January 15, 2009
Harrah's Entertainment CIO Tim Stanley, InformationWeek's 2007 Chief of the Year and the poster executive for business-technology integration, has decided to leave the casino and hotel company, effective Jan. 31.
Stanley says he will use the break to spend more time with his wife and 5-year-old daughter, and to "give back" through educational and philanthropic interests, before embarking on the next stage of his career in the fall. Options include various entrepreneurial ventures or taking on the CEO or COO role at an established company, he says. Before joining Harrah's in 2001 as VP of IT, Stanley had served as a consultant and in IT, R&D, product development, and management roles at organizations including the Air Force, Kimberly-Clark, Intel, and National Airlines. While saying his decision was mostly personal, Stanley also thinks CIOs should consider shaking up their careers after about five years on the job. At Harrah's, Stanley had taken on far more responsibility than most CIOs do, running four separate operations: gaming; a 12-person innovation team; a startup called TRex that's extending the features of the Harrah's customer-loyalty program to external companies; and the 600-employee IT organization. In a memo to employees, Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman -- who shared the stage with Stanley at the InformationWeek 500 Conference in September -- acknowledged Stanley's many contributions, including his leadership of "highly successful systems-integration efforts" following five major acquisitions since 2001. Harrah's reached $10.8 billion in revenue in fiscal 2007 and went private on Jan. 28, 2008, but it has stumbled of late amid the recession. "We believe it's prudent to ensure our costs remain aligned with reduced levels of business activity and that we conserve cash," Loveman said in the company's third-quarter financial statement. Harrah's is due to lay out in a week or two who will succeed Stanley, though it's unlikely it will name just one exec to take on his responsibilities. There are only so many execs with Stanley's chops. Stanley says he's spending much of his final days at Harrah's preparing employees for the transition.
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