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April 9, 2010
3 Min Read
Randall C. Poppell, CIO, UniGroup
How long at current company: Nine years at UniGroup, the parent company of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Developing a strong architectural and governance framework that has provided the foundation for industry-leading innovation and competitive advantage. The framework has led to a solid partnership between the business units and IT while enabling improved strategic alignment.
Decision I wish I could do over: Earlier in my career, I was in a major company that experienced difficulties, and loyalty to the company prompted me to stay longer than I should have. You have to be objective about the future and understand that nothing is forever--particularly when it involves your career.
On The Job
IT budget: $30 million
Size of IT team: 180
How I measure IT effectiveness: There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of IT. From a financial perspective, running IT like a business and managing to the bottom line provides a strong foundation. Operationally, delivering projects on time and below budget is essential to build credibility with business partners. But the foremost measurement of IT effectiveness is your business partners' assessment of whether the technology investment is generating the expected business value.
Advice for future CIOs: CIOs have to not only be part of the executive team but provide a key enterprise leadership role by developing a unique understanding of the business issues and finding solutions where technology can better enable the business. It's equally important to surround yourself with dedicated people who can execute technology to achieve the business vision.
The next big thing for my industry will be ... changing the business model. The need for process change and innovation is great, and as nontraditional companies find more effective ways to service customers, competition will get more intense.
Best way to cope with the economic downturn: It's important to remain focused on adding value to the business while at the same time paying attention to resource management and continuous improvement opportunities.
Kids and technology careers: Opportunities will be abundant for those who choose to pursue tech careers. Even if kids are unsure, the analytical, organizational, and problem-solving skills learned in math and science course work will serve them well in any career.
Colleges/degrees: Webster University, MA in computer systems management; Murray State University, BS in agribusiness and systems management
Favorite president: Ronald Reagan, because he understood leadership in that he led from the heart, but with strength and conviction
Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Warren Buffett
Pet peeve: Those in leadership positions who don't have a sense of urgency
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... an entrepreneur
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