CIO Values: Sue Powers, CIO Travelport GDS - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
06:40 PM

CIO Values: Sue Powers, CIO Travelport GDS

''If you have a committed, well informed, well prepared, and motivated staff, you will be successful.''

Career Track


Travelport GDS
How long at current company: 15 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Developing the company's Internet strategy. We created a number of innovative new products, including e-Pricing, an airline shopping engine; received our first patent for an airline availability cache; and developed numerous monitoring and performance tools as a result of the initiative.

Most important career influencer: Ray Cohen, a former boss at United Airlines. Ray gave me the opportunity to move from IT into the business and sponsored me for several special assignments. Having both business and IT experience really launched my career.

Decision I wish I could do over: I felt strongly that we should develop our own Internet travel booking engine, but a commercial decision was made to use third-party products. That approach failed, and my team was responsible for fixing the situation. I should have been more forceful in making the business case to develop our own solution.

The next big thing for my business will be ... "green" initiatives. This will range from providing carbon-tracker information to corporations and travelers to ensuring that our company, our employees, and the data center operate in a "green" fashion.

Best advice for future CIOs: It's all about the people, and communication is key. Make sure your front-line managers understand the strategy, objectives, metrics, and business drivers. If you have a committed, well-informed, well-prepared, and motivated staff, you will be successful.

On The Job
Size of IT team: More than 700 staff supplemented by more than 500 contractors

Top three initiatives:

  • The globalization of Travelport's airline product offerings, reservations, and departure control.
  • The integration of airline shopping systems so that all of Travelport will use the e-Pricing platform. That involves work in the messaging area to allow transfer of traffic, migration of privatefare data from two proprietary private-fare systems into a single database, and providing new feature sets such as Flex Shopping and Shop by Maximum Fare.
  • Development of our Universal Agent Desktop, a GUI that builds on the strengths of our three core legacy applications, the current desktop applications, and the nextgeneration systems we're developing.

Colleges/degrees: BA in math, Southern Illinois University; MBA, Northern Illinois University

Favorite leisure activity: Spinning class

Last vacation: Spending time in my home in Naples, Fla.

Best book read recently: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a strategy consultant.

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