McAfee Executive First Transforms Operations And Then IT
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.
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Peter High: Patty, you have had two different first 100 days at McAfee. You were the Senior Vice President of Operations starting three years ago, and then became CIO two years ago. What did you do commonly across each of those experiences, and were there any things that you learned in your time in the early stages of your first role that you brought to your second?
Patty Hatter: We were actually in a very different situation within that one year span. When I first joined McAfee as SVP of Operations, we had multiple challenges. We had challenges with the level of service we were providing, cost challenges, challenges between Operations and IT, and more broadly between all of the business functions and IT. Even with all of that work that was in front of us at the time, we were lucky because the culture of our organization was very open to change. That was the critical ingredient in getting our efforts started that first year. So in those first 100 days, my priorities were to leverage the willingness for change that we had, and engage our employees, at all levels and in each of our geographies, in both coming up with the improvement suggestions, as well as helping to drive those changes forward. Within that first year, we improved our business metrics and our velocity in creating change. A key part of that was being able to engage our employee base, shown by more than a 50% increase in our employee engagement score the first year, which has taken us to world class engagement scores.
After my first year at McAfee when I took on the additional role as CIO, an important advantage that I had was the strong cross-functional relationships that I had developed with the other business function leaders. Since I had previously been a ‘customer’ of IT with my Operations role, I knew the reputation of the IT organization was not positive, and that there was not a productive or trusting relationship between IT and the business functions. That’s where I was able to leverage the relationships that I had developed with the other business leaders over the prior year. These relationships were critical in quickly getting a much more open and transparent dialogue between all of the teams in order to drive to agreement on priorities and to smooth project execution. Additionally, within my first 100 days, I focused on meeting the IT staff and understanding our skill set. I was very pleased to discover that we had a very talented and passionate IT team. Our challenge was getting the right people in the leadership positions across IT, so that we could unleash the talent that we already had in the organization. Within that first 100 days, I started a series of organizational changes at the leadership level. We continued to refine the leadership team during that first year.
Additional topics covered in the article include:
- Can you talk about your responsibilities in the SVP of Operations role, and how you ended up taking over the CIO portfolio as well?
- What was the impetus for thinking about things more commonly?
- What are some examples of processes that you optimized?
- Were there advantages to not having grown up in an IT department before being CIO?
- At McAfee, you are part of a company that is both a B2C as well as a B2B organization. When it’s a B2B proposition, often times the customer is your peer in that organization. To what extent do you get involved in selling to CIOs or IT departments?
- Security is such a hot topic, and you work for one of the leading companies in this space. What is your assessment of the competitive landscape, and McAfee’s role in it?
- Security and innovation are often thought of as being at odds, as conversations about security are often about mitigating risk, and conversations about innovation are often about taking risks. What is your perspective on the balance of security versus innovation?
- How do you manage the broad team that makes up your organization?
- How do you measure the effectiveness of your teams?