Bill Miller loves being the one to "tool people up" to make sure the big semiconductor supplier's chips are used in as many devices as possible.
WILLIAM H. MILLER, JR. SVP & CIO, BROADCOM
Bill Miller is positively boisterous about being a CIO, which he says "is the best job to have." He loves where he works, running IT at Broadcom, a maker of communications chips known for its hard-charging culture. "It's a joy to tool people up and go into battle!" he says. Previously, the 53-year-old Miller ran his own IT consulting firm, and was CIO at Harris Corp.
How long at Broadcom?: Just about a year and a half.
Most important career influencer: My father worked for NASA right after Kennedy founded the space program. I got to go to Goddard Space Center frequently and see all the neat things evolving as part of the space program. That left this incredible hunger to be involved with technology and the great innovation that was occurring. That kind of triggered it. I've been influenced by many previous CEOs and CIOs. I've been blessed by great mentors.
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I was given a specific assignment by the CEO to reformulate the IT organization for Harris, a 100-year old company, to take 13 separate IT organizations and consolidate them into one central shared service IT organization. That was about an 18-month journey that was really satisfying.
Why do you do what you do? I just love leveraging technology to improve productivity. Every year the technology evolves and emerges in different ways. There are always new opportunities to apply technology in a different fashion to enable talented people. IT affects every function in a corporate organization. It's so much fun to get to know and work with people in that way. I just love the job.
One thing I wish I could do over: I don't spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror and questioning what didn't work. Decisions might not be the best in the long run, but they are the best you could make at the time. They grow you into who you are as a leader.
Hardest thing about what you're doing: The hardest is continuing to hire the absolute best people available to us. IT is competitive in general. Broadcom is in an extremely competitive industry in semiconductors and the rarified air we see ourselves and our competitors reside in requires the best of the best.
One thing I'm looking to do better: Where I see the biggest challenge is this good-to-great transition in our design systems environment. I think we are very good today; the question is how do I get us to excellent. That's what the organization deserves.
On The Job
Size of IT team: Several hundred people would be full time, plus contractors for help desk and customer support. We use consultancies, we do some outsourcing, we use co-located data centers.
The top four on my radar screen:
Number one is to enable the sharing of our intellectual property across our innovative engineering base globally and to do that better each year. We've got about 18,000 patents. Seventy-seven percent of our workforce are engineers.
Number two: Those teams have to work together globally. So creating a collaboration environment that allows them to work together virtually and seamlessly across the globe.
Three is facile customer support. We have some big, capable competitors and we have to be right there in terms of customer service and responsiveness.
Fourth is continuing to improve our business processes across the enterprise.
What I want from tech vendors:The wise-guy answer is suppliers who use Broadcom chips in their boxes for communication. I always go looking for that. In all sincerity, we're looking for solid rapport and responsiveness, but also looking for best practices sharing. How do you run your business, what lessons have you learned? And strategic engagement from our suppliers. Do you understand our mission and can you bring products to bear to help us achieve that mission?
Most disruptive force in my industry: If you look at IT in general, the most disruptive force is this notion of cloud computing. But cloud computing is often misunderstood. There's private cloud and public cloud. Getting that right and leveraging virtualized computing and global resource footprints is critical to success.
Most overrated IT movement: We go through generations of overrated technology. Here's the one I think gets a lot of hype: BYOD. What a troublesome challenging reality that creates. It has great capability for the workforce. It's a powerful tool set; let's leverage it.
Degrees: BS in engineering from Loyola University Maryland, MS in materials engineering from the University of Virginia, MBA from University of Central Florida.
Person I'd like to have lunch with: Condoleeza Rice. Look at how she advanced as a person from very average upbringing to creating amazing results in the world, while doing it with dignity and distinction.
First job: I was 15 turning 16 and worked as a hired hand at a plant nursery in Maryland. My very first function was showing up to unload fir trees from a Wisconsin Christmas tree truck, drilling holes in the bottom of a tree and standing 'em up. I still love horticulture and plants and agriculture.
If you weren't doing what you do: I think being CIO is probably the best job there is. It's a great job to have! I would be closely connected to technology in some job function. Probably be in an R&D function or teaching at a university, with a Ph.D. in something technical, or I'd be involved in driving a product line.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.