Ted Maulucci is a great talker, but there’s far more than talk to the president and founder of SmartONE Solutions. As the champion of one of the first smart communities in the Greater Toronto Area, and an award winning disruptor in the residential technology industry, Maulucci walks the talk when it comes to making the world a better place.
“Part of leadership is actually caring for people at a legitimate, heartfelt level,” he says, speaking with ITWC CIO Jim Love on Leadership in the Digital Enterprise, an ITWC podcast series focused on real discussions of leadership in this new digital era. “If you do that, everything else falls into place.”
Almost Three Decades of On-The-Job Training
The highlights of Maulucci’s career begin with his first job as a construction supervisor with Tridel, a company he remained with for 26 years, performing a succession of ever more complex roles until he became CIO. “I never got bored,” he says. “I got to work in a lot of different businesses, in a lot of different capacities.”
Burning the Boats
The Tridel experience lit a fire for starting his own business, an entrepreneurial move that Maulucci likens to burning the boats in order to take the island. “A lot of people think they want to be entrepreneurs,” he says, “but they also want the safety of their jobs. They just don’t get that it doesn’t work that way.”
In response to a question from Love about how it felt to suddenly be responsible for every aspect of a business, Maulucci describes the learning curve that accompanied going from being part of a team at Tridel to working alone to hire people and build a company. His greatest challenge was tuning himself in to the world of entrepreneurship, but it’s a challenge that saw him named the Private Sector Canadian CIO of the Year in 2016 for his work on advancing smart and connected communities.
Authenticity and Culture
Asked what leadership means to him, Maulucci points to authenticity. “It’s not about you. It’s about helping the people around you meet and fulfill their dreams,” he says. “I don’t think you can do proper leadership without the authenticity that people need. It’s the little things that you do that make the difference all the way along.”
Culture is a critical issue for Maulucci, and one he thinks is often misconstrued. “Culture is not one thing,” he explains. “It’s everything that you do. It’s what you say. It’s the environment that you create. So many leaders don’t understand that everything that happens is a result of what they’ve done.”
Amid reflections on hybrid work, Maulucci stresses the importance of maintaining the human connection in order to grow and flourish. It’s a position that makes sense given that some of his most valuable learnings come from people he has encountered along his career journey. Books have also played a pivotal role in his personal development, but it’s discussing books with others that holds the most joy.
One of Maulucci’s greatest achievements is helping to create a national collaboration framework that brought four universities together to advance innovation. It may sound theoretical, but the benefits are here and now – in aggregating data and running machine learning and AI against patterns to improve the reliability of sensors that keep seniors safe in their homes. “And we can do that in ways beyond the care of seniors,” he says. “We can use the same tools for sustainability and security. All those different pieces can come together under that platform.”
Maulucci sees the futures as bright if we do things the right way. As for his advice to the next generation, he wishes he had read more, paid more attention to the power of writing, and had more exposure to different points of view. Those things might have taken him on a different journey, but likely one that would have led to – as he says when he speaks to university students – doing as much good stuff as possible.
For more on Maulucci’s leadership in using smart-home technology to advance the digital living experience for homeowners, tune in to Ted Maulucci’s guest spot on Leadership in the Digital Enterprise .