The CIO-Plus series in Forbes explores the trend of CIOs who are taking on more C-level titles. Most CIOs wear many hats. The good news is, those hats are getting more strategic. by Peter High, series on Forbes.com In a recent article, I mentioned the trend in companies around the US and beyond of expanding the CIO’s responsibilities based on the translation of good work done in IT into other divisions and departments in the company. I refer to this phenomenon as the CIO-plus role, and there are many reasons to believe that it is here to stay. CIOs are now also Chief Innovation Officers, Heads of HR, Chief Supply Chain Officers, and Heads of Shared Services to name just a few. Column pieces will be published over several weeks, and the following interviews with leaders who have assumed these additional responsibilities, will include:
- Puneet Bhasin, the Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Technology, Logistics and Customer Service for Waste Management
- Chris Laping, the Senior Vice President of Business Transformation and Chief Information Officer for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
- Randy Spratt, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer for McKesson
- Chris Scalet, the former Executive Vice President of Global Process & Services and CIO of Merck
- Sheleen Quish, the Senior Vice President IT and HR at Ameristar Casinos
- David Johns, the Chief Information Officer and SVP of Global Information Services for Owens Corning, and who used to be Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain and Information Technology Officer of that company
- Ben Allen, the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Innovation Officer of Marsh & McLennan
- Mike Capone, the Chief Information Officer and the Corporate VP of Product Development of ADP
- Praveen Chopra, the Chief Information Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
- Bill Schlough, the Chief Information Officer of the San Francisco Giants and San Jose Giants Chairman
- Matt Aiello, Partner for the CIO/CTO executive placement practice at Heidrick & Struggles
- Tim Theriault, the Chief Information, Innovation, and Improvement Officer of Walgreens
- Karl Salnoske, the Chief Information Officer and EVP of Service Delivery of GXS
- Filippo Passerini, the Chief Information Officer and Group President of Global Business Services of Procter & Gamble
- Patty Hatter, Senior Vice President, Operations & Chief Information Officer of McAfee
- Joe Topinka, Chief Information Officer & Vice President Multichannel Commerce of Red Wing Shoes
- Linda Reed, Chief Information Officer & Vice President of Atlantic Health System
- Vic Bhagat, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Business Solutions and Chief Information Officer of EMC
- Mike Gioja, Chief Information Officer and SVP of Product Management and Development of Paychex
- Federico Flores Gutierrez, Chief Information and Innovation Officer of Ferrovial
- Celso Guiotoko, Alliance Global Vice President, Corporate Vice President, and Chief Information Officer of Nissan-Renault
- Abe Lietz, Chief Information Officer of Jenny Craig and Curves International
- Mark Dajani, Chief Information and Process Officer of Mondelez International
- Donagh Herlihy, Executive Vice President of Digital and Chief Information Officer of Bloomin’ Brands
- Jack Clare, Chief Information and Strategy Officer of Dunkin’ Brands
- Roger Gurnani, Chief Information and Technology Architect of Verizon Communications
- Ted Colbert, SVP of Information and Analytics and Chief Information Officer of Boeing
- Arne Josefesberg, CIO and Chief Infrastructure Officer of GoDaddy.com
- David Thompson, Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Western Union
- Norm Fjeldheim, CIO and Head of Global Facilities of Illumina
When Norm Fjeldheim joined Illumina as Chief Information Officer and Head of Global Facilities, he did so after one of the longest tenures by a CIO at a single company: 17 years in that role at Qualcomm. Fjeldheim’s tenure at Qualcomm was a success, but he believes now that his tenure was too long. Though he is proud of what he and his team accomplished, he indicates that he could have used more variety to his roles. In the end, though, he is glad that he landed at Illumina, a $2.4 billion provider of sequencing and array-based solutions for genetic analysis.
Fjeldheim has spread his wings beyond the IT leadership to include Facilities Management. As it turns out, this allowed him to return to his roots, as someone who studied architecture for a time as an undergraduate. It also allows him to take a more hands-on role in creating the workspace of the future.
David Thompson, Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Western Union
David Thompson has been the chief information officer at a number of leading companies, including Symantec, Oracle, and PeopleSoft. He has broader responsibilities in his current role as Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Technology and Chief Information Officer at Western Union, the $5.5 billion revenue provider of money movement and payment services based just south of Denver, Colorado. In his role, he is responsible for developing the next generation of payment products and services. He also is responsible for maximizing efficiency, quality, and customer delivery for the company’s global agent network of more than 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories. This puts Thompson squarely in the innovation agenda for the company, helping the organization both grow revenue while also doing so efficiently.
Additionally, given Thompson’s wealth of experience as a technology leader, but also as one who has always thought of the role of CIO as a business role, he has been asked to join the boards of companies. Since 2010, he has served on the board of CoreSite Realty Corporation, a publicly traded an integrated, self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust (REIT).
As such, Thompson is at the forefront of two leading trends for CIOs: he has joined the ranks of the CIO-plus, as well as board-level CIOs. When I recently interviewed him, I was interested in his current sets of responsibilities, and the creative ideas his team is driving, but also his own career path, which represents an aspirational track for other CIOs.
Arne Josefsberg has held a number of technology executive positions in his career. He spent 26 years at Microsoft developing the company’s data center and cloud infrastructure, dating back to the original MSN team and continuing up through Office 365 online service. He spent time as the Chief Technology Officer at ServiceNow. A bit more than two years ago, he joined GoDaddy as its chief infrastructure officer and chief information officer — an important role for the company as it expanded from a US-centric domain registrar to a multi-national cloud-services company for small businesses. During his tenure, the company’s revenue has grown nearly 50 percent to $1.6 billion.
This CIO-plus role that Josefsberg has is part “classic IT,” as he calls it, and part driver of the development of a “globally scalable cloud infrastructure that is high performance and secure that delivers services to our small business customers.” Though his mandate and purview is broader than that of the average CIO, the way he thinks about his role offers insights to all CIOs as they strive to add greater levels of value to their company’s and to the company’s customers.
Ted Colbert has one of the largest roles in IT, that of CIO of $96 billion aerospace and defense giant Boeing. Still in his early 40s, Colbert’s rise has been like a 787 Dreamliner taking flight. He has balanced an innovation and digital transformation agenda while pushing the diverse businesses to do more commonly. In so doing, he has been a driver of both top and bottom line value for the enterprise. At the same time that he has helped the company become more innovative, he has also stewarded in a sophisticated security program. As a reward for his team’s great work, last week, Colbert added the title of SVP of Information and Analytics to his responsibilities as CIO.
Roger Gurnani has been with a Verizon since its inception, and worked for one of the predecessor companies for a while prior to that. As such, he has had a front-row seat in the development of the internet practically since its popular inception. He has been involved in dial-up connectivity through to the fastest wifi connections; he has helped evolve from 1G through 4G phone connectivity, and he and his colleagues are working on 5G at the moment. He has also been involved in digital business in a variety of meaningful ways, including digital streaming of content through practically all functional forms of consumption. Gurnani is now involved in leading one of the biggest Internet of Things implementations in the world, and Verizon is already among the largest revenue companies when it comes to IoT. Earlier this year, Gurnani was promoted from Global CIO to Chief Information and Technology Architect, a role which essentially encompasses both the CIO and the CTO role. As such, the breadth of his purview is massive. He spoke about all of the above in great depth in this interview.
When Jack Clare joined Dunkin’ Brands, holding company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins in 2012, he did so after a stint as CIO of Yum! Restaurants International. He took over a traditional IT function, but two and a half years into his time at Dunkin, there was a need for someone to lead corporate strategy for the company. The leadership team called upon Clare to take on these added responsibilities. The leadership team was impressed with the job he had done as CIO, but also were pleased that he had management consulting experience, and had worked on matters of strategy in his past. The fact that so much of business strategy is enabled by information and technology was an added reason. As such, Clare, now the Chief Information and Strategy Officer of Dunkin’ Brands, is part of a small but growing group of CIOs who have taken over the strategy function. In this interview, he describes the reasons why he feels he got the combined role, the reasons why CEOs he spoke with were not surprised, and his thoughts about whether other CIOs will increasingly follow in his footsteps.
Donagh Herlihy is one of the first Chief Information Officers in the US to take on additional responsibilities. He did so when he took over the Human Resources function at Wrigley while he was still CIO nearly 15 years ago. Since then, he has been the CIO and Vice President of Supply Chain Strategy and Planning at Wrigley, CIO and Senior Vice President of IT and eCommerce at Avon, and now he is the Executive Vice President Digital and CIO at Bloomin’ Brands, which is a $4.5 billion revenue casual dining restaurant company based in Tampa, Florida. Donagh’s catholicity has been remarkable, and he owes it to a combination of good timing, a desire to think of business outcomes first and IT second, and simply putting his hand up to let others know that he had this ambition. He believes others will likely follow in his footsteps, as he notes in this interview, and he offers a variety of lesson for those who wish to do so.
Mondelez International is a $34 billion consumer packaged goods company that was formed in 2012 from what used to be Kraft Foods KRFT +%. Mark Dajani was Mondelez International’s first chief information officer. Though he continues to have this role, his responsibilities have grown to include process ownership (his current title is Chief Information and Process Officer) and Real Estate. He also has significant digital and innovation responsibilities. Ultimately, Dajani sees himself on a path to becoming Chief Change Officer, as embracing and facilitating change are at the heart of all that he does. His augmentation of skills has in part been due to his ability to simplify IT. He does so by eliminating the bottom ten percent of technology each year. In so doing, he ensures that old, unsupported technology is not the norm, and that there are fewer instances of redundant solutions. This is a laudable goal no matter if one wishes to take on more responsibilities or not.
Jenny Craig and Curves came together as part of a private equity buy-out in late 2013. The businesses complement each other in that one (Jenny Craig) focuses on nutrition and diet, and the other (Curves) focuses on exercise. Tying the value proposition together requires leaders who develop enterprise-wide perspectives on customers and how to serve them better. From his post as chief information officer, Abe Lietz has proven to be one such leader. He joined Jenny Craig three years ago. As he explains in my interview with him, as an IT leader, he has pushed to be more customer-facing and cognizant of customer experience than the average CIO. By thinking about business and customer outcomes first, he has pursued technology investments always in support of those needs. In so doing, IT (along with Operations and Marketing) has become a primary driver of customer experience. By demonstrating that he is an executive who can apply glue across this diverse enterprise, Lietz’s responsibilities have grown. He was asked to take on Service Operations, which provides service to customers and to colleagues. In so doing, Lietz and his team are delivering higher value to the combined company and its customers.
Celso Guiotoko’s background is quite diverse. He is half Brazilian and half Japanese. Having a foot in multiple cultures has served him well, especially in his current role as the Alliance Global Vice President, Corporate Vice President, and Chief Information Officer of Global Corporate IS/IT for Renault-Nissan. Guiotoko must balance a number of responsibilities, but he also has to juggle a diverse travel schedule. One of the keys to making this work is to have a solid team in place in each geography, and in each area of responsibility. Guiotoko and his team have also tapped into Silicon Valley, setting up shop there along side the Engineering function’s team there. This innovation lab has helped spur creative thinking around investments into the Internet of Things, and driverless cars, as Guiotoko notes herein.
Federico Florez Gutierrez is the Chief Information and Innovation Officer, and he is also the Global Purchasing Chairman at Ferrovial, an $8 billion Spanish company involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of transport and commercial infrastructures. In his current role he is responsible for IT, innovation, and is the chairman of the purchasing committee at the company. From Flores Gutierrez’s perspective, it is natural that IT leaders should take on responsibilities in areas that have not historically been under IT’s control, as information and technology now are dramatic sources of innovation for any company. IT has a hand in driving both revenue augmentation and cost efficiency. As a result, he believes more IT executives will follow in his footsteps to become a CIO-plus.
Paychex is a $2.5 billion revenue provider of payroll, HR, insurance, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small to medium- sized businesses, and was founded in 1971. The company has more than 100 offices around the Unitedi States as well as locations in Germany and Brazil, and has about 12,700 employees that service 580,000 clients. Mike Gioja joined the company in late 2008 as the vice president of product development and management. He had spent considerable time in product roles at companies like Fidelity, Oracle, Workscape, and HRsoft. He also studied computer science as an undergraduate, and held a number of technical jobs early in his career. As products in the human capital management (among many others) became more driven by technology, Gioja recognized the rising importance of technology, and his IT savvy was an advantage for him. In mid-2011, when the CIO role opened up, Gioja added the IT function to his responsibilities. Among other topics, Gioja talks about the advantage of having the same person in charge of IT and product development and management.
Vic Bhagat held a number of prominent CIO roles at General Electric during a more than 20-year run with the company, including time as CIO of GE Aviation Services, GE Global Growth and Operations, CNBC, GE Corporate, and GE India and Southeast Asia. That breadth of responsibilities fostered an understanding of how IT can add value across industries and geographies. Bhagat also has dealt with most major vendors in the IT community, and has strong feelings about what makes for a strong partnership. All of this has been put to good use since January of 2013, when Bhagat joined EMC as the executive vice president, Enterprise Business Solutions and the chief information officer. The breadth of his responsibilities, which are both internal and external in nature, underscore what a multi-talented IT executive Bhagat is. Now, he works for one of those vendors that he got to know as a buyer of its products and services. He has become an advocate for EMC and an empathetic voice to CIO customers of the company.
With the high profile issues plaguing the technical implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the gulf between those who understand healthcare and those who understand technology has been quite stark. There are precious few CIOs who have a practitioner’s perspective when it comes to healthcare. The stereotype between doctors and nurses and IT executives highlight very different qualities. The former are noted for their interpersonal skills, their ability to listen, while being generally technophobes in practice. The latter have historically been introverted problem solvers who often operated more as order takers rather than as proactive advisors. Each should take attempt to draw from the strengths of the others to become more well-rounded.
Red Wing Shoes has been a well-known brand for over a century especially among those who require the highest quality work boots. For those who do not conduct the sort of work that requires work boots, however, the brand may be more familiar due to the oxfords, chukkas, and the like that are sold as the Red Wing Heritage Collection in partnership with retailers such as Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom, and J. Crew. Joe Topinka brought his size 15 feet to the Minnesota-based shoe company in May of 2008 as the company’s first ever chief information officer. (Foot size is listed on employees’ business cards.) Recognizing the opportunity to leverage technology more creatively to market and sell Red Wing Shoes’ products, Topinka pushed the organization to develop a more creative multichannel commerce strategy. He made the case so effectively that in recent months, he was given responsibility for multichannel commerce for the entire company, taking on a rare but quite logical CIO-plus role that other business-to-consumer companies will likely adopt in the future.
Patty Hatter is the rare CIO-plus who took on CIO responsibilities second. She had worked for a number of technology-centric companies such Bell Labs, AT&T, and Cisco prior to joining McAfee roughly three years ago, but she had held a number of operations roles across her company. In her mind, she was fortunate to take on the CIO role after the operations role because the standardization of processes and insights she drew in the latter greatly impacted the former and made a difficult job a little bit easier. She had two sets of first 100 days within McAfee, and the lessons of her true first 100 days (as operations leader) made the first 100 days as CIO much easier.
Filippo Passerini had a circuitous route to the CIO role, both in terms of functional as well as geographic experience. He rose through the ranks from junior to senior-most positions at P&G beginning in his native Italy through his arrival at P&G’s world headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. He started in IT, but also spent time in marketing and operations roles before becoming CIO. As Passerini notes herein, P&G has a history of hiring CIOs who have traditional business experience in the hopes of having IT run as a typical business function. Passerini continued this tradition, and in 2005, as CIO, he led the integration of Gillette. In 2008, Passerini was also named the president of Global Business Services, and 2011 he was named Group President of Global Business Services. Now with his cross-functional responsibilities, he has developed digital war-room of sorts, assembling an assortment of leading edge analytics capabilities to enable the $84 billion colossus to make better decisions, drawing insights from across geographies, product segments, business functions and the like. As such, his organization has managed the “big data” conundrum as well as any organization in the world.
Karl Salnoske, the Executive Vice President of Service Delivery and CIO at GXS, a global leader in B2B integration, had a very diverse set of experiences prior to becoming a CIO. He had been a consultant at McKinsey, he had spent time as a general manager in IBM’s Software Solutions, and he had been the president and CEO of a start-up that provided the next generation in decision optimization tools to help customers in the energy and process industries reduce costs and maximize revenues. That company, Adaptive Trade, was acquired by B2eMarkets in 2004, and it was soon thereafter that he began his first ever stint as a CIO at Schering-Plough, where he would remain for over five years. Salnoske is the first of the CIO-pluses profiled herein who joined his company as a CIO-plus. The job was not initially specified as a CIO-plus role, however. In fact, Salnoske, leveraging his skills as an expert in diagnosing problems to identify that the company needed someone who would oversee a broader variety of divisions of the company to get to the root cause of an issue that had been labeled as an operations problem, as he explains at some length herein.
Tim Theriault’s title is more than a mouthful, but it befits the many responsibilities he has at Walgreens. He is the Chief Information, Innovation, and Improvement Officer of the $72 billion pharmaceutical retailer. In that role, Theriault is responsible for all of IT, but also “Big I” and “little i” innovations, as he explains herein, centered on revenue enhancement and cost reduction. It is not a surprise that Theriault would add revenue and costs reduction responsibilities to his role as CIO since he was once the chief technology officer of Northern Trust Bank, but then rose to the role of president of the bank’s corporate and institutional services business. He now finds himself squarely in the middle of a major healthcare transformation that the company is in the throes of, and sees creative use of information and technology as a key component of that transformation.
Of the CIO-pluses that have been profiled thus far, none were hired into their roles as CIO-pluses. Eight of the ten were CIOs first, and then added additional responsibilities. It made me curious whether there are companies that are starting to think about CIO-pluses as they embark on the hiring process. I reached out to Matt Aiello for the answer. Matt is a partner in the CIO/CTO practice at Heidrick & Struggles. As a CIO/CTO recruiter, he has placed more than seventy IT executives into companies that span most industries. From his perch, he sees a rising appetite for CIOs to be hired with the plus. He explains this in my interview with him herein.
Upon meeting him, you would not necessarily guess that Bill Schlough collects jewelry, but he is the proud owner of two of the most coveted rings in America: World Series Championship rings that he earned as CIO of the San Francisco Giants, garnered after the 2010 and 2012 teams won it all. For our baseball fan readers, please try to push past the jealousy to understand the many interesting aspects of Schlough’s story. He graduated from Duke with an engineering degree and has an MBA from Wharton, and has been working in sports since World Cup USA 1994, the biggest soccer tournament in the world. He worked at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, and landed as the CIO of the San Francisco Giants in 1999, giving him an impressively long tenure in that role. Schlough’s “plus” came as he and his colleagues with the Giants saw an opportunity to increase the synergies between the Major League team and the Class-A affiliate San Jose Giants. He first joined San Jose as interim-CEO on a six month stint starting in August of 2011. He has continued on as Chairman of that club, identifying more opportunities to collaborate, grow the business and leverage technology for player development purposes along the way, as he mentions in my interview with him below.
Praveen Chopra worked in supply chain in consulting for Accenture, and at The Home Depot for a number of years before early 2005 when he took over that function for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a nearly $2 billion pediatric healthcare group with three hospitals and 17 neighborhood locations in Greater Atlanta. As he recognized that the success of supply chain was increasingly dependent on system integration, data integrity, and other key aspects typically run by the IT department, he determined that tight integration between IT and supply chain was a must. After a series of conversations with the CFO of the company, Chopra took over responsibility of IT as the CIO in early 2006, while keeping his supply chain responsibilities. He had a deep foundation in technology dating back to his undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering, but continuing through to his deep collaborations with CIOs over the years. As a result, Chopra was able to transition successfully to the CIO-plus role, and to garner tremendous value at the nexus between IT and supply chain, as he highlights in the interview below.
Automatic Data Processing’s Mike Capone is someone who has long had a foot in information technology and a foot in the business. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but he also has an MBA. He spent time as a vice president of IT at ADP, but he went on to be a General Manager of a global HR & payroll outsourcing business within the company. In July 2008, he became ADP’s first ever global Chief Information Officer. When he took on that role, he did so as a business executive would, however. He pushed IT ever closer to the rest of the organization. He developed a mandate for innovation during the heart of the economic malaise. He also accompanied sales executives on sales calls with customers, and pushed his team to do the same. In so doing, IT’s value to the company grew. Therefore, in the second half of 2012, Capone added the role of Corporate Vice President of Product Development to his CIO title, adding a very business-centric role to his one in IT. His is an example of an IT executive who successfully amplifies the value of IT to the point where it is only logical that he take over a key business role. As Capone points out in my interview with him, nearly all ADP products have IT components to them, so having an executive who oversees both worlds provides tremendous synergy and efficiency.
Ben Allen has had an unusual path to his current role as chief information officer and chief innovation officer at Marsh & McLennan. He rose to the role of president and chief executive officer of Kroll, Inc., which was an operating company within Marsh & McLennan until it was sold by that company to Altegrity, Inc. in August 2010. Soon after the divestiture, Allen re-joined Marsh & McLennan with the first of his CIO titles, that of chief innovation officer. He was the first person to hold that title in the company. A large portion of his responsibilities were centered on facilitating greater collaboration and value creation from across the company. Interestingly enough, that is a role the best chief information officers play, as they have reason to collaborate with leaders of each business unit and division of a company often in ways that those leaders do not with each other. These similarities were not lost on Allen, who assumed his second CIO role, that of chief information officer, less than a year after his return to Marsh & McLennan.
David Johns has been CIO of Owens Corning since 1994, which is extraordinary considering the average tenure of CIOs today is roughly four years. In that time, he has had multiple “pluses” to his CIO role. He is currently the Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer, and Chief Shared Services Officer. Prior to his current role, he was Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Supply Chain Officer. He also led the Owens Corning Technology Center as Chief Technology Officer for a time. Johns’ experience at Owens Corning highlights how solid work done in transforming IT, developing shared services or centers of excellence can yield value that translates to other parts of the organization quite well. Especially since the economic malaise began in earnest in 2008, a number of leading CIOs have seized the opportunity to develop shared services have have yielded more efficiencies and value for their companies in the process. There is no reason why this should not be done in other parts of the organization as well. The best CIOs, like Johns, realize that they are ideally equipped to lead this in other parts of the organization, as is highlighted in my interview with him below.
Information Technology and Human Resources are corporate divisions that have been quite different historically. When Ameristar Casinos CIO Sheleen Quish was asked to take over Human Resources as well, it might have seemed to be a strange combination, but always an autodidact, she threw herself into her new role, and uncovered many similarities between these traditionally disparate departments. In the process, she transformed each to be more proactive, more consultative, and more cognizant of its contribution to the overall value to the company. As it turns out, Quish has long looked to have a broad set of responsibilities, and has constantly sought opportunities to broaden the value she could offer to each company for which she has worked. In the process, she has become a model CIO-plus.
This is the fifth article in the CIO-plus series, covering CIOs whose roles have been augmented due to the good work they did first and foremost as CIOs, but also recognizing that the good work translated into other areas. I recently spoke with Chris Scalet, the former executive vice president, Global Services, and Chief Information Officer at Merck & Co., Inc. as part of the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. Scalet developed one of the first shared services organizations at Merck when he centralized infrastructure, yielding a nine-figure savings per year in the process. The CEO of the company was sufficiently impressed that he asked Scalet to do the same in other parts of the company. Scalet began with Human Resources and with Finance, but eventually took responsibility for a wider array of functions. Scalet humbly surmises that the path he pursued should be accessible and achievable by most CIOs, no matter the industry, though he readily admits that the devil is in the details.
Randy Spratt runs information technology for the largest company in the largest sector of the largest economy on earth. For most of the last decade, he has served as Chief Information Officer for the $123 billion healthcare behemoth, McKesson Corporation (NYSE: MCK), and in 2009, he assumed the Chief Technology Officer responsibilities. To the uninitiated, the CIO/CTO dual role may seem less dynamic than some other CIO-plus combinations we have covered and will yet cover in this series. However, that analysis would be wrong as Spratt tells us, these are distinct responsibilities, and they reflect both sides of the information technology landscape which become more complex the larger the company is.
In a recent article, I mentioned the trend in companies around the US and beyond of expanding the CIO’s responsibilities based on the translation of good work done in IT into other divisions and departments in the company. I refer to this phenomenon as the CIO-plus role. I kicked off the series last week with an interview with Puneet Bhasin, the Senior Vice President – Technology, Logistics and Customer Service, Chief Information Officer of Waste Management. This week, I am delighted to continue the series with Chris Laping, the Senior Vice President of Business Transformation and Chief Information Officer of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (NASDAQ: RRGB). Laping has what I believe to be the ideal background for a CIO. He has an engineering degree as an undergraduate, an MBA, he spent time as a consultant, and though he is not yet 40, he has been a CIO for ten years. He joined Red Robin as CIO in June of 2007, and after transforming that organization, added the role of SVP of Business Transformation to his title in February of 2011, noting that the company hoped that his “transformation” activities would not be limited to IT. Now it seems that each analyst call that Red Robin CEO Stephen Carley leads features initiatives that Laping and his team leads or co-leads, such as the development of the Red Royalty customer loyalty program that he oversaw in concert with the company’s CMO, which has contributed substantial sales lift in those stores where it has been fully implemented.
I am delighted to kick off the series with an interview I recently conducted with Puneet Bhasin of Waste Management. Although Bhasin does have an engineering degree, he did not spend the early part of his career in IT departments. He was a consultant and a business executive prior to becoming CIO of Ryder TRS. Just prior to joining Waste Management, he had held a CIO-plus role of sorts at Monster Worldwide, as he was SVP, Product & Technology & CIO, North America. Bhasin joined Waste Management in December 2009 as CIO. As he explains in our interview, it was based on some early insights that he determined that Waste Management needed to formalize its logistics business, and he became the first leader of that business. A few months ago, he added Customer Service responsibilities, and thus he is now the Senior Vice President – Technology, Logistics and Customer Service, Chief Information Officer of Waste Management.
As IT leaders become much more business-centric in terms of their skillset, they have been asked to assume additional responsibilities beyond their traditional IT roles. The reasons are varied, but it is at least partially due to the fact that IT is one of the few (some argue the only) departments that understand business processes from end-to-end. Moreover, IT leaders must speak with peers in the c-suite or heads of business units about their plans and strategies. Clever IT executives recognize that this puts them in an ideal position to identify themes from across the organization and suggest single solutions to address multiple needs while fostering greater collaboration across the company. Lastly, as CIOs and their teams develop competencies related to people management, governance, security, procurement, vendor management among many other topics, these are areas of expertise that apply to other parts of the organization as well.