CIO Profiles: John Burns Of Credit Suisse

Looking back, this CIO finds that it doesn't pay to be cautious when driving change.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

May 13, 2010

3 Min Read

Career Track

John BurnsManaging Director of Credit Suisse and CIO of Credit Suisse Investment Bank

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: When I was the Asia-Pacific CIO, working out of Hong Kong, we successfully delivered Credit Suisse's global equity platform throughout the region--from Australia to Mumbai. It proved to be a real lesson in how if you stick to a strategy, you can achieve a lot.

Most important career influencer: Many people have had an impact on my career. One in particular was Steve Landles, who was my manager when I was a consultant at a U.K. professional services firm. He taught me a lot about the value of being able to think on my feet and problem solve under pressure.

Decision I wish I could do over: I've been lucky in this respect. There are some instances, though, where I regret decisions I didn't make. In general, I've found it's wrong to be cautious when driving change. There are moments where I wish I'd made bold decisions sooner--for example, around the implementation of a new operating model and organization.


Advice for future CIOs: Stick to the plan--your plan. It's a volatile world, and you have to deal with the unexpected. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't pursue what you believe is right. The events of the day are unlikely to disprove the rightness of your plan.

What the last few years have taught us ... is that the need for very robust solutions supporting very accurate and critical information is absolutely paramount. This isn't just an IT issue, but from an IT perspective, we have to focus on supporting critical functions--the ones that if they go wrong, threaten the life of the firm.

The next big thing for my business will be ... the increasing convergence in the way business is transacted. We've been very siloed because our products and business are diverse, but there's more and more commonality in the way business is transacted, and electronic trading is becoming more common across all asset classes. We're moving toward a core platform that provides scalability and adaptability, and does it all efficiently and with low touch.

On The Job

IT budget: Nearly $1 billion

Size of IT team: Approximately 4,000+ employees

Top initiatives:


Colleges/degrees: BA in economic and social history from University of Sheffield; MSc in operational research from University of Strathclyde

Favorite sport: Running

Favorite pro team manager: Jock Stein of the Glasgow Celtic Football Club

Best book read recently: 1918: A Very British Victory, by Peter Hart

Smartphone of choice: iPhone

Last vacation: Italy

Personal computer: MacBook Pro

If I weren't a CIO ... I'd have tried my hand at acting

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