One thing is certain: The role of the CIO (or whatever title might be used for the person who leads a company's business–technology strategy) is constantly changing. Economic fluctuations; increased emphasis on outsourcing; a more keen focus on optimizing business processes, people, and technology; increasingly sophisticated supply chains; global competition-the list goes on and on. It's clear that the role requires some person or group that's extremely agile, can think strategically and tactically, and can lead a team through good times and bad.
While many CIOs today often have experience in business disciplines and a strong technology background, it's not often that you find one who has no technology background. There are, of course, exceptions. And InformationWeek's2003 Chief of the Year is not just an exception, but an exceptional leader.
Roy Dunbar has been CIO at the $11 billion pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly for the past four years. Trained as a pharmacist and with plenty of business–management experience, he got the job even though he had no technology training. Just last month, he was promoted to president of intercontinental operations, and he's carrying with him an impressive list of accomplishments that have made IT an integral part of the company's business strategy. But he brings more than business sense to his job. His colleagues use terms like "erudite," "deep thinker," and "philosopher" to describe him. Indeed, some of his personal beliefs and philosophy have surely influenced his effective leadership style and have consistently helped push him out of his comfort zone.
"I thrive when people believe I can do something that is bigger than what you might think," he says. "It's fuel to me."
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