You need a Cio who can lay the
path where investments need to
be made and then prioritize and
make them happen.
before spending their careers on the IT side. Those
who do [spend time on the business side] realize how
valuable the experience is.
Continued from page 12
did you spend time on the business side? Yes, absolutely. It’s such an amazing experience to have to look
at everything from a customer’s perspective.
what do you suggest other Cios do to better manage
their careers? You can take concrete steps where you
actually go out of IT and do something different for a
while. I know that’s risky, but without that the rewards
won’t be there. But if [such opportunities aren’t avail-able], then freely leverage the IT arena. You’re sitting
at the intersection of all the business problems and
issues, so really try to learn and become part of the
conversations that the executive staff is having. Try
to learn and contribute and not limit yourself to just
being part of the technology conversation.
And I think generally for anyone to manage their
career in any organization, it’s important to know
who are the key people around you, who are the key
constituents, who are your allies and people who
might potentially stand in your way, and then be aware
of those relationships and never be afraid to build the
relationships you may need.
what was the biggest challenge of stepping into
a new Cio position at a new company? I think in
general, whenever a company hires a new CIO, there’s
a likelihood that there’s a lot that needs to be done.
There’s a huge agenda. So the most important thing is
to understand your customers’ expectations and your
managers’ expectations and then prioritize.
If two years down the road you say, “I’m a good CIO
because of X, Y and Z,” then what are X, Y and Z? So pri-oritization and focus are important. Then probably in the
first 60 to 90 days, somehow communicate what you’re
going to do. You don’t want to be there for six months
and have people have no idea what your agenda is.
You’ve held Cio positions since 2004. what have you
seen as the biggest change in the Cio’s job during those
years? Over the past five years, the shift in technology
and the consumerization of IT has made the presence of
technology in everybody’s life prevalent, so nothing can
be done that I T doesn’t have a role in or an impact on.
So it’s defining the role of the CIO in this new world.
There are some who would say you don’t need the CIO
anymore, but there’s a huge school of thought that says
you need a CIO now more than ever. You need a CIO
who can lay the path where investments need to be
made and then prioritize and make them happen.
As someone who has worked with women in Technology international (wi Ti), do you still see issues
with getting females to enter the technology field?
I think so. I’m lucky enough to have three women on
my direct team — it’s less than half, but it’s more than
I had in my previous company. There are still issues
with having women in technology, and the issues
start at younger levels. A lot of girls don’t go into math
and science, and if you don’t have that foundation, it’s
harder to go into technology.
So first we should address that whole issue of girls
going into math and science. And the other issue is that
in IT, some of the roles are very time-consuming and
sometimes require you to be connected 24/7. During
certain years of your life, when you’re having children,
there’s a strong temptation to say, “I can’t have kids and
have that type of job.” Companies that provide more
flexible careers, maybe allow some ability to work from
home, to enable women to have their jobs and their
family, will do better in keeping women.
Are enough people concerned about this issue? There
are probably not enough people concerned, but I know it’s
one of the topics of high concern for many women executives. If there’s anything we can do, we try to do it. There’s
not enough [concern] at government levels to change this.
But every step by every individual goes a long way.
what are you doing on this? Involvement in organizations like WITI and taking the opportunity to speak
whenever I can, being an alumna adviser at Harvard.
And I have two daughters, and I’m trying to do my
best to make sure they’re as strong as they can be in
math and science. Certainly I could be doing more, but
hopefully it is something.
– Interview by Computerworld contributing writer
mary K. pratt ( firstname.lastname@example.org)