Global Partners CIO Helps The Company Go From $6 Billion In Revenues To $18 Billion In Four Years
When Ken Piddington joined Global Partners as the firm’s first-ever chief information officer four years ago, the Waltham, MA-based energy supply business was already a major corporation with revenues of roughly $6 billion, yet the company had thrived without the benefit of a CIO. Leadership realized that it had reached a tipping point in its business where information technology needed to be managed much more strategically than it had been previously. In the years since, revenues have tripled to nearly $18 billion. Recognizing that the company’s growth would be fueled by acquisitions, he built a playbook to ensure that IT could respond efficiently to support those acquisitions. He also variabilized the cost structure of IT to a much greater extent using cloud technologies and an ecosystem of vendor partners so that he could support the growth of the company seamlessly. Where many IT departments can become victims of a company’s success, with systems and hardware that is not flexible enough to grow quickly in an efficient manner, this was an objective of Piddington’s from the outset.
(This is the fourth article in the “CIO’s First 100 Days” series. For a link to each of the prior three articles, please visit this link. For updates on future articles in the series with CIOs from companies like Intel, Johnson & Johnson, J. Crew, AmerisourceBergen, Cox Communications, and Amtrak, please click the Follow link above.)
Peter High: Ken, you were the first ever CIO of Global Partners. How did you prepare in light of the lack of a predecessor?
Ken Piddington: I did have an advantage of having already been a consultant for Global so I already knew a lot of the inner workings of the organization. That being said I approached the preparation for the new role as if I had not. My initial preparation was about the collection of information necessary to successfully perform the responsibilities of the CIO and specifically achieve the goals set for me. I needed to be able to hit the ground running. There were eight areas of information I collected a part of my preparation;
- Organization business and business strategy
- Business drivers, differentiators and competition
- Organization culture, reporting lines, role of and expectations from IT
- IT budget, processes and financial status
- Current issues and problems
- In progress projects and initiatives
- IT portfolio landscape, vendors and infrastructure
Additional topics covered in the article include:
- What sort of IT resources were there when you arrived as a consultant to the company?
- Why had they gone so long without a CIO, and what triggered the change to hire one?
- How long did it take before you had a workable IT strategy?
- What were some of the early initiatives you pursued that commenced in the first 100 days?
- What did you find lacking in terms of skills and roles on your team that you hired for first?
- You have been at the company during a period of tremendous growth. In the first 100 days, anticipating this growth, how did you determine that you plan for the IT department the company would need in a few years as opposed to the one it needed right away?
- Were there key partners in Global who you leaned on in the early days for advice?
- How did you measure whether you were making appropriate progress in your first 100 days