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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, Walgreens

CAREER TRACK
How long at Walgreens: About 2-1/2 years at this pharmacy chain.

Most important career influencer: My father. He has had a long career in financial services, and I chose the same industry--I worked 25 years in that field. The benefit of having a parent you can turn to for advice is their sincere honesty. While I've been working for 29 years, I continue to seek his advice to this day.

Decision I wish I could do over: I wish I hadn't allowed the demands of global travel to absorb so much time. It looks glamorous, but it isn't.

ON THE JOB
Top initiatives:

  • We'll complete a program designed to improve employees' personal productivity with technology that will give them new capabilities.
  • We're releasing the initial version of a program tackling the infrastructure in our stores. This includes a new point-of-sale system with expanded capabilities and more efficient energy use, giving our customers a better checkout experience.
  • We're opening a next-generation data center, giving us the additional capacity and support of high-availability applications through redundant processing.

How I measure IT effectiveness: Walgreens measures company goals and divisional goals annually. This past year, the IT department also implemented a customer satisfaction survey measuring IT effectiveness as a primary goal.

We use a series of metrics to measure effectiveness. They focus on human resources, hardware and software utilization, and operating effectiveness. For example, our average hourly cost for app development and maintenance has been reduced by 37% in the past two years.

VISION
One thing I'm looking to do better: Improve our underlying infrastructure. Redundant data centers and new store technologies are a top focus. This includes blade servers in the store, wireless devices for employees, and new point-of-sale technologies. The engineering and product selection is completed, and we're on an aggressive rollout schedule.

Lesson learned from the recession: Our success as a country is not guaranteed. We're still working through economic challenges, but I remain optimistic we will rise to meet them.

What the federal government's top tech priority should be: Provide incentives for investment in innovation that will lead to more jobs.

Kids and tech careers: Our kids are still relatively young, and we've exposed them to the benefits of using technology effectively. It's enjoyable to see what kids can do with their imagination with today's technology. Children can learn and grow if technology is used properly.

PERSONAL
Colleges/degrees: Illinois State University, BA; Harvard Business School, advanced management program

Favorite leisure activity: Golf

Favorite president: Ronald Reagan, for his focus on freedom

Business-related pet peeve: Arrogance by senior leaders, because everyone's success is built with the help of others

Smartphone: iPhone

Computer: iMac

Ranked No. 29 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500

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