CIO Profiles: Mark Greenlaw, VP And CIO Of Cognizant

Cloud computing will have a huge impact on the IT services industry over the next five years, Greenlaw predicts.
Career Track

Mark Greenlaw, VP And CIO Of Cognizant

Mark Greenlaw
VP And CIO Of Cognizant
How long at current company: Four years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: At a prior company, I worked with one of my direct reports to improve his management and leadership skills to the point where he was able to succeed me when I left that company. I give him most of the credit, but I'm extremely proud of being able to help him be successful.

Most important career influencer: Back in 1989 when I worked at Computer Sciences Corp., I had a project manager, John, who changed my life. He said I should focus on building my presentation, writing, and interpersonal skills, since those would help me in any situation. I took the Dale Carnegie course (and others like it since), and that changed the trajectory of my career.

Decision I wish I could do over: 2003 was a tough year for me when the startup I worked for was acquired and I was laid off. I took a job that wasn't right for me. I stayed only a short time and felt I let down the person who hired me.

The next big thing for my industry will be ... cloud computing. It will have a huge impact on the IT services industry over the next five years.

Would you steer your kids toward a technology career? No, I haven't. I encourage them to find what they are passionate about and pursue it.

How should CIOs cope with the economic downturn? Focus on improving the efficiency of things you did during the economic boom. Over the past several years, we had to implement good solutions quickly. Now we're making these things run more efficiently, improving usability, consolidation, manageability, power consumption, and operating costs.

The federal government's top technology priority should be ... driving the reduction of power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from data centers and computing. The current growth rate of computing-related power consumption isn't sustainable.

On The Job
Top initiatives:

  • Creating an IT ecosystem that will enable a single, simplified view into most of our systems and processes.
  • A broad green IT program including many projects around consolidation, virtualization, energy management, and waste reduction.
  • Deployment of telepresence within the company to reduce our carbon emissions, reduce travel costs, and improve collaboration.

How I measure IT effectiveness:

  • Customer satisfaction, measured by an internal satisfaction survey.
  • Project performance: We measure this using red/yellow/green reporting, schedule variance and budget variance, and actual vs. budgeted project ROI.
  • CEO's view: I want our CEO to think he has the best IT organization (and, hopefully, the best CIO) in the industry.

Colleges/degrees: Business degree from the Pennsylvania State University

Favorite U.S. president: Abraham Lincoln; I saw Doris Kearns Goodwin speak about his leadership qualities at a CIO conference last year and was inspired

Biggest business-related pet peeve:Executives who are so consumed with business that they forget about basic human relations: asking how others are doing and understanding the worth of every individual (employee, customer, vendor, or competitor)

Smartphone of choice: I use a BlackBerry, but I have iPhone envy--though since it's not our corporate standard, I don't use one

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a teacher, or perhaps a bicycle shop owner