IT leaders share their top priorities, biggest mistakes, and career dreams if they weren't a CIO.
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CIO, Sidley Austin
CAREER TRACK How long at current company: I've been at Sidley Austin, an international law firm, for 10 years.
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Our ability to improve user services without increasing IT costs. By significantly reducing costs in tactical areas, we're able to reallocate and redeploy financial and personnel resources to strategic initiatives.
Most important career influencer: A former Arthur Andersen manager taught me that delivery of service is one of the most important qualities of a successful professional. But to deliver what clients want, you must first listen to their problems before offering answers.
Decision I wish I could do over: I'd focus more on working directly in the areas of sales and marketing operations to further enhance my understanding of the demand and revenue side of the business, as well as running a world-class IT organization.
ON THE JOB IT budget: $10 million
Size of IT team: More than 200
How I measure IT effectiveness: Surveys, focus groups, and personal interactions with our lawyers and clients.
• Data center consolidation;
• High-definition videoconferencing;
• User experience and productivity improvements
VISION Advice for future CIOs: Understand the needs of users and clients versus their wants. Much of my time is aimed at IT direction and keeping resources focused. It's very easy to get team members distracted by having resources focused on the latest and greatest gadgets or technology, which may have limited overall value for the company.
The next big issue for my industry: Consumerization of IT products and services into the place of business will place tremendous strain on IT organizations to support consumer products in a secure, operationally efficient, and cost-effective manner.
Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Continue to focus on your staff. Without making sure you have the right team, it's very hard to ensure you're delivering a quality product or service to your internal and external clients and customers.
Kids and technology careers: Much of technology will become commoditized over time. I'd have my kids focus more on the interactions and use of technology to support and enhance their chosen careers rather than on technology by itself.
PERSONAL Colleges/degrees: University of Illinois, BS in finance; DePaul University, MBA/MIS.
Leisure activities: Jogging, tennis, and boating
Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: John Chambers of Cisco--his ability to move such a large organization toward new markets and products and his focus on innovation are amazing
Business pet peeve: Overusing buzzwords
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a vintner (or, more realistically, a wine guide in Napa)
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.