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5/26/2010
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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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VP of IT and CIO, Toromont Industries

CAREER TRACK
How long at current company: 5 years at Toromont, an industrial machinery and equipment distributor.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: My proud moments come from anecdotes and comments. For example, a recent hire from a competitor remarked about how much more information was available from our IT tools, and that helped him be more successful. That's what it's about--beating the competition with better information and technology.

Most important career influencers: I have three. The first is a cost accounting professor in my MBA program. I don't remember his name, but he scared the crap out of everyone. You either knew your stuff, or got fried like bacon. I still use lessons I learned in that class. The second is an old boss who taught me you can find a positive outlook to just about everything in business. Third is a former manager, when I wasn't working in IT. He was an SOB and tried to sabotage my career. I learned that some walls are made of concrete and can't be moved.

Decision I wish I could do over: A bad hiring decision--it set me back a year and a half.

ON THE JOB
IT budget: About $15 million

Size of IT team: Approximately 50

How I measure IT effectiveness: I monitor traditional spend-to-plan and results-to-plan. However, my key assessment of our group's effectiveness is feedback from senior and line-of-business management. If they're more effective and gaining a competitive advantage, they know it and say so. If not, we have a problem, no matter what the reason.

Top initiatives:

  • Mobility of people Smartphones, netbooks, 3G, 4G, and remote video lead to faster decisions, better customer collaboration, and more efficient resource use.

  • Mobility of things. We're implementing increasingly sophisticated on-board electronics and systems that integrate real-time operating data with management information.

  • Customer connectivity and engagement. Combining these technologies with knowledge-based systems lets us work with customers in very tangible and measurable ways.

VISION
The next big thing for my industry will be ... embedded electronics and machine-to-machine IT. Our business involves selling and servicing increasingly sophisticated industrial equipment. Combined with mobile user devices, connecting people to people and to their assets creates enormous opportunities.

Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Read Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People and focus on the first habit, which is Be Proactive. Concentrate on the things you have control and influence over.

Kids and technology careers: Technology is our future. My oldest son specializes in search engine optimization at an ad agency. I wouldn't steer them in this direction at the cost of some other passion, however.

PERSONAL
Colleges/degrees: University of Toronto, BSc in engineering and MBA

Favorite sport: Ice hockey

Last vacation: Huatulco, Mexico--I like warmer weather

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Kent Kushar of E.&J. Gallo

Business-related pet peeve: The phrase "Someone needs to" and sentences that start with "Yeah, but"

Smartphone of choice: BlackBerry

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... doing something related to marketing

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