CIOs Struggle with the Great Talent Hunt

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"Success in IT comes from building an organization that has a mix of strong technical individuals as well as business-minded individuals that are leading in a way that helps the techies understand how they fit into the business and why what they do is important," says Smoley. "Simultaneously, [you have to help] the business-minded folks understand the technical strategies and road maps so they can leverage them and represent them to the business. It is a continuous challenge."

The Making of a Strategist

Are IT strategists made or born?

At Gallo, Kushar recruits about half of his strategic thinkers as ready-made hires from the outside world and develops the rest internally. "In part it's about allowing some people inside the organization to think differently," he says.

For Suzanne Best-Foster, vice president of enterprise infrastructure services at Jacobs Engineering and a Ones to Watch honoree, the key is "investing in more listening than talking and suspending the techie drive in me to provide solutions based on what I know and not what could be."

Her transformation to strategic thinker has been fueled by listening to others challenge her thinking or encourage her to broaden her vision. "I have grown immeasurably through the opportunities they have made for me to gain insight," she says.

Smoley says strategic thinking must be a core tenet of talent development. "I look for open-mindedness, a questioning mind-set, candor, critical thinking, [and] the ability to network confidently, internally and externally," Smoley explains. When he finds junior employees who have those traits, he matches them up with a senior mentor. "[It] helps to accelerate learning through more frequent conversations around what works and what doesn't--and why.

"Success as a strategist comes from a broad awareness of strategic options and what has and hasn't worked in the past and currently," Smoley says. "The technical world changes so fast that individuals have to be continuously assessing their assumptions and re-evaluating them."

Progress, Not Perfection

One thing Takai has learned is that you can't take an entire IT organization and make it all strategic. "They're used to doing things a certain way and it's hard to get people to go at it differently," she says. "It's better to pick two or three people at a time," she says.

And she's realistic about the changes she can--or can't--make when some of her employees have 30 years of tenure; they were there before she was appointed and will be there after she leaves. "They know people like me come and go, and my ability to get them to think differently is limited."

Sometimes the dual demands of the hybrid role are too much for one IT professional to handle. Or pairs of seemingly complementary workers don't mesh. "The toughest part is to try to find compatible people," says Kushar. "Either you try to put someone that's too technical in a role and they don't have the customer skills, or they're too customer-skilled and don't have the technical awareness. Those people fall flat."

Weeks has spent three years already on the path to creating an IT organization that boasts both business and technology expertise. His direct reports finally all get it. But "when you get down to their directs, some get it more than others," he says. "Each rung down the ladder, it's harder for them to see the big picture. It's not perfect. It never will be."

Yet these top-notch CIOs keep at it.

"You don't hire people that get it and all of a sudden everything's cured," Weeks says. "You have to give them time to understand the business. And then they have to hire people that get it, and give them time to understand the business. It takes time."

Meet the New Members of the CIO Hall of Fame for 2013

Kent Kushar


E&J Gallo Winery

CAREER His IT career spans nearly 50 years, from his first job as a tabulating equipment operator in 1963 to his current position as technology leader and visionary at the family-owned Gallo Winery. During his 17 years with Gallo, Kushar has developed a close and strategic relationship with the Gallo family and executives, while creating innovative, customer-facing applications that achieve competitive advantage and produce desired business outcomes.

JUDGE'S VIEW "He represents a model of a long-term CIO at one company. He has aligned IT very nicely with the business goals and management, which has driven the business to retain him over a long period--something that is not easy given the normal tenure of CIOs."

David Smoley



CAREER Smoley joined AstraZeneca as CIO last month after a lengthy stint at Flextronics International, where he oversaw the company's $250 million IT budget and 2,400 IT employees in 30 countries. In addition to adopting a "lean IT" approach that keeps costs low, he created a culture of innovation resulting in high-ROI projects, such as consolidating 80 HR systems into one global cloud-based tool.

JUDGE'S VIEW "Dave is a true thought leader in cloud/[software-as-a-service] applications and has been a champion and adviser to many CIOs."

Teri Takai


Department of Defense

CAREER After making a big impact as IT strategic planner at Ford Motor Co., she moved into the public sector as CIO for the state of Michigan and then California. Now Takai faces perhaps the biggest IT challenge of all: bringing the Pentagon and its $37 billion IT budget into the age of cloud and mobile computing.

JUDGE'S VIEW "Someone who knows technology and how to get things done in a very difficult environment. A long track record of success."

Hall of Fame Judges

Gregor Bailar, Former CIO, Capital One

Helen Cousins, CIO, Lincoln Trust Company

Charlie Feld, Founder, The Feld Group Institute

Tom Flanagan, VP & Senior Client Partner at IBM, Former CIO of Amgen

David Johns, CIO, Ascena Retail

Patty Morrison, EVP of Customer Care Shared Services & CIO, Cardinal Health

Tom Murphy, VP of IT & University CIO, University of Pennsylvania

Filippo Passerini, Group President of Global Business Services & CIO, Procter & Gamble

Andreas Resch, Managing Director, Modalis Management

Rebecca Rhoads, VP of Global Business Services & CIO, Raytheon

Ralph Szygenda, Former Group VP & CIO, GM

Tim Theriault, CIO, Walgreens

Carl Wilson, Former EVP & CIO, Marriott International

Ones to Watch Winners

Pete Corrigan

Senior Vice President of Technology and Operations

Allstate Insurance

Kevin Dana

Director of Application Management

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

Chandra Dhandapani

Senior Vice President of IT & Divisional Information Officer

Capital One

Benedict Cabrera

Senior Director of Business Systems Delivery

Covanta Energy

Eric Keane

Senior Vice President & CIO of FedEx Express Solutions

FedEx Services

Raja Musunuru


The Steritech Group

Lt. Col. Bobby Saxon

Division Chief & Program Manager of Enterprise Management Decision Support

U.S. Army G-3/5/7

Brian Keinsley

Vice President of Applications Engineering


Karen Ryan

Manager of Application Administration

Newport News Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries

Eric Johnson

Vice President of Global Applications


Bret (William) Wingert

Vice President of Business Transformation

Insight Enterprises

Karen Freeman

Deputy Associate CIO

Internal Revenue Service

Suzanne Best-Foster

Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure Services

Jacobs Engineering

Deborah Morewitz

Director of IS Technology

Newport News Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries

Yang Lu

Vice President of eCommerce Systems


Cindy Kottler

Director of IT

St. Peter's Healthcare System

Richard Wall

Executive Director of IT-Software Engineering


Amita Dhawan

Vice President of IT Business Service Management

The Clorox Company

Todd Schroeder

Director of Business Systems Management

Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA

Alin D'Silva

Vice President of IT, Chief Administrative Office


Ones to Watch Judges

Rex Althoff, CIO & President of Technology, Federated Services Co.

Tom Bartiromo, Senior Vice President, CTO and CIO, Barnabas Health

Lori Beer, EVP of Specialty Businesses and IT, WellPoint

Mark Berthiaume, Senior Vice President & CIO of Specialty and Commercial Insurance, Chubb Insurance

Bill Blausey, Senior VP & CIO, Eaton

Larry Bonfante, CIO, U.S. Tennis Association

Cora Carmody, Senior Vice President of IT, Jacobs

Sonya Christian, CIO, West Georgia Health System

Jay Crotts, CIO & VP, IT Services and Operations, Royal Dutch Shell

Raj Datt, Senior Vice President Global Operations & CIO, Aricent

Jeri Dunn, Former VP & CIO, Bacardi-Martin

John Edgar, VP of IT, US Postal Service

Robert Fecteau, CIO, SAIC

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Managing Director & CIO, Russell Reynolds Associates

Michael Gabriel, former Executive VP of IT & CIO, Home Box Office

Ken Grady, CIO, New England Biolabs

Steven R. Hanna, VP & CIO, Kennametal

Jeff Hutchinson, CIO, Maple Leaf Foods

Gerry McCartney, VP of IT, CIO, Inaugural Director of Innovation and Commercialization Center, & Olga Oesterle England Professor of IT, Purdue University

Rebecca McClendon, Former Senior Vice President, FedEx

Ken Piddington, CIO, Global Partners LP

Rebecca Rhoads, Global Business Services Group Leader, VP & CIO, Raytheon

Tina Rourk, Senior Vice President & CIO, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Doug Rousso, Senior Vice President & CTO, CBS Corporation

Samir Saini, CIO, Atlanta Housing Authority

Hugh Scott, CIO, Energy Plus

Mike Skinner, EVP & CIO, EURPAC Service, Inc.

Jeff Steinhorn, CIO, Hess

Joseph Touey, Senior Vice President of North America Pharmaceuticals IT, GlaxoSmithKline

Robert Urwiler, CIO, Vail Resorts

Gordon Wishon, CIO, Arizona State University

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This story, "CIOs Struggle with the Great Talent Hunt" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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