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5/7/2009
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CIO Profiles: Amin Kassem, Executive VP And CIO Of SHPS

Sometimes, it's best to replace a software vendor, he explains.

Career Track

Ed Trainor, CIO Of Amtrak

Amin Kassem
Executive VP And CIO Of SHPS

How long at current company: 10 years

Career accomplishments I'm most proud of: My involvement with two entrepreneurial endeavors. At Exchange Data, we started one of the first e-commerce companies and sold it to Agiliti. At eBenX, I played the critical role in aligning the company's technology and operations to deliver innovative products and position the company for its initial public offering in December 1999.

Most important career influencer: David Messick, professor of leadership and ethics at Kellogg School of Management. He taught me two important things. First, leaders are produced by the circumstances of their lives and environment rather than taught. Second, leaders aren't perfect. They make mistakes, and good leaders learn from their mistakes.

Decision I wish I could do over: A major software vendor tried to change a software licensing model on already licensed software in order to charge higher fees. After we obtained bids from competitors, it quickly stopped its efforts to change the licensing model and I kept the software. I wish I'd replaced the vendor, as it wasn't serving as our business partner. Thankfully, its technology plays a less critical role in our current technology strategy.

Vision
The next big thing for my industry will be ... patient-centric health care, with IT solutions that support holistic management of a patient's health. Today, health care resembles the U.S. banking system in the 1960s: bureaucratic, fragmented, and impersonal. The industry has spent billions on IT, with limited benefit to physicians or patients. The future of health care IT will be modular, open platforms built around the holistic management of a patient's health, aligning delivery of care with personal health needs.

Advice for future CIOs: Know your industry. You're no longer the IT guy only. An effective CIO must know the business operations with a high level of intimacy. Also, partnering with your peers will help bridge many of the traditional divides between IT and the rest of the business.

On The Job
Size of IT team: 320 IT pros (including developers, analysts, etc.)

Top initiatives:

  • Improve operational efficiency by developing technology to reduce implementation time and cost.
  • Deliver a customer data integration framework for multiple platforms using multiple technologies.
  • Deliver a next-generation care management system that lets individuals take control of their health care decisions.

How I measure IT effectiveness:

  • Capital productivity: Making sure developers are working on development projects.
  • Repeat work: The ratio of the number of bug fixes to new development.
  • Agility: The ability to respond to client needs quickly and accurately.

Personal
Colleges/degrees: BS, computer science and engineering, University of Minnesota; executive MBA, Northwestern University/Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Leisure activities: Cooking, soccer, hiking, and travel

Last vacation: Family trip and hiking through the Canadian Rockies

Best book read recently: Team Of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Smartphone of choice: BlackBerry for business use and iPhone for personal use (need to keep them separate!)

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a chef

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