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10/10/2011
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CIO Profile: Brook Walsh Of GreenStone Farm Credit Services

Always take into account your entire team's perspective, this CIO advises.

Career Track



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Brook Walsh
Senior VP & CIO, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
How long at current company: I've been at this financial services company for three years.

Most important career influencer: A former supervisor said a few things that stuck with me. The first is, "If it won't matter in 30 years, it doesn't matter that much today." This helps me deal with the pressure CIOs are always under. The second is, "Be subservient to the business you have the privilege to serve." In other words, every day is your audition, so make sure your customers would choose to hire you again if given a choice. This perspective allows me to guard against complacency and inertia.

Decision I wish I could do over: I remember making a decision without fully taking into consideration the entire team's perspective. I gathered a majority of the management team's perspective, but not the people who were actually doing the work. I thought that by incorporating their managers' opinions I was capturing theirs, and I was sadly mistaken.

On The Job


IT budget: $7.5 million

Size of IT team: 37 employees

Top initiatives: Server/Exchange 2010 upgrade, Office 2010/Windows 2007 rollout, SharePoint and CRM upgrades, and loan request workflow automation.

How I measure IT effectiveness: Operationally, we talk about accomplishments in our status reporting every week. Strategically, we have three departmental service-level agreements for the project management office, systems availability, and incident management. We also leverage a variety of benchmark data (i.e., IT spend as a percentage of revenue) to see how we stack up against the competition.

Vision


Next big thing for my business: Mobility and creating access to our information online in a much more accessible manner to customers.

One thing I'm looking to improve this year:Increase speed to market with product development. This seems like an every-year expedition, but our business will always want us to be better, faster, and cheaper, so we need to work toward that end.

Lesson learned from the recession: Make sure governance processes aren't too bureaucratic--because when the economy changes, so does business priority and focus.

Personal


Colleges/degrees: Michigan State University, BS in public policy and computer science and an MBA

Favorite president: Ronald Reagan--he didn't have a huge ego and admitted mistakes

Best book read recently: Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: World Vision's Richard Stearns, who gave up the perks of being a corporate CEO to run a nonprofit

Ranked No. 20 in the 2010 InformationWeek 500

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