IT leaders share their top priorities, biggest mistakes, and career dreams if they weren't a CIO.
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CIO, Qwest Communications
CAREER TRACK How long at current company: I've been with Qwest, the telecommunications carrier, since 2006.
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I'm especially proud of the low-cost, high-value structure we have in my IT group. Qwest's global IT operations utilize strong talent in both the United States and India to provide services at about one-third of the industry norm.
Most important career influencer: At Bell Labs, my boss taught me the value of coupling strong business acumen with IT. He taught me not to get enamored with technology for its own sake but for what it can do for people.
ON THE JOB Size of IT team: I oversee an IT department of about 4,000 Qwest and contract employees with some functions handled by Qwest's strategic partners.
• Increasing our service delivery capacity so Qwest can roll out additional initiatives without increasing budgets. Qwest is embracing cloud computing so that everything is delivered as a service.
• Helping Qwest evolve to be an industry leader in the cloud.
• Turning IT into a source of revenue for the company.
How I measure IT effectiveness: The mission is simple--enable the delivery of a quality customer experience and deliver new customer capabilities. Every efficiency IT introduces means a gain in our ability to do more of just that. For example, through programs like data center consolidation, maintenance cost reduction programs, and server virtualization and consolidation, IT has reduced business costs significantly. This frees up resources that Qwest feeds back into delivering innovative solutions to our customers.
VISION Advice for future CIOs: Stay focused on business results by keeping collaboration, efficiency, and transformation top of mind.
The next big thing for my business: My challenge as CIO is to integrate Qwest's partners and services into competitive offerings. IT fosters the creation of innovative solutions, improves time to market, and helps drive costs out of the business. The variety of rapidly developing technologies will push us to ask, "How do we uniquely make these services work better for our customers?"
Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: To deliver a quality customer experience, critical in tough economic times, get in touch with your best customers to understand their business challenges. Then you show stakeholders how to leverage IT for growth.
The federal government's top technology priority should be ... cybersecurity. As hacking attacks and other threats rapidly evolve, security countermeasures must stay ahead of that constant change. By collaborating with industry, federal agencies can take advantage of our research, development, and innovation to protect the nation's critical infrastructure.
PERSONAL Colleges/degrees: Banaras University, master's in physics; City University of New York, Ph.D. in physics
Leisure activities: Tennis gives me plenty of exercise and motivates me to improve myself in other ways
Tech vendor I respect most: Apple's Steve Jobs has an amazing ability to be creative and constantly delight us
Biggest business-related pet peeve: Sitting through meetings that aren't well thought through with respect to their agendas and desired outcomes
If I weren't a CIO, I'd go into ... a research and a laboratory setting; I'm excited by innovation that pushes the edge of technology frontiers
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.