Mike Kiersey is EMEA CTO at Boomi, the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) company.

Having been launched in 2000 to provide a simple drag and drop technique for integration processes, the iPaaS venture was later acquired by Dell in 2010.

Dell subsequently sold Boomi for $4bn at the beginning of May to the investment firm Francisco Partners and the private equity firm TPG Capital. The sale is expected to close by the end of 2021.

In this Q&A, the 47th in our series of CTO Talks, Kiersey reveals how his interest in tech first got started and the craziest thing he’s ever done for fun.

Eric Johansson: Tell us a bit about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?

Mike Kiersey: I have worked in the IT industry for over 25 years. I am technically curious with experience across multiple industries in a multitude of different roles as a CIO, consulting leader, systems integrator and software provider. I came into Boomi from the Dell Technologies side of the business to grow and innovate our partner ecosystem; from here it blossomed to being the technical voice of EMEA and helping our customers and partners innovate quickly.

Where did your interest in tech come from?

My interest in technology started way back when I was a civil engineer. To do my job I needed technology to help with the mass of calculations to build ungodly structures and buildings. Once I had seen the power of automation, I was instantly hooked and my interest grew from there.

Which emerging technology do you think holds the most promise once it matures?

I think the emerging technology that holds the most promise is blockchain – not bitcoin as people always think. I see this as a fundamental shift in how businesses conduct business transactions today and how business models will change for the future e.g. tokenisation.

How do you separate hype from genuine innovation?

I separate hype from genuine innovation by playing with technology. I am not just a reader of technology; you need to be more curious and a little more hands-on to understand the mechanics of technology. Talking tech is one aspect, but practising is where the value and experience are acquired. Here I also leverage my 14-year-old son who is uber-cool and up to date with the latest technology.

What one piece of advice would you offer to other CTOs?

One piece of advice that never fails is to actively listen. Understand your teams, your business, your customers and market drivers. It’s not great to be a CTO who builds products that no one wants. It needs to be aligned with the business.

What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?

The biggest technological challenge facing humanity today is jobs. Technology is moving so fast with automation and robots etc. One key question is “How are we going to support future economies?”

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for fun?

Where do you start? I love sport and I was a keen cyclist back in the day. I once signed up for a 200km cycle ride just outside of Cape Town in South Africa for charity, with minimal training – pretty much zero. I crashed and burned but I eventually made it – it didn’t feel like fun at the time and it felt very surreal to enter unprepared. I learnt a lot of lessons that day.