By Peter High, published on Forbes
To say that Dow CIO Melanie Kalmar has a lot on her plate is an understatement. She has helped integrate two major acquisitions (Dow Corning and Dupont), is in the process of planning their divestiture, leads digital initiatives across the enterprise, runs Corporate Facilities, helped establish and runs Dow Services Business, all on top of running cybersecurity and infrastructure. Hers is a role that has all traditional aspects of IT, but also encompasses revenue-generating business and helps drive both customer and employee experience, as well. She covers this vast purview, the implications of the acquisitions and divestitures, the role that technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain will play at Dow, among many other topics.
Peter High: Can you provide a brief overview of your purview at Dow?
Melanie Kalmer: I am Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Dow Chemical, and my role is a great example of how the responsibilities of a CIO continue to evolve. I have responsibilities for both global IT as well as for our Corporate Facilities and Dow Services Business.
In terms of traditional IT accountability, I have responsibilities on a global scale including delivering the typical broad set of IT services. The fun part of that is the unique services that our business units need. I also have other corporate infrastructure responsibilities focused on our end-to-end processes and other stuff we do with our business units.
I also have accountability for cybersecurity and analytics, and I have a fun role in leading the digital transformation for the company. Even though I lead that, I want to be clear it is a collaborative effort that engages all facets of the company. That is how I like to operate, by engaging with the other executives and being extremely transparent about what we are doing. We hit the mark and we can deliver the expected business outcomes.
The other half is Corporate Facilities. What I focus on there is the offices and labs around the globe and creating modern capabilities. We want the spaces where people work to be vibrant and allow for greater collaboration. We are building new facilities and remodeling others to bring in more technology and create more opportunities for people to collide. The buzz word in the industry is collision space.
We just opened a new headquarters late last summer, and it is a beautiful building. There is a lot of buzz around the building about how it is driving more collaboration and a better flow of information. People can hear what others are talking about. We have open environments across most of our buildings.
As we embark on the huge set of activities that are coming out of our big M&A around Dow Corning and DuPont, we are working on what we call our rooftop strategy. This involves us deciding what facilities will go with which company, and how we get better space utilization in the buildings that we do occupy.
Under Corporate Facilities, we also manage real estate, which will help drive financial assessments on the real estate and sell assets. Much of this, be it land or buildings, we have acquired through many acquisitions over the years.
Finally, I run Dow Services Business [DSP]. The business was formed to support our joint ventures and our divestiture activities. The team that I lead manages contracts to provide services such as IT services, procurement services, and site services, to name a few examples. Those services are provided to our joint venture partners or to buyers of businesses that we divest.
The team focuses on ensuring we have those contracts in place but also acts as a liaison between those DSP customers and the groups within Dow that are providing the services. That has allowed us to leverage Dow’s capabilities on both a transitional basis and on a long-term basis and allows the joint ventures or the buyers of a divested business from Dow to focus on meeting their business objectives instead of having to figure out how to run the day-to-day business. We can provide those services for them while they are starting up.
Those are the three key areas I focus on. Additionally, I sit on the board for a reinsurance company [Dorinco Reinsurance Company] and participate in a lot of external activities such as around STEM. This is my role in a nutshell.
High: You spoke about the digital responsibilities that you have. Can you share how you define digital, as well as the ways in which you lead that from a transformation perspective?
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