IT Confidential: SARS Forces The Question On Travel

The important meetings are still conducted in person, Mader says.

John Soat, Contributor

March 4, 2003

2 Min Read

Computer Associates said last week that Henry Kissinger, Nobel laureate, former secretary of state, and former national security adviser, will keynote its annual user-group meeting in Las Vegas in July. Kissinger will speak on "Lessons For A Rapidly Changing World." Kissinger, one of the most influential political figures of the second half of the 20th century, is the subject of a recent controversial documentary movie, The Trials Of Henry Kissinger.

Cinda Hallman, president and CEO of Spherion and former longtime CIO of DuPont, has been named to the board of Toys "R" Us. "Cinda's vast experience and versatility with complex business models, systems, technology, and processes will be of tremendous value to our organization as we continue to move ahead with our strategic initiatives," says John Eyler, chairman and CEO of Toys "R" Us.

Charles Gerhards, former CIO of Pennsylvania, last week launched a technology-consulting firm, Gerhards Consulting Group. Gerhards, who worked as the CIO for former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, now head of Homeland Security, and Ridge's replacement, Mark Schweiker, recently retired after 33 years of public service in the Keystone State. Gerhards also will be working with the Affinity Group of Harrisburg, a Pennsylvania business-consulting firm.

To try and prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the government of Singapore is using thermal-imaging scanners at Changi Airport to screen people for signs of the disease. Passengers who show up on the camera screen with a temperature greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) will be pulled aside for further health checks. According to the Associated Press, transport minister Yeo Cheow Tong said, "There will now be 100% screening for all passengers from SARS-affected areas, including Singapore."

Most executives (61% of 192) have made no changes in business travel plans because of either SARS or the war in Iraq, according to a recent survey by executive search firm Christian & Timbers. But 13% have canceled all travel plans, 11% will travel only domestically, and 15% will travel in the United States and Europe, but not to Asia. "In our own search business, clients and candidates are traveling less and handling business on the phone, conference calls, or videoconferencing. But the important meetings are done in person," Christian & Timbers CEO Stephen Mader says. "However, people are asking, 'Is this meeting really important?'"

Is that a trick question? When it comes to business meetings, important is a relative term--relative to who called the meeting and what's for lunch. What's important to me is an industry tip, and you can send it to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about CIOs as consultants or problems related to (or benefits from) travel restrictions, meet me at's Listening Post:

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