Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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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, CUNA Mutual Group

How long at current company: I've been with CUNA Mutual Group, a financial services provider, for 6-1/2 years.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Developing and implementing a stronger customer perspective within the CIO role after leading customer operations for CUNA Mutual for three years.

Most important career influencer: One of my important career influencers early on was Dennis Kuester, who is now the chairman of the board for Marshall and Ilsley. Over a span of 12 years, I worked for him directly and indirectly in many different and diverse roles. Consistently, he provided sound guidance on leadership, managing organizations, and creating and executing business strategy. He was a pivotal mentor for me who catapulted my career to the next level.

Decision I wish I could do over: We attempted a project replacement without adequate business process engineering. I have new checkpoints in place now to ensure we have the right information and processes for the future.

Advice for future CIOs: Your job is all about people: customers, employees, partners, and peers.

The next big thing for my business will be ... how we can drive revenue growth. For example, how we can leverage new proven technology to deliver revenue that a business unit may not be aware of, like we did with our voice signature technology, which delivered significant improvement in sales.

Best way to cope with the economic downturn: These unprecedented times reinforce the importance that CIOs, and all leaders, must demonstrate to their CEOs and CFOs what cost containment strategies are in place that also drive value and align with business strategies.

The federal government's top technology priority should be ... data integration.

Kids and technology careers: I haven't steered my children toward a tech career, but I wouldn't discourage them either. It has been good to me.

IT budget: $100 million

Size of IT team: 670 employees and contractors

How I measure IT effectiveness: We measure IT effectiveness through the business value is delivered, how the project is aligned with business strategy, and thought leadership in the technology. We use a project scorecard as our gauge for tracking the business results and value. Before a project is approved, it must also have a clear plan to generate business results within six months. If it doesn't, we need to question why we're doing this project.

Top initiatives:

  • Business intelligence

  • Virtualization

  • Sales force automation

Colleges/degrees: Marquette University, MBA in information technology and finance; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, BBA in management information systems

Leisure activities: Competitive sailboat racing and cruising, and some ice boating when the conditions are right!

Biggest business-related pet peeve: Leaders behaving like victims of their circumstances instead of using their circumstances to drive positive change

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a sailing charter boat captain in the Caribbean

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