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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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Senior VP and CIO, Acxiom

CAREER TRACK
How long at current company: I've spent 18 months at Acxiom, a global intractive marketing services company.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: At a former company, getting to the No. 1 spot on the InformationWeek 500 ... twice.

Most important career influencer: David Fuente, CEO at Office Depot, because he taught me that there shouldn't be a distinction between the way you treat people at work and the way you treat people at home. He's a great business leader and an even better man.

Decision I wish I could do over: Leaving a CIO role at a Fortune 500 company to chase an entrepreneurial dream.

Also, while every career move was a step up, sometimes I wish I'd moved my family around less. That's the wisdom of hindsight.

ON THE JOB
IT budget: About $350 million

Size of IT team: 1,500 employees

Top initiatives:

  • Support company Insights Factory strategy

  • Further the use of infrastructure virtualization

  • Develop integrated suite of products and services around service-oriented architecture

  • Rearchitect our 10-year-old cloud computing platform

How I measure IT effectiveness:

  • Cost reduction--expense as a percentage of revenue by line of business

  • Customer service-level agreement attainment

  • Fiscal responsibility--consistently beat budget

  • Security--external and internal vulnerabilities reduced, independent audit confirmation

  • Project excellence--on time, within budget, goals achieved

VISION
Advice for future CIOs: Change careers! Other than that, stick up for your convictions and stand up for the people who make you successful.

What the federal government's top technology priority should be: Vivek Kundra is a great leader who doesn't need any advice from me--our country is lucky to have him at the helm. My advice to our government leaders would be: Listen to him. I've had the pleasure of meeting him at the White House and find him to be singularly impressive.

Kids and tech careers: I wouldn't steer kids toward a technology career. The pinnacle of the career is CIO, which jokingly stands for Career Is Over. I've experienced the pressures generated by the unrealistic expectations behind that joke--needing to be perfect, fast, and cheap in a world where complexity and lack of consensus around requirements work against those expectations.

PERSONAL
Colleges/degrees: Yale, BA with honors; PhD at Yale not completed

Favorite sport: Golf

Tech vendor CEO I respect the most: Apple's Steve Jobs, for having the consumer's pulse

Favorite president: Abraham Lincoln, for his courage of conviction amid tumultuous upheaval

Biggest business pet peeve: Corporate antibodies that fight change and transformation

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a Latin percussionist!

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