his company, and after completing a project, he often shared it with colleagues as proof of concepts. These were straightforward ways to demonstrate his valuable skills and how the organization could ultimately benefit from what he was learning. 

For example, his company seeks to integrate AI capabilities within its processes and products. He used the Capstone for the Business Analytics for Leaders course to champion a proof of concept for integrating machine learning into their internal analytics platform that collects operational metrics. To explore the potential of AI applications, he built mock data to replicate platform data, and he constructed machine learning models with Azure Machine Learning's AutoML to demonstrate how they could extract additional business value from the previously collected data on their platform. This step has assisted in his advocating for other data-driven opportunities that could improve the company and ensure effective data collection.

His Capstone from the Artificial Intelligence course also led to some interesting outcomes. Reid used his project as evidence to pitch integrating a Large Language Model (LLM) functionality within an internal platform his company uses for research and auditing purposes. The final pitch included UX mock-ups of how AI capabilities would interface along with key metrics for effective tracking to understand if the added features were generating value for users and, if so, in what ways. This idea was more of a thought exercise for Reid, and it helped conceptualize learnings from the course with probable outcomes. He now sees a long-term opportunity to replicate the Capstone format for future proof of concepts in his workplace. 

Navigating capstone projects posed challenges, but with perseverance and critical thinking, Reid could tailor assignments to suit his professional domain. These challenges were valuable learning experiences, reinforcing the programs' practical applicability. In some cases, the real challenge was scoping and bending the assignments in an applicable and relevant way, similar to many technological implementations and client deliverables. That extra little effort that necessitated critical thinking was where the value came from.

Growth & Persistence 

As Reid continues to evolve professionally, the skills and knowledge acquired from these programs will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping his future endeavors. As a technologist, he has been tasked with the ever-present demand to continue learning, evolving, and expanding his skill set. 

 The CTO course was a stepping stone that allowed Reid entry into his current role. It provided him with the insight and perspective he needed to transition from a technical leader to a business leader. The other courses he’s taken through Haas have been like “gravy on top”  - they have helped him excel in his current role and accelerate the process of reaching new professional goals. Fortunately, with the assistance of this program and its varied courses, Reid’s persistence and focus on growth positions him to seize new opportunities and drive meaningful change in the tech industry.

In a rapidly evolving professional landscape, continuous learning isn't just advantageous—it's imperative. Ongoing learning is necessary to remain competitive, relevant, and aware. This program’s defining leadership principle is “students always,” and Reid sees UCB Executive Education as a critical aid in his continual learning and improvement journey. 

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary" 
-Steve Jobs