Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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CIO Profiles: In Their Own Words

IT leaders share their top priorities, biggest mistakes, and career dreams if they weren't a CIO.
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CIO, Sidley Austin

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.

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.
Top initiatives:
• Data center consolidation;
• High-definition videoconferencing;
• User experience and productivity improvements

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.

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)

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