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CIO Profiles: Curt Kwak Of Providence Health & Services

Build a solid strategy that aligns with your vision and don't waver from it, Kwak advises.

Career Track

CURT KWAK CIO, Providence Health & Services, Western Region

CIO, Providence Health & Services, Western Region
How long at current company: Three years at Providence, a healthcare provider.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I'm extremely proud of the fact that I was able to juggle an executive MBA at the same time I was working full capacity at my organization, all while our second child was born. It's not for everybody, but I'm very proud of this. The other piece that I'm proud of is that I received a promotion to CIO after just 1-1/2 years of service here at Providence.

Most important career influencers: I have two. First, my former boss at a previous job because he challenged me as someone who I wasn't at the time, meaning he extracted the very best out of me. The other is Charles Hill, professor at the University of Washington, whose unique teaching style and brilliance helped shape a part of who I am today.

Decision I wish I could do over: I would have pursued my executive MBA earlier in my career.


Advice for future CIOs: Build a bold, positive self-affirmation and stick with it until you achieve it!

Best way to cope with the economic downturn: Build a solid strategy that aligns with your vision and don't waver from it.

The next big thing for my industry will be ... healthcare reform.

The federal government's top tech priority should be ... the elimination of disparate and closed-loop systems. Also, to promote competition and innovation through open system requirements.

On The Job

Size of IT team: 160 full-time employees

Top initiatives:

  • Computerized physician order-entry implementation;
  • Health information exchange program;
  • Optimization of existing systems.

How I measure IT effectiveness: We utilize a regional IS balanced scorecard measuring financial indicators (operating and capital budget utilization and variance), employee development indicators (development plan, succession, and progression planning metrics), customer satisfaction progress indicators (annual customer satisfaction, monthly customer satisfaction, and stakeholder/customer rounding metrics), and operational progress indicators (service desk call volume, IT infrastructure, and capacity measures).


Colleges/degrees: University of Washington, bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and executive master's degree in business administration

Leisure activities: Golf

Tech vendor CEO I admire most: Apple's Steve Jobs

Biggest business-related pet peeve: Awe-inspiring visions with absolutely zero operating plan

Personal computer: Dell

Smartphone: iPhone

Last vacation: Oahu, Hawaii

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