Talk to any General Motors business-technology manager about Ralph Szygenda for more than a few minutes and the word "intense" is bound to come up. But somewhere in the conversation, the words "funny," "friendly," or "great leader" also are sure to come up.
That's what the people who work for the CIO at GM think about our Chief of the Year, the person we consider the most innovative and influential business-technology leader for 2002. It's not unlike how people outside of GM view him. "He has the technical smarts to know intuitively what's the appropriate direction for his company," says Bob Rubin, CEO of Valley Management Consultants. "At the same time, he interacts well with people and provides the leadership that separates the superior CIO from the adequate one."
Indeed, to me, Ralph is what business technology is all about. He (and the people who work on his team) is knowledgeable about technology-systems, architecture, infrastructure, services, you name it. But at the end of the day, what matters most is getting business results. Ralph doesn't simply run a technology organization. He's in the business of designing and selling better cars. He and his team help do that by slashing the time it takes to develop a car from 48 months to less than 18 and cutting the time to deliver a car to a dealer from 70 days to 30. "He and his team deserve a lot of credit for enabling GM to move much faster, particularly in responding to changing market demands," says GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. "This focus on speed and leveraging the talents of GM's employees around the world has been a critical driver for change at GM."
In Ralph's words: "We want to be the best automotive company in the world and to be a real-time company." Read more about our inspiring Chief of the Year on p. 34 and also at "Time Trials" (June 3, p. 36).
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