IT leaders share their top priorities, biggest mistakes, and career dreams if they weren't a CIO.
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Senior VP of Technology Products, Asurion
CAREER TRACK How long at current company: I've been with Asurion, which provides insurance on tech equipment, for six years.
Most important career influencers: At Morgan Stanley, first Tony Lantz for helping me learn how to communicate effectively, show a sense of urgency, and prioritize my work. Then Kevin Parker, who helped me understand how to align technology with business objectives and to make IT an enabler--that is, how to turn information into knowledge to run businesses more effectively.
Decision I wish I could do over: Leaving a firm after 12 years because I became impatient. I could have waited longer for senior management to make the changes needed to effect the necessary improvements in our operating model. In retrospect, this wasn't the best move for me--though the learning experience resulting from the move was a valuable lesson and helped me become a more effective manager in international markets.
ON THE JOB IT budget: $110 million of operating expenses
Size of IT team: 900, including contractors
• Focus on the company's customer satisfaction goals and client deliverables.
• Support overseas expansion in Asia and Europe.
• Determine the appropriate level of IT risk management in delivering systems availability, secure data, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning
How I measure IT effectiveness: We use several metrics. First, we measure the "productivity" of an IT dollar as invested in improving the company's technology. Second, we track system availability and performance. Third, we use the management tool Net Promoter to measure our service desk and project customer satisfaction levels.
VISION One thing I'm looking to change: I'm focused on improving service delivery with increased predictability when demand is volatile.
Lesson learned from the last recession: During economic downtimes, hire leaders to take advantage of what other companies aren't willing to do. Keep expenses reasonably variable in the event that you need to adjust spending quickly.
The federal government's top technology priority should be ... The government should use automation in order to eliminate waste and errors. In that way, it will be able to return that money to taxpayers, so they can refuel the economy.
Kids and tech careers: I don't think I'd steer kids toward a technology career. The CIO job is the toughest in a company, and it requires constant education of leadership. It taxes all aspects of an individual's core values and skills, and requires tremendous energy, intellectual horsepower, and a very thick skin.
Colleges/degrees: SUNY Albany, BS in business administration and a minor in computer science
Favorite pro sports coach: Vince Lombardi, for inspiring his players to achieve what seemed impossible
Business-related pet peeve: Those who refuse to understand the potential benefits that technology can bring
Tech vendor I admire: Steve Jobs for consumerizing technology
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... an auto racer or doctor (they may actually go hand in hand!)
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.
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