As Senior Vice President of Information Technology, Bron McCall is responsible for all of the technology at Extra Space Storage. McCall—who’s been with the self storage organization for nine years—builds, supports, and secures everything from core systems and networking to telecommunications and the company’s internal help desk.
Recently, we sat down with McCall for a Q&A to learn more about his work in Information Technology, the best advice he’s been given, and what he’s most proud of in his career.
Q: How did your career path lead you to Extra Space Storage?
A: Prior to joining Extra Space Storage, I was CIO at Flying J. Flying J merged with another company called Pilot. I helped lead the effort of merging the two companies’ technology teams. As part of the merger, headquarters was moved to Tennessee and, at the time, I wasn’t interested in moving my family. I had known a little about Extra Space Storage already and was impressed at how leading-edge they were in technology. When I saw an available position, I was quick to apply.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
A: Early in my career at Extra Space Storage, I was presented with an opportunity for a new position. I wasn’t sure that I was interested because of what I felt the job was. I was told by a great leader here that the position doesn’t have to be what it is today. I can make it my own and be what I want it to be. This was great advice, and I have since given this advice to others. At Extra Space Storage, there are no hard lines to hold you back. You can make your role to be whatever your ambition allows.
Q: Which experience(s) in your career influenced who you are today?
A: There are numerous experiences that have shaped who I am today, many of which have occurred here at Extra Space Storage—from mentors who have had radical candor with me, giving me that gift of honest feedback, to numerous smart people who have taught me so much about our business and leadership in general. But one thing I have been lucky enough to receive on multiple occasions is trust. Potentially one of the largest grants of trust was early in my career at Flying J. I was promoted to CIO early in my tenure. I expressed to the CEO concerns about my ability and whether I would have respect. He said, “Yes, you have a lot to learn, but why not now?” and as for respect he simply said, “Respect is given where it is due.” That really stuck with me to not fear really hard challenges, especially when you have support behind you.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
A: The most challenging aspect of my career has been making good technology decisions. Often, these decisions are very expensive and are decisions you need to live with for a long time. In general, I have tried to understand the business, where it’s going, what future needs are going to be, then I talk to a lot of really smart people on my team, experts in the industry, and peers at other companies. Lastly, apply all of that to potential solutions to formulate a direction. I have not always been correct, but over time, I have learned from those mistakes and have formulated strategies to that minimize risk by failing faster.
Q: What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
A: One thing that makes me excited to come to work in the morning is seeing the impact on the business technology can have. Whether it’s making someone’s job easier through process efficiency, a new customer experience, or reducing expense—those give me a lot of satisfaction. However, the most fulfilling aspect is seeing people that I have worked with grow. I’m so proud to see individuals advance and excel with new challenges and ascend to higher levels.
Q: Describe your most successful endeavor with Extra Space Storage.
A: I would say that the Microsoft Dynamics AX system implementation would be the most successful endeavor to date. Changing financial systems is a big deal, and they have a tendency to be over-budget and take too long. I am proud to have been part of a team that was able to successfully complete this implementation on budget and with only a slight delay in completion. What was really important about this particular implementation is that this was the first step of modernizing all of our core systems. Setting the right tone and building this strong foundation was critical to all the projects that have been completed since.
Q: What advice would you give to future Extra Space Storage leaders?
A: Living the Extra Space Storage values is table stakes, but just as important is cultivating an environment of taking healthy risks. We need to continue innovating and challenging long-held assumptions. Sometimes, we will fail. When that occurs, ask questions of what we learned, pivot, and try again. You do this by trusting and supporting your team regardless of outcome.
This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR) team members. Bron McCall is the Senior Vice President of Information Technology at Extra Space Storage.