Two Steps to Build Innovative IT DNA at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, article in Forbes

November 28, 2012
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As a new CIO, Mohamoud Jibrell built credibility by capitalizing on low hanging fruit and cleaning up the application portfolio

by Peter High, published on


When Mohamoud Jibrell joined the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as its CIO in March of 2010, he developed a 90-day plan to help guide his transition. HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that plays a prominent role in advancing bio-medical research and science education in the United States, and with an endowment of $16.1 billion at the end of fiscal year 2011, HHMI is the nation’s second largest philanthropic organization after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As he joined an organization with 13 Nobel Prize winners on staff, he realized that innovation was in the cultural DNA of the organization. He challenged himself to transform IT so that it shared that same DNA.

To burnish IT’s credentials in the early part of his tenure, Jibrell realized that he needed to pick some low-hanging fruit that would enable his team to develop momentum. He needed to deliver increased value to the organization while identifying efficiencies wrought through better use of technology, and he focused on two series of activities to do so:

1. Leverage Existing Infrastructure and Data to Accomplish Top Priorities of Other Executives


2. Implement the Deletion Test as a Means of Retiring Old Technology


By focusing on top-line value to readily implement new solutions while reducing costs and the infrastructure footprint at the same time, a new IT leader can set a course for double-barreled value creation that earns him or her status as a true peer to the rest of the c-suite of executives.

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