CIO Profiles: Donagh Herlihy Of Avon Products

A focus on growth is essential right now, says Herlihy.

Career Track

Donagh Herlihy, Senior VP and CIO, Avon Products

Donagh Herlihy
Senior VP and CIO, Avon Products
How long at current company: Two and a half years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Developing three of my direct reports at my last company, Wrigley, so that they could become CIOs, one as my successor and the other two at different companies.

Most important career influencer: Ian Pepe, a former boss in the U.K. He ran IT at Lucas Industries, but he also understood the business operations and took the lead on a number of business issues. This posture--an IT leader as both a business leader and a technology leader--has impacted how I view my role and myself.

Decision I wish I could do over: When I was 25, I dropped out of an executive MBA program because my employer at the time halted its financial support. I figured that I'd complete it later but never did. Later in my career, I completed the executive program at the University of Michigan, and realized how much I had missed by not completing my MBA earlier.

On The Job

Size of IT team: More than 1,000

Top initiatives:

  • Customer Connect is series of technology-enabled solutions to capture customer data, track relationships between each customer and her Avon representative, and reattach customers whose reps have left to other suitable people.
  • Today's customers and reps expect to place an order online and get it delivered at home within 24 hours. Our Service Model Transformation initiative addresses this expectation, and it will be a major IT program investment for us over the next three years.
  • We're working on a number of programs to bring our direct selling model fully online to make it easier for our representatives to manage their businesses.


Advice for future CIOs: Work outside IT for at least three years in a function that's critical to revenue growth for your business. Become an expert in that area and become perceived as a business leader who happens to have tech expertise.

Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Find the growth levers for your business, and create relevant capabilities to enable growth. Moving from a primary focus on efficiency to a focus on growth is critical right now.


Colleges/degrees: Dublin Institute of Technology, BSc in engineering

Leisure activities: Tennis, travel, reading

Favorite president: John F. Kennedy: His family came from my home town area of Wexford in Ireland, and I grew up in an environment where he was deeply respected

Best book read recently: The Big Short, by Michael Lewis

If I weren't a CIO, I'd ... own a vineyard

Ranked No. 42 in the 2010

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