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CIO Profiles: Manjit Singh, CIO Of Chiquita Brands International

William Shatner helped this CIO on the road to a tech career.
Career Track

Manjit Singh, CIO, Chiquita Brands International

Manjit Singh
CIO, Chiquita Brands International
How long at current company: 3-1/2 years

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: The formation of a strong partnership between the business units and IT through the introduction of a strong IT governance process. For example, the formation of a portfolio review committee, steering committees, and a matrix model that maintained our ROI with the business.

Most important career influencer: William Shatner. When I was in my formative years, I was enthralled with the concept of the personal computer. I saw Shatner hawking the Commodore VIC-20 computer, and although I'd never even seen Star Trek at the time, there was something about the ad that got me to ask my parents to buy one. That firmly set me on the IT path.

Vision
Advice for future CIOs: Always be open to new ideas, even if they don't make immediate sense.

The next big thing for my business will be ... the implementation of seed-to-shelf traceability for all fresh produce.

Best way for CIOs to cope with the economic downturn: Remain focused on adding value to your business and not simply being a service provider. Now is the time for you to help your business leap over its competitors.

The federal government's top technology priority should be ... to fund upgrades and improvements in the country's aging technology infrastructure and systems: broadband, wireless, homeland security, etc.

Kids and technology careers: A tech career can be incredibly rewarding if you focus on having a broader impact by leveraging technology.

On The Job
Size of IT team: Enough to get the job done--approximately 220.

Top initiatives:

>> Hyperion Financial Planning: To improve our forecasting and budgeting processes.

>> Enterprise data warehouse: This is an initiative to build an enterprise data warehouse to support extensive business intelligence capabilities. Doing this will allow real-time access to pertinent data that lets the business make at-the-moment decisions.

>> Support for our expanding operations in new markets: For Chiquita, the biggest challenge is usually enabling access to our enterprise systems from remote locations in a cost-effective manner.

How I measure IT effectiveness: The most basic, yet important, metric I use is the number of business partners who seek me out to discuss new business initiatives and how IT can help support them, versus the number who seek me out to complain about IT service delivery.

The other basic metric used is service calls. Tracking service calls provides details on a number of important factors: uptime of critical systems, problem systems requiring significant work, vendor issues, etc.

Personal

Colleges/degrees: Binghamton University, BS in mathematics/ computer science; Indiana University, MS in computer science

Leisure activity: Tennis

Tech vendor I respect most: Steve Jobs, for taking technology from ordinary to extraordinary

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Jim Kilts, former CEO of Gillette

Smartphone of choice: BlackBerry

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a venture capitalist