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CIO Values: Sam Coursen, VP And CIO, Freescale SemiconductorCIO Values: Sam Coursen, VP And CIO, Freescale Semiconductor

Maintain a balanced focus on the efficiency of IT as a business function and its effectiveness in driving value across all other business functions.

InformationWeek Staff

April 17, 2008

3 Min Read

Career Track

SAM COURSEN, Freescale Semiconductor

Sam Coursen
VP and CIO
Freescale Semiconductor

How long at current company? Three years as Freescale CIO

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Surviving--perhaps even thriving--10 years in the CIO job, including seven years as CIO of NCR.

Most important career influencer: One of the most influential people on my career was the VP of engineering for a major division of AT&T. This person had a huge impact on me during my first job out of school and gave me valuable advice, which I follow to this day. At the time, AT&T was a mammoth organization with many layers of bureaucracy. This executive told me: "About 80% of the people here actively prevent progress from occurring. You want to be in the 20% that drive progress."

Decision I wish I could do over: Early in my career, one of my managers instructed me to fire one of my employees. I didn't feel like it was the right decision, but I went along with it. It bothers me that I didn't advocate for the employee or what I felt was right.


The next big thing for my industry will be ... energy efficiency. It's the No. 1 challenge facing the engineering community, and semiconductors are at the heart of many energy-saving innovations. This is a huge opportunity for our industry, as are health- and safety-related technologies and rising demand for network bandwidth and pervasive connectivity.

Best advice for future CIOs: Maintain a balanced focus on the efficiency of IT as a business function and its effectiveness in driving value across all other business functions.

On The Job

IT budget (approximate): $200 million

Size of IT team: 500 internal employees, 350 dedicated contractors (offshore programmers)

Top three initiatives:

  • Migrating Freescale's supply chain planning operations from disparate, legacy, Cobol systems to a single, global instance of SAP.

  • Advanced Intelligence Manufacturing: A joint manufacturing-IT initiative that uses advanced IT to significantly improve manufacturing efficiency and boost gross margin.

  • An enterprise-wide data and analytics platform to enable faster and more informed business decision making. It combines factory, engineering, and business data into a single data warehouse for cross-domain analytics.


College/degree: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University

Leisure activity: Golf

Best book read recently: A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton G. Malkiel

Last vacation: Europe, including Scotland, Germany, and France

If I weren't a CIO I'd be ... I love being a CIO.

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