CIO Profiles: Dom Nessi, Deputy Executive Director And CIO, Los Angeles World Airports

Nessi advises would-be CIOs to "embrace a variety of aspects of the CIO position, not just the technical side."

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

April 30, 2009

4 Min Read

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Career Track

Dom NessiDeputy Executive Director And CIO, Los Angeles World Airports

How long at current company: 1-1/2 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I was the first CIO for the U.S. National Park Service. We had a number of Web-related successes, including new Internet and intranet sites using Web 2.0 tools before they were even called Web 2.0.

Most important career influencer: A former boss, Donald J. Dirksen, regional director of housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He always kept the mood light and fun, even when the work was hard and the arrows were flying.

Decision I wish I could do over: If every decision I ever made somehow led up to being the CIO at Los Angeles World Airports, I wouldn't change any decision, because this is a great job.


Advice for future CIOs: Embrace a variety of aspects of the CIO position, not just the technical side. Remember, your peers at the corporate staff meeting aren't technical and may not care for tech talk. Understand what makes your business tick and align IT with the business.

The next big thing for my industry will be... reducing costs through cost-sharing with other organizations that share similar interests and objectives with yours.

Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Demonstrate your support for the organization's overall goals by reducing costs as much as possible. If you still want to be the CIO when times improve, then you have to go with the flow now.

The federal government's top technology priority should be... IT leadership in the federal government is quite talented and could be very effective. Unfortunately, the annual budget cycle is not particularly kind to IT. Somehow, the federal government needs to depoliticize IT.

On The Job

IT budget: $100 million, including capital projects

Size of IT team: 191 great employees

Top initiatives:

>> New data center. We're in the planning stages to replace our outdated, maxed-out data center with a new "green" center.

>> Support of new expansion to Tom Bradley International Terminal. It's time for LAX to recapture its place among international airports as a premier destination, and this is the first step in that process.

>> Improving our security posture through the use of technology by upgrading our current closed-circuit television system, access control, and a host of other security technology-related applications.

How I measure IT effectiveness: We have a detailed IT strategic plan that outlines our critical objectives. Meeting those needs is our primary objective. We have a strong governance process that ensures new IT projects are necessary and achievable.


Colleges/degrees: Northern Illinois University, BA in political science; Roosevelt University, BS in computer science; University of Colorado, master's in public administration

Favorite pro sports team manager: Mike Ditka. He was not only the Bears' coach, he personified Chicago.

Best books read recently: The Traveler and The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks

Favorite U.S. president: It's early, but there's nothing about Barack Obama that I don't thoroughly admire. I believe he will end his two terms as the greatest American president since Lincoln.

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be... retired. I'm at Los Angeles World Airports because it is one of the best tech jobs in the world.

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