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Inside Track: CIO focuses tech career on people – grbj.com


His father’s bout with cancer pushed Sulabh Srivastava toward the technical side of the health care profession before joining Acrisure. Courtesy Acrisure

Even after years of working with technology and digital innovation, Sulabh Srivastava said his job really is all about people.

Srivastava serves as chief information officer at Acrisure, a Grand Rapids-based global fintech leader. Despite his innovative expertise in overseeing all aspects of technology, cybersecurity and IT for the company, Srivastava has found relationships and mentorships to be a fulfilling part of his career.

People always have made an impact on Srivastava, in fact. While growing up in India, he felt a lot of influence from others around him — especially his dad.

“My dad was a professor, and I grew up among folks who had education as a high priority and were very academic in nature,” Srivastava said. “When I was very young, my dad fell sick, and he is a cancer survivor. His determination to fight through that and come out stronger is something that always drives me even today.”

Witnessing his father’s health journey inspired Srivastava to want to make a difference in the field.

“I didn’t go into medicine because I wasn’t smart enough to go into medicine,” Srivastava said. “But I always had an inkling in the back of my mind that at some point, if given the opportunity, I would work in the health care field and help the people who are caring and helping.”

Both of his parents placed a high emphasis on getting a good education, but Srivastava said he didn’t always have a clear career path in mind.

Thanks to some coaching and mentoring from others in his life, he ended up attending Nagpur University in Maharashtra, India, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Srivastava’s educational experience instilled in him a curiosity mindset and a firm belief in lifelong learning. After graduating and landing a job at a technology company, he was approached by a recruiter to work on a project in the U.S., and curiosity led him to accept the opportunity and end up in Lansing.

As one year turned into the next and so on, Srivastava said he stayed in Michigan because of people.

“People still ask me, ‘Why Michigan?’ … and I don’t have another answer,” he said. “I stayed because of the people and the relationships and the opportunities I’ve received. … It’s been one of the most impactful decisions of my life.”

SULABH SRIVASTAVA

Organization: Acrisure
Position: Chief information officer
Age: 48
Birthplace: Lucknow, India
Residence: Okemos
Family: Wife, Deepika, and children, Neel and Anika
Biggest career break: “The opportunity to lead a team of high-performing individuals 15-16 years ago transformed my career.”

Srivastava then worked for the state of Michigan for several years and built a desire to gain a broader understanding of the business landscape. He went on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Michigan State University.

He also gained new insight on leadership.

“I quickly realized that I have to grow more ‘muscle.’ Human beings are a little more complicated than working on a computer or a set of technologies, and you have to really understand what drives people,” he said.

Prior to joining Acrisure’s leadership team, Srivastava spent 10 years working for Sparrow Health System in Lansing as chief technology officer.

He spearheaded the system’s technology transformation to electronic medical records, which won the hospital the HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence. This was at a time when health care was just starting to transition into an “information technology boom,” as Srivastava recalled.

“Health care is always leading from a medical technology perspective, but from an information technology perspective, there was some lagging,” he said. “Most health systems started to go through that transformation around 2008 up until 2019, I would say, right before COVID-19 hit.”

Srivastava said he still thinks about what would have happened with the coronavirus pandemic had the information technology boom not happened.

“Suddenly electronic medical record systems and connectivity of physicians with patients became such a critical piece for us to be able to survive the pandemic while we were at home but could still see physicians through virtual visits,” he said. “What if we had not gone through that transformation?”

With his journey at Sparrow, Srivastava said he got to know many individuals working in other hospitals and health systems in the state. He also worked with the Sparrow Foundation and helped support the organization in both technology and in fostering relationships.

Although his achievements there were impactful, Srivastava said those 10 years were the most rewarding because of the relationships and the difference he was able to make, just as he thought in the back of his mind years prior.

It also gave him a new perspective on his career.

“I don’t see my job as that of a technologist. My job is all about people,” he said. “It’s all about relationships and all about aligning folks that work both within an organization and outside an organization toward a mission.”

After hitting the 10-year mark at Sparrow, Srivastava couldn’t help but wonder what was next. He ended up pursuing a position as vice president of information technology and innovation at Indiana University Health Systems in Indianapolis for a little over a year.

He found himself wanting to return to Michigan, however, which led him to Acrisure in 2019. He saw community and relationships as part of the company’s DNA and recognized its innate desire to be embedded in the Grand Rapids community.

“When I met (Greg Williams), our CEO, and (Sozon Vatikiotis), our COO, I could really see that Acrisure was not just in the business of dollars and cents. It’s about building a community and giving back,” Srivastava said. 

Acrisure has an intelligence-driven vision, and Srivastava and his team play a significant role in building a foundation for the company to deliver that vision.

“We chase a lot of interesting ideas,” he said. “In this day and age of connected technologies, we feel that the future is extremely bright for our company because we have embraced technology and embraced the transformation technology can bring about.”

He said he enjoys being a catalyst for that growth and change.

“My job is to build relationships and evangelize this idea of technology stewardship,” he said.

Working in IT for a tech company is different than working in IT for another organization, as Srivastava pointed out.

“Sometimes you have companies where technology becomes the responsibility of the IT department, and they tell you what to do. At Acrisure, technology is the main driver for what we all do, and the information technology department is there to support us,” he said.

Srivastava said his department has grown in recent years and continues to seek out technology-oriented and change-oriented individuals. He believes more investment in upcoming talent is important.

“I strongly believe we need to work with local colleges and communities and the technical education program organizations to grow the talent,” he said. “I’m amazed at the technical capabilities of the college students who are coming out of school right now, or individuals who haven’t even gone to college but who have gone through some vocational programs.”

Mentorship and positive influence were so formational for Srivastava earlier in life, and he wants to continue to invest in others in the same way.

“The thing I am proud of in my professional career is growing talent,” he said. “Someone took a chance on me about 17 years ago by saying, ‘Yup, I think you can manage people, and I see some of those traits in you.’ That’s what I get inspired by.”

Outside of work, Srivastava is passionate about connecting with young adults and helping mentor those who aren’t sure what opportunities they want to pursue. He has assisted with the Michigan Council of Women and Technology in promoting technology skills for young women.

He also is “an avid golf coach” and supports his two children who play in golf tournaments throughout Michigan on the weekends.

It’s clear that Srivastava wants to make a positive impact on other people as those throughout his own journey have made his work so rewarding.

“The careers that truly fulfill your soul are the ones where you are doing something for somebody else,” he said.





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