CIO Values: Kate McNulty, Senior VP & CIO at Schwan Food

Schwan Food CIO Kate McNulty talks about how she measures success, what she thinks the future will bring, and the support she's received at home.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

September 28, 2007

3 Min Read

Career Track

Kate McNultySenior VP & CIO, Schwan Food

How long at Schwan Food? 2.5 years

How do you define success? I look at employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and the value we bring the business as critical success measures.

Most important career influencer: I've had the opportunity to work with many talented folks, but I would say that my husband has had the most positive influence on my career. He has always been there, encouraging whatever decision I've made. If your personal life supports your aspirations, the work part is easy.

Major decision you wish you could do over: I awarded a small data center outsourcing contract component to a company that talked a good game but wasn't able to deliver the service adequately. While this proved financially beneficial to the company I worked for, the level of service delivered didn't meet the business expectations. The contract was soon awarded to the major outsourcer that had the majority of the IT work for the company.

On The Job

Size of IT team: 300

Top three initiatives for the current year:

• Virtualization: We've been a VMware customer for five years, and we're increasing our usage of virtualization in the data center and the desktop. I expect over the next few years that upward of 50% of the workforce will have a virtualized desktop environment.

• Disaster recovery: We recently sold the in-house facility that comprised our disaster recovery site and are now working with a partner to re-establish this critical component of our environment.

• Fleet management: We have a fleet of approximately 6,500 vehicles and are implementing SAP's fleet management capabilities. This will let us keep track of the life cycle of this business-critical asset.


The next big thing for my industry will be ... predictive analytics. I think overall the industry is good at historical reactive reporting. However, there's a tremendous opportunity to understand past patterns and predict future behaviors.

Best piece of advice for future CIOs: Surround yourself with a great team and be open-minded when listening to how they'd accomplish initiatives. Many times you'll understand an alternative approach that yields the same results. However, ownership is defined at the recommender vs. the approver level.


Colleges/degrees: Rochester Institute of Technology, BS in finance; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, MS in management

Best book read recently: Leadership by Rudolph Giuliani

Favorite sport: Golf

If I weren't a CIO I would be ... a meteorologist. No one expects them to be right all of the time.

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