Technovation with Peter High - 377 Interviews and Podcasts

Welcome to the Technovation with Peter High, a collection of exclusive interviews with Chief Information Officers and other IT industry thought leaders. Learn from the experts on how best to establish a truly World Class IT organization.

Tom Nealon
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June 16, 2014: Tom Nealon, Board Member at Southwest Airlines and Fossil Group

Among other topics, Tom discusses the following issues with Metis Strategy:

  • Tom’s journey from company to company and what led him to become a CIO and a member of the Board of Directors and his emphasis of being a “business guy specializing in technology.”
  • The uniqueness of Tom’s background always having technology being a part of his life but not necessarily having the requisite technology background and instead having a business background.
  • How Tom, as an IT executive, ended up taking on the responsibility of corporate strategy – a traditionally very “business” role.
  • The value from the perspective gained from being on a management team and a Board of Directors simultaneously.
  • Tom’s belief in being driven, motivated and curious about the work one does and not specifically being ambitious to achieve a specific title or board position.
  • Eye on the trends: The growing importance of and requirement for CIOs gaining a business understanding and driving towards being business leaders with deep technology understanding rather than being technology specialists working with the business.

Tom Nealon’s Biography

Tom is a member of the Board of Directors of Southwest Airlines Co., a role he has held since December 1, 2010. On April 16, 2012, he also began serving as a member on the Board of Directors of the Fossil Group Inc. Tom was also the Group Executive Vice President of J.C. Penney, a role he assumed after having spent time as EVP and CIO.  During his tenure with the company, he oversaw all of information technology including the design and ongoing development of systems and infrastructure to support the long-range plan and strategic business objectives. He also led the development of innovative technological and process improvements across J. C. Penney to improve customer experience and increase efficiency.

Before his time at J. C. Penney, Tom served as the Senior Vice-President of Technology and Chief Information Officer of Southwest Airlines Co. At Southwest, he led the transformation of their technology organization and the improvement of all business processes surrounding customer interactions. His initiatives caused significant technology-driven improvements across most of the business from ground and flight operations to maintenance and engineering, schedule planning and even southwest.com.

Prior to his time at Southwest, Tom was a partner with the Feld Group, a position he undertook after spending time as the CIO of Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo.

Tom received the 2010 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Award for Innovation Leadership and was recognized by Information Week as a “Premiere 100 CIO” in 2007. He has also served as a MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Award Judge since 2012.

Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Villanova University and an MBA from the University of Dallas.

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview