Leading Women in Technology Series Summary in Forbes

March 28, 2015
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The Leading Women in Technology series is an opportunity to look at the many extraordinary technology executives and innovators who have been featured in the Technovation column.

By Peter High, series on Forbes.com

This is the introduction article to the Leading Women in Technology that I have profiled across more than 200 contributions to Forbes.  My team has had a chance to slice and dice the data behind the many extraordinary technology executives and innovators who have been featured in my Technovation column since October of 2012, and there were some particularly interesting conclusions that developed based on the women executives who have been featured. These are the women in technology positions who are leading and how they are succeeding.

In the summary article of this series, I highlight some common traits among these trailblazers:

1. Female CIOs tend to be autodidacts when it comes to IT
2. Female CIOs have more customer-facing experiences outside of IT than their male counterparts
3. Female CIOs advanced with few female role models
4. Female CIOs are often talent magnets
5. Several Female CIOs have emerged from financial or supply chain backgrounds

Below are the Leading Women in Technology Series’ most recent posts:

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Susan Swart, CIO, International Monetary Fund

When Susan Swart joined the International Monetary Fund as the Chief Information Officer and Associate Director of Technology & General Services Department in June of 2012, she was only the second CIO of the institution. Though the purview of the IMF is global, most of her team is centralized in Washington, DC. She and her team have worked to modernize the IT department’s processes and technologies during her tenure. This came after a four year tenure as CIO of the United States Department of State. All the while, she has served as an inspiration to other women who might wish to follow in her footsteps. We discuss all of the above and more below.

Click here for the full article

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Maran Nelson, Founder & CEO of Clara Labs

I first learned of Clara Labs co-founder and CEO Maran Nelson when she was among those noted as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Pioneering Woman:Forbes 30 under 30 Pioneering Woman. When a member of her extended communications team named Justin suggested I meet her, I told him that I would be in San Francisco – where Clara Labs is based – on a certain date. The next email I received was from Clara, herself. The message read,

Hi Justin, Thanks! I’ll get this set up with Peter.

Hi Peter, Happy to help get a meeting on the calendar for you and Maran.

Can you meet at Stable Cafe (2128 Folsom Street, San Francisco) on Friday (Sep 23) at 10am or Monday (Sep 26) at 11am PDT?

Also, what’s the best number for Maran to reach you? I’ll add it to the calendar event description for reference.

Best,

Clara

 I wrote Clara back thanking her for her help, confirming the time slot at one of the locations, while working out some other details. It took me a moment to remember that Clara is the AI. Our back and forth, which included further confirmation of details was remarkably lifelike.

Clara Labs was a Y Combinator company that now boasts the likes of Sequoia Capital as investors.

There is a lot written about the paucity of women founders of Silicon Valley companies, for good reason. I was interested in learning more about what drew Nelson to entrepreneurship, why she focused on a digital personal assistant platform, and how she sees the offering evolving. We covered all of that in more in this interview.

Click here for the full article

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Daniela Rus, Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is the largest on-campus laboratory as measured by research scope and membership. More than 250 companies have been hatched through CSAIL, including Akamai, iRobot, 3Com, and Meraki. CSAIL’s research activities are divided into seven areas of emphasis:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computational biology
  • Graphics and vision
  • Language and learning
  • Theory of computation
  • Robotics
  • Systems

CSAIL’s Director is Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a 2002 MacArthur Fellow. She is the first female head of CSAIL, a distinction she has used to help inspire other women to follow in her footsteps into the fields emphasized by the laboratory. From her post, she has been able to witness and influence a number of rising trends in technology that are driving the current digital revolution, all of which we cover in this interview.

Click here for the full article

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Anne Margulies, Chief Information Officer of Harvard University

Anne Margulies is the Chief Information Officer of perhaps the best known university on earth, Harvard University. She has been an education technology pioneer for much longer, however. She was the founding Executive Director of MIT OpenCourseWare, the internationally acclaimed initiative to publish the teaching materials for their entire curriculum openly and freely over the Internet. As such, she was involved in some of the earliest precursors of today’s MOOCs.

It should come as no surprise that Marguilies was intricately involved in HarvardX, Harvard’s contribution to edX. For her own team, she has developed what she calls the IT Academy, aggregating training materials to provide common IT skills across her entire department. Therefore, Margulies is a remarkably innovative CIO, especially when it comes to training and education.

Click here for the full article

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Marcy Klevorn, Chief Information Officer of Ford Motor Company

As I have interviewed IT leaders at many companies, there are a handful of companies that seem to have the biggest family trees in producing CIO talent. Few can match Ford Motor Company’s family tree. The CIOs at Boeing and Nike and executives above the CIO rank at Biogen and Deutsche Bank have each spent time in the IT department at Ford. I was curious about this phenomenon, but especially curious to hear from Marcy Klevorn, who for some time had been groomed to become the global CIO of Ford. Her highly regarded predecessor, Nick Smither identified her as a successor and then provided the kinds of opportunities for her in multiple units and geographies to ensure she would have depth and breadth of experience.

Since ascending to the top role in IT a bit more than a year ago, Klevorn has bolstered the IT strategy process and content, she has helped weave IT further into the narrative of customer experience and IoT trends that are important to the industry. All the while, she has used her love of cars as inspiration for new ideas on how IT can make Ford continue to improve.

Click here for the full article

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Kim Stevenson, Chief Information Officer of Intel

Kim Stevenson has been the CIO of Intel for the past four years. As I have noted in the past, she has dramatically increased the value derived from IT by adopting the practices of the more traditional revenue centers of the company. One of the best examples of this is the development of an IT annual report that mirrors that of the company as a whole. (Check out her latest IT annual report here.) The theme of her latest annual report is “Intel: From the Backroom to the Boardroom.” This refers to IT’s becoming more relevant to the board of the company, but it is also a good summation of her own career in recent years.

Since becoming CIO, Stevenson has been on the boards of multiple companies including her current appointment to the board of Cloudera. Many CIOs wish to join boards these days, and Stevenson offers sage advice on way sin which others might follow in her footsteps. It begins by performing well internally, being transparent, and, if you truly wish to be a board-level CIO, making that known with anyone who might aid you in that process.

Click here to read the full article

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Lidia Fonseca, Chief Information Officer of Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics is a $7.5 billion provider of diagnostic testing information services. It collects vast amounts of data: twenty billion test results, one hundred fifty million medical test requisitions in 2014, and testing services that touch about one third of the adults in the US. It is up to Lidia Fonseca, Quest Diagnostics’ CIO to organize, tag, and structure the data so that the company can turn information into insights and insights into actions. By effectively categorizing and partitioning the data, the big data conundrum has turned into a massive opportunity for the company, and it has also made that data much more secure.

Fonseca’s depth of experience in data analytics, security, and developing innovations that are leading to revenue augmentation have brought her to the attention of those who need that experience at the board level. In July of 2014, she joined the board of Gannett, a $2.9 billion international media and marketing solutions company. In this interview, she discusses all the above and more, and toward the end of the interview, provides insights into how she successfully became a board-level CIO.

Click here to read the full article

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Amy Doherty, Chief Information Officer of AARP

Amy Doherty was a four year veteran and right hand woman of the CIO of AARP when she was tapped to become interim-CIO in March of 2015. Her predecessor, Terry Bradwell, was elevated to a newly created role of Chief Enterprise Strategy & Innovation Officer of the membership organization for people age 50 and over that operates as a non-profit advocate for its members and is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States. Following a highly regarded leader who would remain at the firm meant that there was not a mandate for tremendous change, but nevertheless, Doherty got to work at creating her own vision and leadership style.

She has focused continuing the evolution of IT into a value creator and innovator within AARP. She has creatively built bonds and lines of communications with her team through regular meetings with everyone on the team to better understand how things are progressing. Year over year delivery of projects is up ninety-six percent , and there have been thirty-four percent fewer outages. As Doherty notes in this interview, it is the cultural work that has been the secret weapon in her arsenal by driving engagement, accountability, and fun in the department. AARP leadership was sufficiently impressed by the progress to remove the “interim” title in October.

Click here to read the full article

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Cynthia Stoddard, Chief Information Officer of Netapp

Like the rest of NetApp, Cynthia Stoddard’s IT team has been part of a major transformation at the company in recent years. Stoddard has been the Chief Information Officer of NetApp for nearly four years, and has helped evolve the “NetApp on NetApp” program such that IT tests products, processes, and procedures before customers, providing insights to the Engineering team, and allowing the IT team to be advocates on the company’s behalf with customers. Stoddard estimates that she spends roughly 30 percent of her time with customers. The combination of these activities have primed IT to become a source of innovation for the company, as well.

The NetApp Innovation Lab includes multiple people from IT who help test new technologies and think of new wrinkles to existing solutions. The team has generated significant value in this process.

Despite going through a trying transformation, the company continues to invest mightily in its people, providing technical and leadership training for those who seek it, ensuring that the next round of leaders of the company are groomed well in advance of their promotion.

Click here to read the full article

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Sophie Vandebroek, Chief Technology Officer of Xerox and President of the Xerox Innovation Group

Sophie Vandebroek has been with Xerox for 25 years, and in that time has seen tremendous change. The one-time elite brand went through a period in the woods, so to speak, and now Sophie (among others) have helped the company return to its innovative roots.  As company’s chief technology officer, and as the President of Xerox Innovation Group, she has put a lot of thought both into what has made the company special at its core and from its founding, while incorporating in new methods such as developing “dreaming sessions” in which Xerox employees and customers dream up new ideas without the constraints of what is possible today. She also indicates that innovators must have fun at work, as well as leading balanced lives.

Vandebroek is also one of several examples of female executives. It continues to be rare in technology companies to have CTOs and innovation heads who are women. Vandebroek has spearheaded diversity programs at the company, and she has employed a variety of creative methods to ensure that female technical leaders continue to be found and groomed for leadership. She discusses all the above and more herein.

Click here to read the full article

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Linda Clement-Holmes, Chief Information Officer of Procter & Gamble

Like many executives at Procter & Gamble, Linda Clement-Holmes has had a wide array of responsibilities at the $76 billion Cincinnati, Ohio-based consumer packaged goods company. She has been the chief diversity officer, the senior vice president of global business services, and the global information & decision solutions officer. This is emblematic of the way in which P&G thinks about talent management. Once a rising star has been identified, provide them both depth and breadth of experience. When Clement-Holmes became CIO, she had been groomed for years for this post, and came to it with a much deeper understanding of how value is created within her enterprise than most new CIOs.

Clement-Holmes managed a rare feat for a new CIO, as well, as she was already a board member of a multi-billion dollar public company, Cincinnati Financial Corporation,before she became chief information officer. For those who might wish to follow in her footsteps, she attributes not only the diversity of her experiences within P&G, but also her willingness to spend time on non-profit boards in preparing her for her for-profit board experience. Clement-Holmes goes on to describe the substance of her first IT strategy as CIO, the methods she has used to encourage future female leaders in IT and beyond, and the technology trends that particularly excite her.

Click here to read the full article

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Andi Karaboutis, Executive Vice President of Technology and Business Solutions of Biogen

When I last spoke with Andi Karaboutis a little over a year ago, she was the CIO of Dell. Shortly after we spoke, she moved to $10 billion, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm, Biogen as the Executive Vice President of Technology and Business Solutions, a role definitively above the CIO role. She also joined the board of Advance Auto Parts, the $10 billion provider of automotive aftermarket parts based in Roanoke, Virginia.

I was interested to learn how Karaboutis managed the transition to a new, dynamic industry, to a broader set of responsibilities, what those responsibilities entailed, and how she pursued the path to board membership. Exemplifying the best characteristics of curious and humble autodidact, Karaboutis realized that she needed to learn the language of biotechnology so that she could speak lucidly with her new colleagues about the opportunities they hoped to seize and the issues they hoped to resolve. She also recognized that with her growing responsibilities coupled with her being on the audit committee of the Advance Auto Parts board both required a greater familiarity with finance, so she took a course on the topic. This training has served her well, as she notes herein, and has allowed her to achieve level of what she refers to as “professional athleticism.”

Our conversation also covered technical innovation in the biotechnology setting, including the topic of the “Internet of Me.”

Click here to read the full article

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Meg Whitman, Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard

Meg Whitman has led HP as CEO since September of 2011. In October of last year, she and her fellow board members announced their intent to split the PC and printers business from its enterprise products and services business. The former would be known as HP Inc., and the latter would be known as Hewlett Packard Enterprise. This would amount to the largest technology firm break-up of all time, creating two companies with revenues in excess of $55 billion.

The date of the split (November 1) is fast approaching, and I was curious about her thoughts about how things had progressed between the time of the announcement and now. Our interview was one of the first after the company’s most recent earnings release. Though she acknowledged that the news was mixed, she indicated that enormous progress has been made in breaking up the two companies, and that she is as confident as ever that the breakup is the right move.

We also spoke at length about her career path, her thoughts about increasing the number of women in executive positions at technology firms, what she learned from her time running for governor of California, and a variety of other topics.

Click here to read the full article

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Marina Levinson, Partner at Benhamou Global Ventures

Marina Levinson has had a distinguished career as a CIO at multiple companies in Silicon Valley including NetApp and Palm. When she left the former company in September of 2011, she started a company that helped venture capitalists establish CIO advisory boards, among other things. As she became more involved with VCs, she discovered that it was a field of interest.

In April of 2014, Levinson joined Benhamou Global Ventures as a partner. She brings the experience of a practitioner and a former buyer of technology, which has been invaluable to the company’s portfolio of enterprise technology start-ups.

Levinson has serves on the boards of a number of companies, including Ellie Mae, for which she is the Chair of the Technology Advisory Board.  Levinson’s path is highly unusual, but she believes that others will soon follow in her footsteps, as technology opportunities in the form of innovation and issues in the form of cybersecurity concerns dominate the agendas of boards far and wide.

Click here to read the full article

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Martha Poulter, Chief Information Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Martha Poulter joined Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide just over a year ago after spending 19 years with General Electric, most of it in the financial services side of GE. Her final stop was as CIO of GE Capital. Switching companies and industries is a challenge for most executives, but given how strong GE’s culture is, some executives find it difficult to operate in a new culture, especially one that differs substantially from GE’s metrics-driven, up or out culture.

Sensitive to the need to bring her strengths of experience while deferring to the successes of the team she was inheriting at Starwood, Poulter began her tenure at the company listening more than pontificating. She internalized the strategy that the team was already operating against, and chose to keep most of it, agreeing with the logic of it, by and large.  Therefore, she has spent more time capitalizing on the strengths that she found, and was pleased to see that a culture of innovation was already in place, though she has pushed it to an even greater degree.  She is now spearheading initiatives related to mobile check-in, development of apps that work with wearables, and further investigating opportunities related to the Internet of Things, all of which we discuss herein.

Click here to read the full article

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Stephanie von Friedeburg, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Information Technology Solutions of the World Bank Group

Stephanie von Friedeburg is the CIO and Vice President of Information Technology Solutions at the World Bank Group. In that capacity, she has overseen a tremendous transformation of IT across the Group throughout the 186 countries in which it operates. A primary weapon in her arsenal has been better use of cloud technology. This has increased the flexibility of IT, while also enhancing the Bank’s information security around the globe.

Additionally, she has joined a small but growing group of CIOs who have been asked to join the boards of companies.  In addition to being a part of the  Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union, von Friedeburg is on the board of Box.org. Part of the reason she has been board-ready has been the fact that she has a non-traditional background. With foreign policy degrees and an MBA from the Wharton School, von Friedeburg began her career at the Bank in non-technical roles. She has an auto-didact’s talent to learn quickly, while surrounding herself with a talented team with complementary strengths. She covers all the above and more in this interview.

Click here to read the full article

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Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Chief Information Officer of Adobe

Most people think of Adobe as a software product company.  The company has been in business for over 30 years, and the legacy of Adobe is around desktop software products like Photoshop, Acrobat, PDF, InDesign.  Several years ago, Adobe moved into the digital marketing area with their acquisition of Omniture, and starting at that time, the organization began a journey to become a services company, delivering SaaS based online offerings, as opposed to products in boxes.  Everything in the last three years has been focused on how to move from traditional desktop software to a subscription service where people subscribe to various Adobe capabilities, and then are on a renewing or upgrading path to continue to leverage those services.

Adobe’s CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger has been well positioned to help in these efforts. As a CIO, she has been a user of cloud-based services for years, and has understood the evolution of the technology that enables this business model, what good services look like versus average or below-average services, and she has been able to lend this experience and those perspectives to her colleagues throughout the enterprise.

Click here to read the full article

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Andi Karaboutis, Global Chief Information Officer of Dell

Much has been written about the benefits and risks of the rise of prominence of the CMO to the CIO.  Some have pontificated that it will mean the death of or at least the diminution of influence of the CIO, as CMOs have more authority over technology. Dell Global CIO Andi Karaboutis scratches her head at this notion. She describes Dell’s strategy to put the customer first, and the role that each functional and business unit head must bring in order to realize that vision. It means that IT must shape its unique perspective and apply its unique lens to opportunities and issues. It also means that emerging leaders in IT work in other regions and functions to round out their perspectives on Dell’s business to be able to contribute more value to IT, a practice she learned from a successful tenure in the automotive industry. It also requires IT to have an R&D and innovation role, constantly monitoring trends to choose the best ones to bring to life the needs of Dell and of Dell’s customers. Lastly, it means spending time with external customers, as IT must have a role in developing value for them.

Click here to read the full article

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Angela Yochem, Global Chief Information Officer of BDP International

Angela Yochem is the Global Chief Information Officer of BDP International, a privately held, multi-billion dollar revenue company providing global logistics solutions to some of the largest companies in the world. The company specializes in movements of materials that require special handling, either across borders or special physical handling. Yochem notes that logistics is the “final frontier in competitive advantage for many of our customers.” Naturally, IT has a big role to play in facilitating the major logistics organization that fuels these competitive advantages.  For instance, many logistics operations provide historical and real-time data on the goods that they ship. Yochem’s IT department provides predictive analytics, scenario planning, and blended cost analyses to enable clients to make better decisions.

Yochem had an unusual path to become an IT executive. She studied music as an undergraduate before getting a master’s degree in computer science. Though she had learned to love technology as a child programming with her father, she credits the study of music, and the discipline and teamwork it takes to be successful as offering critical lessons for her in her rise through the ranks of numerous IT departments.

More recently, she has joined the boards of three subsidiaries of BDP International as well as the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. In my interview with her, Yochem provides interesting insights into the path she took to become a board-level CIO, the insights she has brought to the boards she serves, and the insights she has brought back to her day-to-day responsibilities as a CIO.

Click here to read the full article

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Jamie Miller, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of General Electric

Jamie Miller runs information technology for one of the most complex and admired companies in the world: General Electric. One would think that the CIO of such a company would have a deep technical background, perhaps having an advanced degree in an engineering discipline along with multiple stints as CIO previously. Miller’s resume may not have these items on it, but she has something that IT departments increasingly need: financial expertise.

IT used to be a part of Finance in many companies, as some of the earliest technologies developed at big companies was technology applied to the general ledger, accounting systems more generally, and the like. Likewise, when technology was taught at business schools, it was often a sub-set of the accounting department. It is perhaps ironic that a growing number of CIOs have grown up through the Finance function. Miller has leveraged her background to make IT more transparent and accountable, and ever more cognizant of the value that it delivers to the enterprise. CIOs with or without financial backgrounds should follow her lead.

Click here to read the full article

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Patty Morrison, Chief Information Officer and Head of Customer Care Shared Services at Cardinal Health

As the chief information officer of a $101 billion colossus Cardinal Health, Patty Morrison has the biggest IT role in healthcare. This is fitting for an executive who has been a successful CIO at five major corporations. She was so successful in her CIO role, in fact, that she now also  serves as executive vice president of customer shared services for the company, focusing increasingly on top-line as well as bottom line opportunities for the company through the creative use of technology.  Morrison has also served on the board of two companies, Splunk and JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts.

As she notes in my interview with her below, the role of CIO is ideal for the executive who wishes to understand how a business truly works, and it increasingly is a role that is becoming customer-centric, as customers in all industries are becoming more technology savvy.  Lastly, she notes that the CIO’s perspective should be one that more companies seek on their boards. With this in mind, Morrison advises CIOs to weave themselves more solidly into the fabric of the businesses that they are a part of, learning how value is created, and the role that technology can play in achieving value faster.

Click here to read the full article

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Helen Cousins, Chief Information Officer of Lincoln Trust

Helen Cousins represents the quintessential curious networker that a chief information officer ought to be. Until recently, she was the Executive Vice President and CIO of Lincoln Trust Company. She was also a board member of the company.  Prior to that, she was CIO both of Dex Media and of Cendant Corporation. She was also in the 2012 class of CIO magazine’s prestigious CIO Hall of Fame. You would think then that she was destined to be a CIO from the outset of her career. Far from it.

After Cousins graduated from high school, she became the receptionist for a bank. Realizing she could do those duties pretty easily, her curiosity led her to other departments of the company, slowly learning how each department fit with others. She began filling in for people if they were away on a temporary basis.  She eventually received a bachelor’s degree and then an MBA, but it was this curiosity to understand businesses that began when she was the most junior person at a bank that has served her well as she has risen. Upon becoming CIO, she realized that an ability to network through the organization, and to find common needs or opportunities articulated in multiple parts of the organization, tying them together before the leaders who articulated them realized they could be that set her apart as an extraordinary leader. She is a rare CIO to become a board member of her own company, but that was the role she played at Lincoln Trust. Although Cousins has many skills that are innate, and therefore tough to teach, she nevertheless imparts a great many insights in my interview with her for IT executives who wish to follow in her footsteps.

Click here to read the full article

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Martha Heller, President of Heller Search Associates

Martha Heller is the President of Heller Search Associates, and the author of The CIO Paradox: Battling the Contradictions of IT Leadership. In addition to placing a number of high profile IT executives, she also writes about hers and many other placements for CIO magazine together with advice for chief information officers everywhere.  She has developed a strong personal brand, and has helped improve the personal brands of IT executives who have adopted some of her methods.

In light of this experience, I recently caught up with Martha to engage her on the topic of the CIO’s First 100 Days. Since she is often in touch with CIOs before they get their jobs, and then stays in touch as their tenures progress, she offers some interesting insights into how CIOs should prioritize their activities early in their tenures to ensure that executive recruiters are not called back in for a replacement soon thereafter.

Click here to read the full article

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Linda Reed, Vice President of Integrated and Behavioral Medicine and Chief Information Officer of Atlantic Health System

With the high profile issues plaguing the technical implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the gulf between those who understand healthcare and those who understand technology has been quite stark. There are precious few CIOs who have a practitioner’s perspective when it comes to healthcare. The stereotype between doctors and nurses and IT executives highlight very different qualities. The former are noted for their interpersonal skills, their ability to listen, while being generally technophobes in practice. The latter have historically been introverted problem solvers who often operated more as order takers rather than as proactive advisors. Each should take attempt to draw from the strengths of the others to become more well-rounded.

An executive who exhibits the strong qualities of each is Linda Reed because she is each. Reed is a registered nurse whose earliest experience was in that field. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she saw the transformative power of technology early on and embraced it, and then became deeply involved in it. As a result, she rose to become the CIO of Atlantic Health System. She did not leave her credentials as an RN at the door, however, drawing strength from her earlier experience. In fact, she became a CIO-plus when she added responsibilities to become the Vice President of Integrated and Behavioral Medicine & CIO of Atlantic Health System.

Click here to read the full article

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Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Coursera

Last week, I kicked off a series on education technology with an interview with Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity. Daphne Koller who co-founded and is the co-CEO of Coursera, by some measures the largest of the for-profit educational technology companies offering massive open online courses or MOOCs with over five million students across most countries, has much in common with Thrun. They both were foreign-born Stanford professors with backgrounds in artificial intelligence when they started the companies they currently lead. Each has also taken a leave of absence from Stanford in order to pursue their current opportunities.

Though their companies compete, they have chosen very different areas of focus. Udacity, like several other companies that provide MOOCs has chosen to focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses. Coursera has chosen a much broader offering, including many disciplines in the humanities. This breadth of offering has been a strength of the company in building a broad student-base, and it has signed up over 60 universities as partners. That said, it has required particularly creative approaches both process and technology-wise in order to facilitate learning, collaboration, and grading.

Koller admits that some of the data surrounding MOOCs might suggest that students are not learning as much as they could, as drop-out rates are substantial, but she argues that new metrics are needed in order to determine success or failure.

Click here to read the full article

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Cathy Bessant, Head of Global Technology and Operations of Bank of America

Cathy Bessant has one of the biggest technology roles on the planet. She runs Global Technology and Operations at Bank of America, and in that role has nearly 100,000 people on her team in 35 counties. She first joined the company in 1982 as a corporate banker in Texas. Since then she has been the President of Bank of America Florida, the National Small Business Segment executive, the President of Consumer Real Estate and Community Development Banking, the chief marketing officer, the President of Global Treasury Services and Global Product Solutions, and the President of Global Corporate Banking. Therefore, she has had an extraordinary breadth of experiences at the Bank, but she did not grow up in IT per se.

The prudent use of data and information is as important in the financial services industry as any other industry. It touches everything that a bank does. In many ways, having someone who has had such a wide variety of executive positions in the company is the ideal candidate for the Technology and Operations role that Bessant occupies.  As she notes below, the key to filling in any gaps she might have on the technology side, is having a skilled team, while learning from the various companies whose boards she sits on

Click here to read the full article

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Kim Stevenson, Chief Information Officer of Intel

Kim Stevenson has one of the biggest jobs in information technology. As CIO of Intel, she leads a diverse team of technologists within a company that is historically known to be a paragon of technology innovation. When she took her current post nearly two years ago, she had been part of the IT leadership team already. Yet, as a new CIO she needed to develop a new relationship with her peers among the division heads and the broader leadership team. She found that leaders outside of IT were quite happy with IT, but she came to a surprising conclusion: they were not expecting enough of the IT department. As Stevenson notes herein, she realized that if Intel was going to succeed in increasing the pace of innovation, IT needed to be more of a contributor to that innovation. Her first 100 days in her job were critical in setting a new tone and culture within IT; it is a path that is not for the faint of heart, but the accomplishments of her team are evidence enough that it is a path worth emulating.

Click here to read the full article

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Meg McCarthy, Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology at Aetna

Meg McCarthy has many of the common characteristics of other executives who have been featured in the Beyond CIO series. She has a non-technical graduate degree in the field that she has long been linked to (the degree is a master of public health with a concentration in hospital administration); she spent time as a partner in a major consulting firm, Ernst & Young, and a senior manager at another one, Accenture; she has been an IT executive at multiple major companies, including at CIGNA. Despite having a focus on technology for most of her career, McCarthy has focused on business outcomes first and foremost and technology secondarily. The former defines the ends, and the latter is simply the means.

Soon after McCarthy joined Aetna a decade ago, she climbed the rungs from CIO to head of Business Solutions Delivery, which brought together all IT project management, development, quality engineering, and IT-related business-process reengineering functions, necessary to create, develop and deliver end-to-end business solutions. She then became senior vice president of Innovation, Technology, and Service Operations. Finally, near the end of 2010, McCarthy took on her current role as executive vice president of Operations and Technology. In that role, she continues to have responsibility for clinical innovation, technology and service operations, but she has added responsibility for process and performance improvement, procurement, and real estate services for Aetna.

As McCarthy describes herein, the key has been to continue to push the envelope on value creation, and to demonstrate that value in ways that the rest of the organization can understand. Considering the lofty position she has achieved since beginning her time as CIO, this is a path worth emulating.

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Katrina Lane, Executive Vice President of Consumer Cards & Experiences of American Express

CIOs take heart: You don’t have to be an experimental physicist to win a promotion from the IT department into a line management role, but it can’t hurt, as the case of American Express executive Katrina Lane shows. Lane has been achieving at a high-level for a long time. She has a Ph.D. in Experimental Physics from Cornell, spent seven years as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and took on marketing executive roles at multiple companies, ending up as the vice president of Channel Marketing at Caesars Entertainment. During her time in marketing, she collaborated with IT departments in developing data-driven marketing strategies, and implementing sophisticated customer relationship marketing (CRM) and business intelligence systems. She was so knowledgeable, in fact, that she was asked to take over IT as Caesars’ senior vice president and chief technology officer, the senior-most information technology role in the company.

Although this path may seem strange, there are a number of CIOs and CTOs whose first role in IT were as the senior-most position in the department. Lane’s scientific background, her time in consulting, and her deep collaboration with IT made this possible. Her responsibilities were broader than the average CIO, as well, as over time her role expanded and she oversaw innovation, gaming, IT application development, infrastructure, security, support for customer facing systems, all company web sites, as well as key initiatives to develop new technical capabilities for the Total Rewards loyalty program.

In May of 2012, after more than eight years at Caesars Entertainment, Lane left to become the Executive Vice President of Consumer Cards & Experiences at American Express. In this role, she manages the consumer card products portfolio and customer experiences. She and her team develop new offerings to enhance the card member experience and oversee customer segmentation, retention and advocacy. This is a logical step up based on her past experiences, as she makes clear below.

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Jo-Ann Olsovksy, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of BNSF Railway

Jo-ann Olsovsky knows a thing or two about telecommunications. Prior to becoming CIO of BNSF Railway in June 2008, she was the assistant vice president of telecommunications at BNSF, and previously, she was the director of enterprise network services and technology support services at Verizon Communications. Soon after joining BNSF, Olsovsky recognized that unified communications would be an important area to invest in as the workforce that she supported was increasingly mobile.

In this Q&A, Olsovsky tells CIO Insight contributor Peter High about the steps she has taken relative to unified communications, the value her company has derived, and her future plans.

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Sheleen Quish, Senior Vice President of IT and HR at Ameristar Casinos

Information Technology and Human Resources are corporate divisions that have been quite different historically.  When Ameristar Casinos CIO Sheleen Quish was asked to take over Human Resources as well, it might have seemed to be a strange combination, but always an autodidact, she threw herself into her new role, and uncovered many similarities between these traditionally disparate departments.  In the process, she transformed each to be more proactive, more consultative, and more cognizant of its contribution to the overall value to the company. As it turns out, Quish has long looked to have a broad set of responsibilities, and has constantly sought opportunities to broaden the value she could offer to each company for which she has worked.  In the process, she has become a model CIO-plus.

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