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CIO Values: Robert Keefe, senior VP and CIO, Mueller Water Products

Keefe is also the current president of the Society for Information Management
Career Track

Robert Keefe

Robert Keefe
Senior VP and CIO, Mueller Water Products
President, Society for Information Management
How long at current company: 11 months

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: With a deep understanding of the businesses I've been in, I've been asked several times to step out of IT to temporarily run a manufacturing facility and a distribution facility, and to be part of product development and marketing teams.

Most important career influencer: While at Brookhaven National Laboratory, I learned from both staff researchers and visiting scientists (including Nobel laureates) that breadth and depth of knowledge are equally important.

How I measure IT effectiveness:

  • Achieve the highest level of involvement/accountability with management, staff, and business partners in new IT initiatives while flawlessly maintaining current systems and technologies.
  • Are we improving faster than the competition and exceeding our customers' expectations?

On The Job

IT budget: Between 1% and 2% of revenue

Size of IT team: 100-plus (including contractors and outsourced groups)

Three top initiatives for current year:

  • Develop an overall IT strategy, highly aligned to our business strategy
  • Continue to upgrade our people, processes, and technologies
  • Seek to achieve a balanced portfolio of IT initiatives

View on benefits of offshore outsourcing: My SIM colleagues would agree that while lower costs are available for selected areas of IT management, only a small fraction of IT has been moved offshore. So significant IT staffing continues to be required domestically, and it is a great career choice!

Vision
The next big thing for my business will be ... the accelerated replacement of North America's aging water infrastructure.

Best piece of advice for future CIOs: One, understand your profession, your business, and your organization, so you can truly deliver valuable systems, technologies, and business processes. Two, practice purposeful discontentment; strive to continuously improve. Three, leadership and customer satisfaction always go together.

Personal
Colleges/degrees: Bachelor's from the State University of New York at Oswego; master's of business administration from Pace University

Best book read recently: Boiling The IT Frog, by Harwell Thrasher

Last vacation: Skiing with family in January

If I weren't a CIO I would be ... researching the scientific mysteries of existence.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing