Lightning Rod No Longer

Former Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn, cleared of ethics charges, exits the public sector, but shares his experiences with kids on the speaking circuit.
Although Quinn was cleared of charges, the allegations had taken "a mental and physical toll," he says. "I clearly wanted to spare my family any more of this baloney. Also, it was difficult to get anything done. I had become a lightning rod." So, in mid-December, he disclosed his resignation and left the post a few weeks later, in January.

"We were always very careful who paid for things," he says. Even when he attended Red Sox and Patriot games with Verizon, "I paid for my own tickets," he says. Same holds true when he went golfing with friends who worked at vendors. "I always wrote a check for the green fees," he says. "We wanted to be as vendor neutral as possible; we spent a lot of time thinking about it," he says. "We didn't do everything perfect, but we tried to be as clean as possible."

Scrutiny in the government is more intense than in the private sector, where there is generally more leeway with vendor relationships. "It's the nature of the beast--you end up with great friends at vendors. But it's always significant not to solicit" favors, he says. "If your hand is open to solicit for yourself, shame on you."

Set The Moral Compass Early

Since resigning from his job, he's still on the public speaking circuit, talking about open source and standards-based technologies, including a recent trip to Australia. He also shares his experiences with younger people, including inner-city kids who belong to a Boston program called Year Up, which provides mentoring, internships, and technology training to help young adults land jobs.

"I tell these kids that the moral compass starts early," he says. "If you pad your expense reports, then your time sheets, you'll start developing an attitude that 'the company owes me,' and move on to bigger stuff," he says. "You don't want to do that."

Later this month, Quinn relocates to Columbus, Ohio, to start a new job as a senior VP of business systems at Bisys Group, a hedge fund firm.

There, he'll work with shareholder record-keeping systems, strategy, and operations, and will report to an executive VP on the business side of the company, rather than its CIO. The job takes Quinn back to his roots in IT in the financial services industry. Before taking the CIO post in Massachusetts, he had worked at credit card companies and banks.

Quinn is looking forward to getting back into business IT, rather than just speaking about it. Says Quinn, "I want to be a practitioner, not just a talking head."