CIO Profiles: Patti Reilly White, Senior VP And CIO Of Darden Restaurants - InformationWeek

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12/3/2009
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CIO Profiles: Patti Reilly White, Senior VP And CIO Of Darden Restaurants

This CIO wishes she'd taken advantage of the opportunity to try on different roles within the company.

Career Track

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PATTI REILLY WHITE
Senior VP and CIO, Darden Restaurants
How long at current company: 20 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: The development and implementation of what we call our "next-gen point-of-service" system. It's the nerve center of our operation, letting our managers and staff focus on pleasing our guests. Our team deployed the system to 1,300 restaurants in 21 months, expanding the role of traditional point of sale and finding innovative methods to simplify efforts for our restaurant teams so they can focus on delivering an exceptional guest experience.

Most important career influencer: An incredible female leader and one of my former bosses, Linda Dimopoulos, who led by example and taught me to be passionate about our business, stretch beyond my comfort level, own my decisions, and find my voice.

Decision I wish I could do over: Darden has offered employees the opportunity to rotate into other parts of the business to grow and develop broader skills. It never seemed like the right time in my career to take advantage of this, but I wish I had. I believe it would make me a stronger CIO today if I had worked in a key area, outside of IT, for one of our brands.

Vision
The next big thing for my industry will be ... leveraging the advancement of the "consumerization" of IT.

The best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Difficult times bring to life true creativity; talk to your teams about their ideas for making IT more cost effective and efficient.

Kids and technology careers: One of my three grown sons decided to pursue a technical career. However, my advice to my boys has always been: Find something you can be passionate about and go for it.

On The Job
Size of IT team: 170 full-time employees

Top initiatives:

>> We're embarking on a major transformation in our supply chain area that requires and leverages technology to achieve our business objectives. This year, we begin with foundational elements that include more robust forecasting tools and a Web-enabled product and pricing catalog system.

>> We're implementing table management in several of our brands to improve our understanding of how long customers are waiting and improve our wait management processes.

>> We're adding tools to help us better understand guests who visit our restaurants.

How I measure IT effectiveness: We use several methods and metrics to measure our effectiveness. Using identifiable targets, we track how our team spends their time on value-creating initiatives and measure whether our initiatives are delivered on time and within budget. Overall internal client satisfaction with our IT services is the foundation that must be delivered consistently to allow us to work on initiatives that drive the business.

Personal
Colleges/degrees: University of West Florida, bachelor of science, accounting information systems

Favorite sport: College basketball

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox

Smartphone of choice: iPhone

Best book read recently: An Echo In The Bone, by Diana Gabaldon

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a photographer

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