CIO Values: John Lambeth, Senior VP And CIO, Erickson Retirement Communities

He advises aspiring tech leaders to take calculated risks and step outside their comfort zone.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 14, 2008

3 Min Read

Career Track

JOHN LAMBETHSenior VP and CIO, Erickson Retirement Communities

How long at current company: Nine months. Prior to that, I held positions in IT leadership at Blackboard, Cigna, and Xerox.

Most important career influencer: Patricia Wallington, former Xerox CIO, sponsored me as a young manager through an overseas assignment in Australia. Her unique leadership style has influenced my style and career direction. She also invested in me as a charter member of the Society for Information Management's Regional Learning Forum, an 18-month program that she co-founded. Pat is a true leader. She stresses unwavering leadership as a CIO, as well as the critical role of people mentoring.

Decision I wish I could do over: I wish I had taken an assignment I was offered to be CIO in Australia and Singapore. I learned more about pushing the limits of my own risk tolerance working in a different culture than during any other period in my life thus far. Also, it would have been a wonderful life experience for my kids to live in a different culture.


Best advice for future CIOs: Take calculated risks. You grow by stepping way outside your comfort zone. Experience multiple industries. Take an international assignment. Challenge the phrase "we tried that and it didn't work." Focus on your staff. They want leadership, a sense that you care about their development and careers. Above all, be a trusted business partner.

View on offshore outsourcing: Selective outsourcing provides a way to position your core staff to perform key IT relationship, engineering, architecture, and analyst roles. And well-designed outsourcing relationships let you take a strong core team and effectively flex staff size when the need in a particular area surges.

On The Job

IT budget (approximate): About $45 million

Top three initiatives:

  • Establish a sales and marketing IT strategy that supports implementation of new sales force productivity tools, marketing business intelligence, and company-wide customer relationship management.

  • Open a new state-of-the-art data center to support organic growth of Erickson's core business as well as developing enterprises.

  • Integrate electronic medical records throughout Erickson communities linking medical centers, long-term care, and specialists through a health information exchange.

Key tech partners: EMC, GE Medical Systems, HealthMedx, Microsoft, Oracle Personal Colleges/degrees: McDaniel College, BA in chemistry; William E. Simon School, University of Rochester, MBA

Last vacation: Summer vacation unwinding in the island archipelago in southern Finland

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a teaching executive in residence at a college. Perhaps I could be a key influencer on young people's careers.

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