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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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CIO, General Motors OnStar

CAREER TRACK
How long at current company: More than six years with General Motors, and 20 years in the automotive IT industry. Currently with GM's OnStar unit, which provides subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security, and emergency services.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Applying IT as part of a life-saving business.

Most important career influencers: My father, a former IT professional in the automotive industry, has given me great advice and guidance throughout my career. He encouraged me to take my first assignment in manufacturing, which allowed me to really learn the car business from the ground up. Also, my wife, who's been with me since the beginning of my career, always gives me straight advice.

Decision I'd like to revisit: Rewriting an enterprise-wide quality and defect-tracking system one more time, versus using software-as-a-service or a commercial, off-the-shelf product.

VISION
Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Find ways to immediately realize cost savings, scaled in line with the downturn in revenue. Also, prepare for the recovery, which there are already signs of.

The next big thing for my business: Building on our core technology and industry leadership in safety and security to deliver new and innovative services in cars and trucks. Also, connecting the vehicle to other cloud-based services that we use to manage our personal and business lives, such as MapQuest, Google, and Facebook.

The federal government's top tech priority should be ... supporting American innovation through American companies. Also, by supporting education at every level, not just post-secondary.

Kids and technology careers: I'd encourage a tech career by exposing them to science and technology, not just IT. Ultimately, they need to decide if a career in a technical discipline is what they want to do for a lifetime. It's important for America's long-term success to continue to encourage our youth to pursue technical career paths. GM volunteers are highly active in the Society of Automotive Engineers' World in Motion program, which promotes student involvement in technology.

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.

ON THE JOB
IT budget: Approximately $250 million

Size of IT team: 130 internal employees, plus around 500 outsourced resources

How I measure IT effectiveness: Information technology is behind the OnStar product, service, and brand reputation. We measure ourselves by the satisfaction of our subscribers and the success of the business. We base this on regular customer satisfaction surveys, ROI on features and investments in service enhancements, service renewals, and typical IT measures such as uptime and system performance.

PERSONAL
Colleges/degrees: University of Toledo, computer science in engineering; University of Michigan, MBA

Favorite sport: Tennis--big fan, poor player

Business pet peeve: Requirements that say things like "new system should work just like old system" or "user friendly"--I still don't know exactly how to code that

Best book read recently: Open, by Andre Agassi

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a race-car driver

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