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Forbes CIO-Plus Series: Puneet Bhasin, Waste Management

Technology, Logistics, and Customer service under one roof? In the first interview of the CIO-Plus series, Peter High speaks with the Senior Vice President – Technology, Logistics and Customer Service, Chief Information Officer of Waste Management, Puneet Bhasin.

by Peter High, published on Forbes.com

11-26-2012

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.

Today, 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.

Peter High:
Puneet, you do not have a traditional IT background.  How did you find your way into IT?

Puneet Bhasin:

Early in my career, I ran a consultancy that focused on developing optimization and decision support systems using Operations Research and Statistical methods.  These optimization models were the engine driving key decisions for many of my clients.  However, what my clients were also looking for were the “applications” that made these models easy to use and integrate into their operations.  It was this client need that introduced me to Information Technology.  Over time, the IT component of my consultancy became larger than the modeling aspect and I developed a keen understanding of the power of technology.  By the time I became CIO at Ryder, I had led significant IT projects across a wide spectrum of functional areas that had both a top line and a bottom line impact.

Peter High:

If I understand it correctly, you made a significant career decision in joining Waste Management. Is that right?

Puneet Bhasin:

That’s true. When a recruiter approached me, I was quite happy at Monster Worldwide – in addition to managing Technology I was also running Product Management and Product Marketing.  However, Waste Management piqued my curiosity and I met  with our CEO, Dave Steiner.  We absolutely hit it off.  Waste Management is a large, Fortune 200, financially strong company with 22 million customers and 20,000 trucks.  In many respects it is a logistics and energy company rather than a garbage company. Dave told me about the business opportunities within the organization, and I talked about the role that IT could play in addressing those opportunities.   As we talked more, I realized how interesting a company it was, and the profound role IT could play in taking the company to the next level.

Additional questions in the article include:

  • Not long into your tenure, you also became the head of Waste Management Logistics.  How did that opportunity present itself?
  • You recently added Customer Service to your responsibilities, as you are now the CIO and Senior Vice President – Technology, Logistics and Customer Service.  What was the logic in adding those responsibilities?
  • How do the IT, Customer Service and Logistics pieces work together, and what value has been created at the nexus of this relationship?
To read the full interview, please visit Peter High’s Technovation Column on Forbes.com.
To explore the rest of the CIO-plus series, please click here.
To read past pieces in the Technovation Column, please click here.
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