Excerpt from the Article:
Novelis is a leading producer of rolled aluminum, and a global leader in aluminum recycling. The company’s aluminum is used in everything from automobiles to architecture to beverage cans to consumer electronics. Much of the company’s aluminum is re-created from material already in the world today, saving natural resources and allowing for the creation of consumer products that have a lower environmental footprint. Through its recycling leadership, what would have otherwise been discarded becomes the material for new creation.
Despite attaining more than $10 billion in revenue with more than 10,000 employees, the company never had a CIO prior to the incumbent, Karen Renner, who joined nearly five years ago. Renner had been a CIO at multiple units within General Electric, and as such was used to process excellence. What she found at Novelis was an IT department in need of new, standardized processes. As she discusses with CIO Insight contributor, Peter High, the journey has been a fruitful one.
CIO Insight: You are the first CIO in the company’s history. The company grew to a tremendous size before hiring a CIO. Why was that, and what led to the conclusion that one was needed?
Renner: In order to deliver on many of Novelis’ transformation strategies, an overhaul of the information technology and data was required. The information infrastructure was unable to meet the aggressive expansions required to enter and provide the data streams required for the automotive market. We also needed modern technology to support our employees working across geographies and to meet growing demands for mobility and collaboration technologies. In order to develop and execute a global IT strategy taking into account the varying regional requirements, the CIO role was created.
CIO Insight: How would you describe the culture of the IT team when you joined, and what have you done to change it?
Renner: We have an excellent team of IT professionals at Novelis with a great mix of technical business process knowledge and program management skills. We act as one team and trusted advisors to deliver best-fit information technology solutions that people value and enjoy using. The biggest cultural shift was to broaden the reach of the team to think bigger and broader–how technology can influence outside of a local requirement to our regions or globally.
CIO Insight: I imagine there was a good deal of foundational investments that were necessary in the early days. How did you prioritize and what did you prioritize to do first?
Renner: We had three transformation work streams that we started simultaneously: 1. infrastructure, 2. business process automation and simplification and 3. collaboration and workforce mobility.
As many of the programs were interconnected, we built a high level, integrated plan that enabled us to understand the dependencies. The demand for new systems, processes and tools was incredible—our prioritization strategy was completely aligned to the overall Novelis strategy.