CIO and Executive VP, Mansfield Oil
How long at current company: Almost four years
Decision I wish I could do over: We waited to launch our startup in 1999 instead of 1998. What a difference a year would have made! We had an actual working Web application in 1998 that we coded in ColdFusion. While others were raising tens of millions of dollars with Power Point presentations, we had something real with live customers testing it for us. It was a big mistake to wait. Now I believe: Go with your gut; be bold; be optimistic; don't listen to naysayers. This is all advice you hear often but don't truly understand until you find out what a year of indecision can cost you.
ON THE JOB
IT budget: About $9 million
Size of IT team: At the peak of 2011, we/ll have 47 full-timers
• Increasing the standard for high availability across the enterprise, leveraging our investment in virtualization.
• Implementing a new platform for commodities trading and bulk inventory management.
• Providing access to fresh data for all systems of record, along with corresponding tools to analyze and visualize data.
The next big thing for my industry: The growth of compressed natural gas and electric vehicles is going to radically change the demand for networked technology solutions that manage the energy supply chain. What is largely disconnected today will be networked, remotely monitored, and, in many cases, controlled.
One thing my company wants to do better this year: We want to service our field offices more effectively. We've grown faster than our IT organization was prepared to support. Field effectiveness for sales force and remote offices has suffered. We're looking for a services partner, with feet on the ground in each market, to be an extension of our internal team.
Lesson I learned from the last recession: Don't stop investing. From 2008 through 2010, we increased our technology investment each year by more than 25%, and we'll be taking a bigger step this year. These are the times when you create competitive separation. Technology is a key way to do that.
The federal government's top technology priority should be ... to prioritize creating more wireless bandwidth availability for new technologies and developing a framework where some amount of bandwidth can be accessed by startups and spur innovation. When a tiny slice costs billions of dollars, we limit ourselves to offerings from the traditional telco providersÑthis is not the path to innovation. Yes, net neutrality is an important issue, but wireless is key to future growth.
Business-related pet peeve: Managers who bring me problems without proposed solutions -- give me options!
Favorite president: George Washington, because starting anything from scratch is hard
Best book read recently: Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Last vacation: Scotland with my entire extended family for the British Open at St. Andrews
If I weren’t a CIO, I'd ... love to run -- another startup