Very few things in the tech world go according to plan, Harrison warns.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

June 19, 2009

3 Min Read

Career Track

Jason Harrison Worldwide CIO, Mediabrands

Jason Harrison
Worldwide CIO, Mediabrands

How long at current company: Two and a half years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: The young man I've been mentoring since my days at Johnson & Johnson has been accepted at Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

Most important career influencer: My mother, who retired as a division VP of a major healthcare company. My most trusted adviser, she taught me how to focus on what's important and to base all decisions on personal ethics and organizational values.

Decision I wish I could do over: Seven years ago, I was managing the implementation of an investment tracking system for Johnson & Johnson by a small software company. We were 90% done when issues started cropping up--functionality gaps, data incongruities, and promises broken. We spent an enormous amount of time trying to execute that last 10% when we should have had the courage to simply walk away from the colossal failure. Lesson learned.


Advice for future CIOs: Be flexible. Expect change and don't fight it. Very few things in the tech world go according to plan. One day you're implementing an e-mail system, then you need IM, then document sharing, then intranets and social networks. Meeting the business need is the ultimate driver, so you just smile and shift gears.

The next big thing for my industry will be ... proving the value of our media buying decisions amid a rapidly changing media landscape. With funds being scarce, advertisers are questioning their advertising budgets, especially in broadcast and print.

Kids and technology careers: Let's just say my 6-month-old daughter wants the remote control and knows how to use it. Fortunately, her arms are short. If she grows up with an analytical mind, technology is a great place to be. There's no end of compelling problems to solve.

On The Job

IT budget: $50 million, operating and capital

Top Initiatives:

>> Building a strong IT organization for Mediabrands, growing the executive pipeline, and hiring good leaders.

>> Investing in business intelligence to ensure that our decision making is world-class.

>> Driving adoption of our global enterprise social computing initiative.

How I measure IT effectiveness: The first measure is ROI: Do the benefits of the project justify its cost? Does the project lower our operating costs? Does it generate additional revenue? Second, we look at salary and related salary as a percentage of revenue. This is an advertising industry standard that helps you determine whether you're truly improving processes or just throwing people at problems. The third is adoption. If people are happily using a new technology, we believe they're benefitting.


Colleges/degrees: Bachelor's degree, University of Chicago; MBA, Rutgers Business School

Biggest business-related pet peeve: Those one-word reply-to-all e-mails, like "Thanks!" and "Great!"

Tech vendor CEO I respect most: Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, a man of rare vision and authenticity who has engendered fierce loyalty among his employees

Favorite sport: Football--I love the strategic aspect

Personal computer: MacBook Pro

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a high-school history teacher

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