CIOs must look at what is truly core to their function, Barbour advises. It's time for some tough decisions.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

March 31, 2011

3 Min Read

Career Track


Sondra Barbour CIO, Lockheed Martin


Sondra Barbour
CIO, Lockheed Martin

How long at current company: 24 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Back in 2008, Lockheed Martin decided to merge three groups under the office of the CIO. I've had the privilege of leading this team since that merger and have watched three cultures come together to focus on four main cultural attributes: accountability, trust, partnership, and innovation. We now have a common vision and are working to realize cost savings and to increase service levels through transparency and accountability.

Most important career influencer: My mom. She instilled in me the belief that there wasn't anything I couldn't do if I put my mind to it. That's been a driving force throughout my career.

Vision

Advice for future CIOs: Your success depends on the strength of your relationships. You can have the greatest ideas and technology, all the shiny toys, but if you don't have the trust of your business leaders you won't get very far.

The next big thing for my industry: A lot of CIOs need to look at what services their teams provide that are "core" and what services aren't and could be performed by someone else. This kind of evaluation allows you to increase your effectiveness while reducing cost. With the current rate and pace of change, it's become critical to at least take a look at these things and make some tough decisions.

Best way to cope with the economic downturn: Today's economy requires CIOs to be realistic. You've must ask yourself, "Is that really necessary?" and "What can be put on the shelf or stopped?" Take inventory and make the tough decisions. That said, we shouldn't mortgage our future for a few dollars today. It's critical to focus on reducing your operational and maintenance costs in order to self-fund investments that will help you stay ahead of the curve.

The federal government's top tech priority should be ... What I'm hearing from our federal government customers is a need to focus on affordability and cybersecurity, and I agree they're two of the biggest technology priorities.

On The Job

Top initiatives:

  • Completing the consolidation of 40 applications into a single corporate-wide procure-to-pay system.

  • Consolidating our data centers.

  • Continuing the evolution of our cybersecurity defenses.

How I measure IT effectiveness: When the phone isn't ringing, things must be going well. In all seriousness, we use the standard litany of IT metrics, but I personally track how often our company's business areas are calling on us to support efforts related to their external customers. This helps me understand if we're acting as an effective resource account for them. I also look at how effectively we're reducing our operational and maintenance budgets while increasing our investment budgets. Personal

Colleges/degrees: Temple University, dual major in computer information sciences and accounting

Leisure activities: Watching my kids play sports--that's where you'll find us on the weekends

Business pet peeve: I wish we could get rid of the "reply all" button on email or at least help people understand when it's unnecessary to reply to everyone

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a chef-- I love to cook and entertain

Ranked No.46 in the 2010 InformationWeek 500

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