Bart Louwagie

Bart’s key achievements and values:

Skills

Business and IT strategy, planning and budgeting; security and compliance (NIST, HIPAA); partnership building; operations; project management and coordination.

Cloud first architecture; hybrid cloud and migration; Microsoft Azure and 365; SIEM; business intelligence; virtualization; databases; network design; storage; infrastructure.

About

Growing up on a farm, my dad recognized my passion and bought me an Apple II Plus. But it came with a challenge: use this to optimize the feeding of each milk cow. That is how we rolled: learning by being challenged to deliver real value. Sailing -another passion of mine- trained me in teamwork, thought me the importance of intensive preparation, for the unknown.

Throughout my career, these strategic skills proved their worth in various challenging situations:

  • When a large nonprofit had had been down for weeks, I was hired to get the organization back on its feet, whilst recovering them from a slew of bad IT-practices. Since, I have solved similar situations for other large-scale organizations and built partnerships to deliver their IT for over 3000 employees in 120 locations. We built a private cloud infrastructure and combined this with public cloud solutions to migrate to a hybrid environment.
  • Equally, when a major storm during a sailing race in 1995, I was one of only two of the six crew on our boat still willing to steer. With ten other boats lost, we took home an important lesson in life, which proved to be important for my own career: delivering security is not a theory, or technology. It is a set of interlocking pieces, human, operational and technology that work together. A major ransomware attack at one of the organizations I worked at left hardly any traces: no data was lost; no ransom was paid and only one part of operations was down for a few hours. Exactly because we were ready, and the team knew what to do.

My pragmatic approach to IT security delivers optimal protection of any organizations’ data for employees and customers, whilst meeting compliance requirements and passing audits.

At the executive level business value needs to be delivered and operations must be optimized, enabling staff to do their job in the best possible circumstances, simple and effective. Customers need to receive great services whilst protecting their privacy, in line with real-world challenges. An essential part of reaching this are technology partnerships and cloud first solutions as to scale up, reduce cost and improve services. Having worked in five countries across three continents, I consider cultural diversity as a stimulus for motivating a team, letting it grow and being an active part of it as a proactive leader.

If you are challenged by the real-world complexities of IT and need someone who understand the technological and human challenges, please reach out to me. I’d love to work with you on that.

Contact me if you have those needs.

Innovate and deliver results.

Examples:

Advance Care Alliance and partners: Developed the vision, architecture, and delivered a NIST 800-53 and HIPAA compliant cloud-only infrastructure for three healthcare organizations using a zero-trust approach with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 frameworks.
Guide a partnership between the three NY state organizations that represent over 50% of the related market.
Consulted a cohort CIOs of NY human services organizations on their IT strategies.

The Arc: Created innovative collaboration between IT teams of several healthcare organizations to form one team, one infrastructure, one approach, increasing know-how and services such as internal social networking. Combined teams from three organizations to become one group, encouraging each other to grow and innovate. Created a shared private cloud and regularly demonstrated disaster readiness. Moved LAN, WAN, Internet, Business Intelligence, Information Rights Management, Electronic Health Records and email protection services to the cloud.
Thanks to good security and disaster readiness practices, recovered from a Ransomware attack with only a few hours downtime and zero data loss nor payout.
Selected innovative solutions such as Ejenta (Artificial Intelligence in healthcare trial), Soha (universal secure access, later bought by Akamai), Zscaler (deep Internet security), Meraki (software defined WAN and LAN), MimeCast (email security) and more.

Flanders Language Valley: In less than a year, created strategic partnerships with Cisco and Microsoft to build a state of the art IT infrastructure for 26 buildings including a Voice over IP showcase and an early iteration of a Microsoft private cloud. This provided fully supported application, storage, communication, network, backup and Internet services to 30 different companies in a fully meshed fault tolerant secure setup.  Got Cisco to invest technology and $3M.

European Space Agency (ESA): In one year, completely redesigned the LAN infrastructure for the ESA research campus and designed an improved protection of the ESA networks. Hired ethical hackers to find weaknesses and address them.

United Nations: Built all IT services, infrastructure and software solutions for a new department that was created to take care of the victims of the first Gulf war.

Sailing: Sailing has been a passion of mine since I was fourteen. It has taught me a lot about teamwork and about commitment to results. When we were hit by a major storm during a race (Transat de Alizés) in 1995 only two of of the six crew on our boat still dared to steer. I was one of them. That race ultimately cost the life of 10 persons and many boats were lost. Getting everyone on our boat safe, as a team was a life lesson.

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Actualize and collaborate

As CIO, CTO, IT departments and vendors our goal is to make it easier for the organization we work with to reach their mission and vision.

Technology and technology discussions are only a means to get to that goal, yet often we (IT) create endless discussion about technicalities at all levels. We pretend that that is after all what our customers depend on: That things don’t break. Things not breaking is not good enough, not anymore.

I was challenged by the need to share and explain this goal with IT team members, management, vendors and partners. Organisations need to work towards the goal and the board and management needs to sponsor the right initiatives, hire the right people and vendors so that IT can become a strategic partner, not an operational technical resource.

In the hierarchy of (human) needs, Maslow explains that humans can only get to self-actualization if the needs below it are met first. Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs inspired me to create Bart’s hierarchy of IT needs.

The lower layers in the hierarchy of IT needs are needed to support the top of the triangle and we need to focus up. The more organizations simplify and standardize on the lower layers the more they can focus on what distinguishes them. This is no different that Mercedes and BMW using the same fuel pumps or tires whilst focusing on what sets them apart and fiercely competing in those areas. Small and big organizations alike will be more successful if they follow the same thinking.

Collaboration can take that a step further. In that case the organisations don’t just standardize internally but the also standardize by collaborating with others, even when they are competitors.

Companies A, B and C may strategically chose to share resources, approaches and solutions to enable more focus on the Mission, Vision. For many this is a difficult concept, but the successful path has been shown before, in healthcare for instance where more and more healthcare groups end up forming larger entities, allowing for more specialization in more fields.  This can take many forms and shapes.  The cloud providers (IAAS, PAAS, SAAS) meet of lot of those needs by providing the lower layers as a third party.

Some guiding principles:

  • Collaborate with other organisations that work in the same field and share solutions
  • Things that already work well on the lower layers do not get revisited unless there is a major reason to do so. Even when agreeing on the collaboration one does not need to force sharing till the specific situation/need demands it.
  • When looking for a solution there should be dramatic improvements over what one already has.
  • Simplicity is critically important in selecting a solution.
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Experience

2018 – now: CIO Security Consultant and Cloud Architect at Advance Care Alliance and and partners organisations and CIO consultant for several NY organisations.

2006 – 2018: CIO at The Arcs of Ulster-Greene, Dutchess and Putnam.
Healthcare services for persons with developmental disabilities.

2003 – 2005: CTO at Jabinc.
Small startup offering mainframe software solutions.

2001 – 2002: Senior Product Manager at Aspect Software.
Manufacturer of call center solutions.

2000 – 2001: CTO at an Intel joint venture with Lernout & Hauspie.
Developer of software products that use speech and language technologies.

1998 – 2000: Director of Technology at Flanders Language Valley
A campus for business that focus speech and language technologies.

1996 – 1998: Consultant: Network Design Team Lead at the European Space Agency (ESA).
Engineers and builds space technologies.

Raised on a farm where we were always constructing, improving and fixing. The first computer arrived when I was a teenager, long before anyone else had computers, with the challenge to optimize the milk production through optimizing the feeding of the cows.

For more details about my experience, see my LinkeIn profile.

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Multi-disciplinary

Roles
  • Chief Information Officer.
  • Chief Technology Officer.
  • Founder.
  • IT director.
  • Product manager.
  • Application developer.
  • Electronics engineer.
Technology disciplines
  • Security and disaster readiness.
  • Local and wide area networking .
  • Servers, storage, computing infrastructure.
  • Vertical applications (selection, deployment, operations) .
  • Product and Project management.
  • Data  and business intelligence.
  • Software development.
  • Electronics and chip design.
Industry disciplines
  • High-tech, healthcare, government and fin-tech.
  • Non-profit and commercial.
  • Startup and mid-size.
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