Leader spotlight: Chuck Rivel


Q: What led you to join the Green Leaf team?

A: I have known Kevin [Bucher] and Steve [Cammarota] for about 15 years. I used to do a lot of speaking in the area, and they were always there at the same events. I interviewed at a firm where Kevin and Steve worked at the time, but they didn’t have a project for me then, so I ended up taking another role. A couple years later, at a conference in Seattle, I sat next to Kevin. Initially, we didn’t recognize each other, but when I told him my name, he said, “We have a story about you; the moral is, ‘don’t let a good one get away.’”  

A while later, I was working somewhere that wasn’t a good fit. That employer brought Kevin in for an interview, and he pulled me aside to say, “Listen, we’re starting something; if you want to join us, let us know.”  

Q: What keeps you here?

A: Without a doubt, the people. The work’s similar to what I’ve done for many years, but I love getting together with our group and just talking, hanging out, unwinding. It’s a good group of people. 

Q: What are your area(s) of specialty?

A: My work focuses on leveraging data. I used to do a lot of business intelligence and data warehousing, but now I work mostly in Azure and SQL Server. But I’ve always been a Microsoft stack kind of guy—that’s where my specialty has always been. 

Q: Can you tell us about your journey and how your past experiences have led you to your current area(s) of specialty?

A: As a consultant, my focus is always on the client’s needs—what’s the problem they’re facing, what are they trying to achieve. Over the years, I’ve worked in various sectors, including finance, life sciences, warehousing, and now manufacturing and retail – and they all have different needs. Now, I’m more into master data management at Lutron, which involves connecting the dots between systems, so that’s a need I solve. 

Q: What aspects of technology are you most passionate about, and how do you see these aligning with your role at Green Leaf?

A: Understanding a company’s problem and architecting an answer on the back end. I’m more data-driven, as opposed to focusing on front-end UI.  


Q: What’s one of the most important, interesting, or exciting projects you’ve worked on at Green Leaf, and what made it so special for you?

A: I’ve been all about Lutron since starting at Green Leaf about seven and a half years ago. We built a home-grown data management system from the ground up. Before, Lutron was using a 144-column Excel spreadsheet, with versioning that required huge meetings just to manage the data. A key feature [of the system] was the change management piece – they wanted to be able to identify anyone making a change in the system and approve with just a click. This functionality became so popular that other groups adopted it, and now we support eight to ten siloes of data with this functionality.  

Q: Can you share a specific goal or project you’re aiming to kick-start in the near future? What makes this especially important to you?

A: I’m currently still all about Lutron, but I have always felt a responsibility to help grow a business I work for. If you feel you have ownership in what you do, and you like the people you work for, then the next thing would be growth. I like to talk to people, build new things—in this case, the architecture of what Green Leaf is building and what we can improve for our clients. I want to make sure I’m a part of that. 

Q: Can you tell us about a personal philosophy or approach that guides your work in tech and in serving clients?

A: Listen to what they are asking for. You often don’t have a solution the first time they come to you. It’s an iterative process to understand what you have today, what you’re trying to get to, and what you think is the underlying problem. From there, it’s a clean state. No preconceived notions. Once you learn, you can build. 


Q: In your opinion, what are the major trends that will shape the technology consulting industry in the next five years? 

A: There’s always a buzzword and right now, the buzzword’s AI. People are going to ask how we make AI profitable, and I don’t know the answer to that. AI is more like a template than a full, true definition of what you need to build. It gets you started. The challenge lies in figuring out how to solve from that point, so you’re improving and running your business efficiently. 

Q: What leadership qualities do you think are most important for driving innovation in the technology side of companies today?

A: You should have an understanding of technology, but in the end, technology is just a tool for accomplishing your goals. Whatever the customer wants, you have to listen to their needs and figure out what technology to apply.  

Q: What’s a significant challenge in the tech space many are facing (or will soon be facing), and what, in your opinion, is a potential solution or approach to overcoming it?

A: Not all the technologies that come out will stick around in four or five years, so you need to know which ones will go away. My advice is never be the first to adopt new technology. You have to let people iterate first. There are legitimate conversations about the governance of AI. Let it play out but understand it—don’t be naïve. 

Q: How do you stay updated with the rapid changes in technology, and how do you foresee the evolution of the tech consultant’s role?

A: Conferences – but they can only do so much. They can give you an intro to some things you should know about, and then you have something to read up on. 

Q: What will influence ethical consideration with the rise of AI and data analytics?

A: Unfortunately, there are scammers out there using this technology. You want to make sure that you are representing AI the proper way. You’re using it for your business goals. Governance should be discussed and make sure everyone’s on a fair, clean slate. 

Q: How do you tailor your advisory approach to help clients not just meet but exceed their technology goals?

A: Often, clients might think something is their problem, but usually it’s something else, or solving the initial problem could address several others if it’s done right. Essentially, our process involves uncovering underlying issues. It usually starts small, but as we delve deeper into their metrics, other groups in the company say “Wow, I would like something like that,” and you end up with a couple other systems. Once Green Leaf establishes a working relationship with a client, they never want us to leave. 

Q: Discuss the balance between innovation and risk in technology. How should companies approach risk-taking for technological advancement?

A: For new technologies, it’s best to let the landscape settle first before taking a risk. Understand what the marketplace is becoming, and then pounce when the market is mature enough.  

Q: The role of collaboration in tech has never been more prominent. How do you foster a culture of collaboration with your client(s)?

A: We hold daily meetings with the group I’m working with. For those that the work reports to, it’s important to keep everyone updated on progress, both good and bad. Don’t be scared to raise a red flag and be sure you’re celebrating the wins as well. By keeping all stakeholders informed, we make sure that information gets shared appropriately.  

Q: What skills do you think will be most valuable for the technology workforce of the future, and how can professionals prepare now?

A: Having soft skills can never hurt you. That’ll never change. You can’t build anything if you can’t communicate with people or listen. Technology is also constantly evolving, so you have to keep up with its changes or risk being left behind in the field. 


Q: If you could have dinner with any figure from the world of technology, who would it be and why?

A: I’m not a tech guy outside of what I do. I’m a sports guy. Charlie Manuel [the former Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies]. 

Q: What’s the one gadget or tech you can’t live without?

A: My phone. I was the last one to dive into it, and now we’re all connected. 

Q: Can you share a personal success story or a particularly memorable experience from your career? What made it special for you?

A: I was involved in writing a book about business intelligence and SharePoint when I was at RDA. There were five writers, and I helped put the whole thing together. It got a couple of cool reviews. One guy used it for a college class. It’s 2010 SharePoint, so not up to date anymore. 

Q: Outside of work, what’s a hobby or activity you’re passionate about? How did you become involved in it and why is it important to you?

A: Baseball. I grew up playing it. I coached my son’s team for many years and I play in a 45+ baseball league. I was a sports kid. We would play baseball anywhere—on the streets. I always loved the sport. I also go to the gym and play golf. 

Q: Green Leaf is a place where there’s a good balance of serious business and good-natured humor. Can you give a fun example of when you’ve either doled out or been on the receiving end of some of that humor?

A: We’ve had a couple of different events where I seem to spill red wine on myself. As opposed to walking around with a big stain, I go out and buy a shirt. I get ribbed about that. We had a wine tasting event and one of the Green Leaf partners gave me an apron in case I would spill. But I wore a purple shirt, so if I spilled no one would know.