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CIO Profiles: John Tonnison Of Tech Data

Big data is nothing new, notes this CIO.

Career Track

John Tonnison, Executive VP and CIO, Tech Data

John Tonnison
Executive VP and CIO, Tech Data

How long at Tech Data: I've been with this distributor of tech products for 11 years.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I'm very proud of the growth and success of a few great colleagues whose IT careers I had the opportunity to help kick off.

Decision I wish I could do over: I administered the winding down of operations and sale of a former company. The negativity of that assignment made it starkly clear to me that my energy comes from creating and building. It took awhile for me to shake off that experience.

Most important career influencer: Mark Mulford, former managing director at Frontline Distribution in the U.K. When I was his IT director, he took it on himself to teach me the whole business. I still help myself out of impasses by asking, "What would Mark do?"

On The Job

IT budget: More than $100 million

Size of IT team: More than 400 globally

Top initiatives:

  • Integrating a series of recently acquired businesses.
  • Leveraging our global SAP capabilities to provide specialized supply chain services to partners.
  • Optimizing our recent SAP module implementation in the U.S. to improve operational efficiencies and customer experience.


Most disruptive force in my industry: Global economic volatility and the resulting effect on consumer confidence have significant influence on our industry, as does the huge growth of tablet computing.

How I give my team room to innovate: As one of our CEO's direct reports, my organization is formally tasked with responsibility for innovation, one of his three strategic imperatives for the corporation (along with execution and diversification). We're not expected to just bring solutions and services to the leadership table, but ideas, challenges and opportunities.

The most overrated IT movement: The idea of "big data" being a new, breakout discipline and movement. We've all been capturing, storing, mining, tuning and looking for patterns in masses of data from the moment we started to measure disk space in terabytes.


The fastest way into my doghouse: To argue against feedback rather than acknowledge it for what it is

Person I'd most like to have lunch with: Jony Ive, senior VP of industrial design at Apple

First job: Studio photographer

Best book read recently: Drift, by Rachel Maddow

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a policeman

Ranked No. 40 in the 2012 InformationWeek 500

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