One Of The First Board-Level CIOs Shares Insights From 14 Years Worth Of Experience
by Peter High, published on Forbes
Few CIOs accomplished so much in such a short amount of time as Gregor Bailar. By the time he retired from Capital One, he had been a technology executive at Citibank and the Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology at NASDAQ prior to taking on the role of CIO of Capital One. He was in his mid-40s at the time of his departure. He was still in his 30s when he was invited to join his first board – that of Digitas, Inc. in 2001. While at Capital One, he was invited to join the board of the Corporate Executive Board, a board that he is still a part of. Today, he is no longer a CIO, but in addition to his public board affiliation, he sits on a number of non-profit boards, as well. In this interview, he shares his path to gaining board access, the advantages that CIOs bring to boards, and reasons why more CIOs are likely to be asked to join boards in the future.
(This is the ninth article in the “Board-Level CIO” series. To read past interviews with board-level CIOs from FedEx, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, General Motors, and Cardinal Health, please visit this link. To read future articles in this series, please click the “Follow” link above.)
Peter High: Gregor, you were one of the earliest CIOs to be invited to join the board of companies. In 2001, you joined the board of Digitas, Inc. How did that opportunity present itself?
Gregor Bailar: I was working at NASDAQ at the time and we were in discussions with Hellman and Friedman about funding opportunities for potential expansion for NASDAQ. I worked closely with several members of their team on a few deals over the course of several months. At the time H&F had an investment in Digitas (one of the first advertising firms to unlock digital on-line advertising) and wanted add a technologist to the board. They spoke to Frank Zarb, the Chairman of NASDAQ and got his nod and then approached me for the role. It was a great first board with a fantastic team. Ultimately, we sold Digitas to Publicis in 2007 for $1.3 billion. Digitas gained global access and growth and the investors saw a handsome return.
High: What was the company looking for in adding a CIO to the board?
Bailar: Digitas wanted someone who saw business through a technology-enabled perspective and someone who had experience in what was then the New Frontier of the internet.