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One Of The Earliest Board-Level CIOs Reflects On Her Journey

7/02/18

By Peter High. Published on Forbes

Cathie Kozik is the Chief Information Officer of PSAV, which is an 81 year old events management company that helps bring to life roughly one million events per year. She was a CIO of Tellabs in the 1990s into the last decade, and went on to become an IT executive at Motorola, as well. In 2001, she became one of the earliest board-level CIOs when she joined the board of an individual hospital that would grow through acquisition to become $5 billion Northwestern Memorial Health. She did not set out to be a trailblazer, but now that she has been for 17 years, she has a variety of lessons to share with other CIOs who’d wish to follow in her footsteps.

Her breadth of experience as a CIO and as a board member have helped her with the current transformation she has led at PSAV for the past three and a half years. She has pushed IT to go from roadblock to strategic enabler for the business. She now leads a digital transformation, which is focused on the technician experience and business insight through data analytics. Her vast experience has earned her a spot in CIO.com’s prestigious CIO Hall of Fame.

Peter High: You are the Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President at PSAV. Could you provide a background as to PSAV’s business and your role in it?

Cathie Kozik: PSAV is the world’s largest event experiences company. We see our role as connecting with and inspiring our customers, so they can connect with and inspire their audiences. We help our customers around the globe put together different event experiences, then enable them to reach out to their audiences in new and different ways. It is a great and exciting business to be in as we are always doing something different. We put on about 1,500 different shows per day and more than a million over the course of a year.

As CIO, my role has been to help bring the organization into the next generation and prepare us for growth. We have been on a great trajectory as we have acquired a substantial number of companies over the past five to ten years. Despite this, between the acquisitions and organic growth, the business system had not kept up with what the business was trying to accomplish. Therefore, when I joined the company three years ago, my core focus was about stabilizing the environment and then bringing new technology to bear. It has been about bringing the company into the information age where technology is an enabler as opposed to something that was preventing the business from getting its job done. As we continue to grow, digital transformation is impacting us just as it is impacting every other company in the industries that we serve. Because of this, we have to make sure that we are keeping pace and are thinking about new technologies that can not only improve our operational efficiency and our interactions with our customers, but also improve the event experiences that have been part of the innovation cycle that we have been on. For example, we have focused on mobility as approximately 95 percent of our employees are out in the field. We need to make sure that we are communicating with these employees. They need to know what to expect for the day, what customers are coming in, and what these customers past experiences have been with us. We need to communicate with these employees so that we can ensure that today’s experience with PSAV is just as great or even greater than the last experience. Additionally, if something goes wrong, it is important that we know about it. We have to talk to the customer as we know them and support them in the ways they are expecting. For example, we need to ensure that a customer who is expecting a high-resolution projector, gets that high-resolution projector. We need to make certain that they get the right experience that they need for their customers.

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