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2/8/2002
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IT Confidential

"One CIO was at the office of another CIO in the group and had brought an expert from his company to help the other guy."

His name is Frank Pierce (not really), he's been in IT for 25 years, and lately, he's found himself out of a job. It's the third time in 10 years he's been unemployed, but this time it's serious. He was the IT director of a subsidiary of a large insurance company that had offices in the World Trade Center. He was out of town Sept. 11. As part of its recovery process, the company moved most of its IT operations back to its Midwestern headquarters and outsourced some functions to one of the Big Five consulting firms. Pierce isn't bitter about being laid off, but he says the IT job market in New York isn't booming. "I'm looking around, trying to see what avenues I have for networking, but the market is clamped down pretty tight," he says. Pierce says he understands the company's centralizing, streamlining, downsizing strategy, and he's got enough severance to last for a little while, "but if I have to be out a few more months and use up my severance, then I'll be bitter." If anybody knows of networking opportunities in New York, let me know at the contact information below, and I'll pass it on.

Maybe Frank Pierce should move to Pittsburgh. A good place to network might be the Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group. The group's made up of 20 or so C-level IT execs from Pittsburgh-area companies, such as Elkem Metals, Pittsburgh Corning, and McDonald Steel, and it meets every five or six weeks to share problems, solutions, areas of interest, and pet peeves. The group was started by a local IT consultancy, Plus Consulting, but front man Steve Smith says all his company provides is the meeting place and moral support. "We help facilitate but don't do any selling," Smith says. "Many of them are our customers, and it's nice to hear the pains and the sorrows of the organizations because we like to stay in touch with the community." The Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group is looking for a few more members and would like to find out if there are any other groups like it around the country. For information, go to plusconsulting.com/markets/ciogroup.htm.

Maybe we should all move to Pittsburgh (or someplace in Pennsylvania). The Keystone State is bullish on IT. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (Mr. Homeland Security) was a big advocate, and last week, current Gov. Mark Schweiker proposed spending $72 million of the state's 2002 budget on an IT strategy called Imagine PA, which would provide government agencies and offices with ERP and online-procurement software to help automate government transactions and employee benefits. Schweiker is looking to spend another $11.2 million on a wireless radio network to link mobile state employees and emergency-response teams.

Related to homeland security, the House of Representatives passed a bill last week authorizing $880 million over five years for the National Science Foundation to create cybersecurity research centers and fund college grants and fellowships for the study of IT security. "This bill is the equivalent of legislation Congress passed in the wake of the Sputnik launch in the late 1950s," Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. "The attacks of Sept. 11 have turned our attention to the nation's weaknesses, and again we find that our capacity to conduct research and to educate will have to be enhanced if we are to counter our foesover the long run." The bill goes to the Senate for approval.

Speaking of the IT job market in New York, Patricia Skarulis just landed the CIO and VP of IS gig at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a position that has been open since last March, when Skarulis' predecessor, Wei-Tih Cheng, left to become CIO of Aetna. Skarulis oversees a staff of 314 IT pros and reports to John Gunn, executive VP. She brings more than 20 years' experience in IT, the last 10 years as VP and CIO at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, and before that at Duke, Princeton, Bowdoin, Rutgers, and Bell Labs.


Geez, the lady can't seem to hold a job (rim shot). But seriously, folks, it's a good time for networking and for looking out for our own, so if you have success with a support group or know of any leads in New York, drop me a line, and an industry tip, at jsoat@cmp.com, or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about unemployment, ERP, or the Pittsburgh Steelers, meet me at InformationWeek .com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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