September 22, 2020

Inspired Execution: The Secret to 20+ Years of Innovation: Always Put the Customer First with T-Mobile’s CIO

Inspired Execution: The Secret to 20+ Years of Innovation: Always Put the Customer First with T-Mobile’s CIO

T-Mobile EVP, CIO and Chief Product Officer, Cody Sanford talks about T-Mobile’s customer-obsessed approach with DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor.

The fourth episode of the Inspired Execution podcast is hot off the proverbial presses. In it, T-Mobile EVP, CIO and Chief Product Officer, Cody Sanford shares insights about:

  • How his role at T-Mobile has evolved over the last two decades
  • His experience leading the 3G effort at T-Mobile — which happened to coincide with Google’s first Android phone
  • The circuitous route that took him to the C-suite at T-Mobile and how he believes it made him a better-rounded executive
  • How T-Mobile puts customers at the center of all that it does
  • The advice Cody wishes he could’ve told a younger version of himself
  • What T-Mobile has learned during COVID-19 and what it means for the future

Cody kicks off the podcast by sharing a vignette that illustrates just how drastically cell phones have evolved during his 20-year career.

“I actually started in wireless when cell phones were still held in two hands or in a briefcase. And most of the listeners probably won’t remember that, but I remember very fondly picking up my first Motorola brick and being so excited I could get 25 minutes of talk time.”

Cody also talks about the “very circuitous, very nontraditional” route he took to the CIO office.

“I think it’s provided me a very unique window into what makes our business tick, what our customers care about the most, and how information people and process and technology is threaded from left to right through our company.”

Per Cody, one of the big reasons T-Mobile has been so successful over the years is because the company puts its customers and its frontline employees at the center of their decision-making processes.

“I would tell you that the easiest part for me has been the fact that our company has always kept our customer and our employees, especially our frontline employee, at the center of our decision making. And that is an easy place to ground yourself, because it was always there, and it was always resident in how we made decisions and how we prioritized.”

In order to be a truly customer-obsessed organization, companies need to make it as easy as possible for employees to relay ideas and insights to upper management.

“By creating all these grooved channels for communication to run from the employees that serve our customers every day and the customers themselves, that information becomes instantly consumed by the leadership team, and then we pivot as necessary.”

Cody also touches upon COVID-19 and how it’s forced T-Mobile to change the way it operates.

“For T-Mobile specifically, and for my team in particular, we are literally in the throes of discussing how to have a distributed workforce and preserve the elements of our culture that we think make us unique, and make our teams unique and make T-Mobile the kind of place that someone wants to work for.”

Listen to this episode of Inspired Execution to learn more about Cody’s professional journey, how T-Mobile has used data to continuously put its customers first, and what your organization can do to do the same.

The story behind “Inspired Execution”

Interested in learning more about the genesis of the Inspired Execution podcast?

Remember to listen to previous episodes of Inspired Execution with

Also, check out Episode 0 to hear DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor speak to what inspired the series and what listeners can expect from his interviews with CIOs and tech leaders from the world’s top enterprises.

The podcast series is available on InspiredExecution.comApple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify.


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