This week, 352 hosted Hemang Dave, Chief Architect & CTO at IBM, for our 9th virtual Off the Record conversation. Hemang is a seasoned innovator with deep experience in technology and an empathic approach to human problems. Robert Berris, SVP of Innovation at 352, moderated this insightful exchange about gaining stakeholder buy-in, the first 90 days in an innovator role, and the importance of mentorship. Below are highlights from the conversation:

Build Alignment Through Empathy

Hemang shared that a big part of his success in working within large organizations is to have a lot of transparent conversations with key stakeholders. He said that as part of his current role, it’s important that others see IT as a partner in growing the business, not a barrier. “IT is not an enforcer, it’s an enabler.” Hemang cautioned that some take a rigid approach to technology, which doesn’t leave much room for conversation or collaboration with stakeholders. However, Hemang has found success in a global and remote working environment like IBM by balancing objective-focused structured conversations and relationship-building unstructured conversations.

Create A 90-Day Personal Plan

When one attendee asked for advice on what he should focus on during his first 90 days as a new innovation manager, Hemang responded candidly. He suggested investing time into helping others see you as an innovator and a disruptor. Hemang also recommended creating a strategy around ideal outcomes and how you want to use technology or innovation frameworks to help drive that outcome.

Find Mentors Who Push You To Be Better

We loved hearing Hemang advocate for the importance of having professional mentors. He shared that he currently has six, and recommends that you should not choose a mentor in your current line of command to avoid bias. Hemang says he has found so much value in mentors because they can help you navigate your own personal blindspots, which everyone has. Lastly, Hemang shared that some of the best advice he ever received from a mentor was from someone who was incredibly well-read. “When you are more curious, you open yourself up for learning. If you do business as usual, it won’t take you anywhere. Stay curious. Everything cannot be a tech conversation, because tech is just a vehicle. Innovative mindset never gets dull, it always stays shiny,” said Hemang.

Check out these resources to learn more:

Please join us on May 26th at 9AM for our Off the Record with Pete Dulcamara, Chief Scientist and Technical VP of Kimberly-Clark. You can RSVP today.


352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.