Stories and Viewpoints

A Soft Touch: Development Program Fine Tunes Leadership Skills for IT Colleagues


By: Niki Kapsambelis



There’s no mistaking the critical role that digitization plays in the business world, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – and the subsequent rise in remote work.  


As the demand for information technology increases, so, too does the role of the IT professional, who is now asked to weigh in on issues that extend far beyond the technical aspects of the job. To help colleagues who work in this area meet these new challenges, Viatris’ Pittsburgh headquarters recently offered a small team of people the opportunity to sharpen their skills by participating in the IT Leadership Development Program offered by the Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group.  


The cohort, who graduated in June 2022, spent eight months developing the so-called “soft skills” that are integral to leadership, including communicating, influencing, delegation and vision-setting, among others. 


“One of the things I struggle with after 28 years in IT is the (tech-speak) language barrier,” said Crystal Romano-Kniceley, Viatris’ director of data governance and integration, who was part of the cohort. “Being able to communicate with our business partners in a successful way is challenging, just because of our roles.”  


Through the eight-month program, Crystal learned how to communicate with business partners the benefits of the technical solutions she and her team develop: “Instead of simply executing on a project, it’s about bringing a full solution to your business partner and communicating the benefits to them as part of that solution.” 


Dr. Roopesh Rangdale, IT business partner for Global Medical Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Operations, said participants can spread what they learn as the scope of their responsibilities increases. 


“We need to be agile. We need to have the business acumen. And we should have the skill sets to collaborate and market the value of IT with stakeholders across many geographies and business units,” he said, adding that IT often must communicate to stakeholders across many geographies and functions while showing each audience the relevant value add of the project to get their buy-in. 


The program has existed since 2018, but this was the first time Viatris has participated, noted Missy Paxton, director of IT change management and communications. She said developing these types of leadership and business skills in up-and-coming IT leaders is a competitive advantage “the IT space is moving and booming at all times; it’s constantly evolving.” Staying ahead of trends and communicating them to the rest of the business functions is a driver for success, she added.  


Bethany Dustin, who coordinates the program for Ouellette and Associates – which delivers it on behalf of the Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group – called the program a “force multiplier,” meaning graduates can amplify the impact of the learnings by sharing them with others at their companies. 


The program features workshops, one-on-one mentoring with CIO-level leaders from a variety of companies, networking opportunities and a capstone project.  


Logan Stanley, who is the solution architect for Viatris’ Corporate Functions IT team, was pleased to see what a strong presence the Viatris team had within the entire cohort.  


“It was clear that Viatris really is a leader in the tech space,” he said.  

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