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DCE Magazine

Managing Einsteins

Spring 2021

Leading teams of creative tech professionals requires a different set of skills than managing your typical office.

Marty Wartenberg

“The objective of this program is to provide technical managers and managers of technology with the latest approaches to creating and developing new products in a very fast and competitive global environment.” Marty Wartenberg, Instructor

Here’s a modern-day dilemma for managers in today’s tech-driven world: How do you lead teams of geniuses who are busy changing the way we live and work? Being a leader of extremely bright and ingenious minds requires a quite different set of skills than managing in a typical office environment.

Innovative organizations have created a more imaginative, risk-taking culture that’s necessary for developing advanced products that resonate with customers worldwide. To meet the challenge, management must adjust to a more agile, flexible approach. Effective leadership in these high-tech milieus simply demands more inventive methodologies that nurture creative minds and help shepherd these ideas into reality.

Developing these leaders of tomorrow is essential in order to capitalize on the rampant progress in the tech sector. And UCI Division of Continuing Education aims to help produce the next generation with the new Technology and Team Driven Innovation Certificate Program.

“Building and sustaining technology- and science-based functional groups and project teams is very different than the traditional approach to leadership and team building,” said Marty Wartenberg, an award-winning instructor for the program. “You are dealing with extremely intelligent, ego-driven individuals who are highly committed to achieving great things. My partner at ZB Global and I have written articles that basically talk about ‘Managing Einsteins.’ The traditional books and approaches are not as effective in this unique and special environment.”

Wartenberg’s personal leadership style could serve as a template for the program – a transition from a command-and- control model to adopting the Agile Servant Leadership Model. “The leader’s role is to define the objectives, make sure that everyone knows their part and role and then basically help the team perform by removing any impediments to progress and making sure that the team has everything they need to succeed,” he said.

Leadership in a fast-moving, tech-driven environment demands a more flexible approach, as well as a broad knowledge of technical systems and innovations. Wartenberg and a team of expert instructors lay the foundation for students to gain the background necessary to lead those Einsteins.

Managing creative minds

The foundational concepts of team-driven development can be traced to the methodologies developed by IDEO Design and Innovation in Palo Alto in the ‘90s, later incorporated into the Agile Project Management model that took hold in the tech sector around 2001. The idea was to transition from traditional process-driven culture to a flexible, value-driven approach.

Technology has advanced by light-years since then, and the team-driven leadership model, as reflected in the certificate program, has evolved to keep up with the rampant change.

“The objective of this program is to provide technical managers and managers of technology with the latest approaches to creating and developing new products in a very fast and competitive global environment,” Wartenberg said. “This includes best practices in processes, methods, tools and use of key resources including the people involved. UCI’s program will utilize both traditional and new Agile methods for systems design and agile development.”

The Technology and Team Driven Innovation certificate program, offered entirely online, provides the tools needed to lead successfully in a range of industries – any organization that offers products or services with a tech-heavy component. Today that covers virtually every sector, but the major focus is on companies that produce hardware and software and systems-type projects, Wartenberg said.

“This includes both commercial and military, aerospace and medical instrumentation, and the technical aspects of healthcare delivery. The program also provides an excellent grounding for new graduates who wish to get a boost in their value to their organizations by being ready for greater organizational challenges.”

A background in team-driven innovation is also a boon for tech professional who are considering management positions in IT departments in communication, automotive and pharmaceutical organizations. Aside from leadership skills, students will get hands-on experience with a wide range of breakthrough technologies and innovations.

“The range of breakthrough technologies include all of the basic changes that allows for the creation of new businesses,” Wartenberg said. “For example, development of the internet and the smartphone allowed for the creation of apps and new businesses like Uber, Airbnb and others – technologies like nanotechnology, new materials, micro techniques.”

Learning from experience

Recipient of many UCI awards, including Distinguished Instructor, Wartenberg brings a deep and broad background to the program, with experience as a design engineer and chief operating officer for an electronics company in Anaheim. He served as president of a technology firm in New York and, after retirement, started his own tech consulting firm with a wide range of clients in Southern California.

Along the way he honed his expertise in managing leadingedge tech systems at the highest levels. He was eventually hired by UCI to create their Corporate Training program and helped it become the largest such program in the UC system, with clients including Boeing, Northrop Grumman and hundreds of others.

Wartenberg has developed and taught in many UC programs, establishing his management and systems design philosophies which he shares in the Technology and Team Driven Innovation program. “My favorite lessons are the leadership aspects of project management and the impact of various cultures on the leadership and team-building for successful teams,” he said. “Most of the project management topics can easily be learned from books, but the actual teaching of and explaining how to both lead and manage successful cross-functional, cross-cultural teams is a real challenge and is best done with lots of examples, role plays and actual cases.”

Wartenberg’s overall philosophy can be summed up in a single quote he shares, and lives by, from Mike Cohn, owner of Mountain Goat Software: “A true leader removes boulders and carries water.”

Learn more about the Technology and Team Driven Innovation Certificate Program.