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IT Leadership // Digital Business
08:06 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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InformationWeek Chiefs Of The Year: Where Are They Now?

The execs who have earned InformationWeek's Chief of the Year title are a diverse bunch. Here's a look at what 10 top CIOs are doing today.
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When we interviewed Bank of America's Cathy Bessant, this year's InformationWeek Chief of the Year, she briefly turned the tables and asked us a question: What stands out over the years among the CIOs chosen for this recognition? After thinking the question over a bit, InformationWeek editor in chief Rob Preston responded: "For one thing, they do things their own way."

[ Read the related feature story, IT Chief Of The Year: Bank Of America's Cathy Bessant. ]

Look at our honorees over the past 20 years and you'll find no cookie-cutter pattern. There's not a dominant IT strategy -- some Chiefs of the Year were adamantly against IT outsourcing, for example, while some made outsourcing core to their innovation plans. There's also no standard resume. Some Chiefs moved up the IT ranks, some through various business units (even -- gasp! -- marketing).

That same career diversity holds true of Chiefs after they were honored. Some moved on to broader executive roles. Former Schwab CIO Dawn Lepore became a CEO, former Starbucks CIO Stephen Gillett became a COO. Others who remained CIOs, such as GM's Randy Mott and FedEx's Rob Carter, redefined their charters or branched into other roles along the way. Some, such as Gillett and Eli Lilly's Roy Dunbar, went on to work for tech vendors; others, such as former Chase CIO Denis O'Leary, stepped out of daily business operations and became board members and investors.

Lepore, Mott, Carter, Wal-Mart's Linda Dillman, and Procter & Gamble's Filippo Passerini were honored after spending 15 years or more at a single company, showing the value of understanding a company's culture and an industry's dynamics. While an outside change agent, like Gillett was at Starbucks, can sometimes provide the right ingredient, that's the exception.

We asked this year's Chief of the Year -- Bessant, who led a number of Bank Of America business units before getting tapped to head IT and operations -- whether she aspires to become CEO of BoA. No, she replied, saying the 24/7, all-consuming demands of that position aren't for her, even though she's a hard-charger herself.

What follows is a "where-are-they-now?" look at the career paths of past InformationWeek Chiefs of the Year. We've selected Chiefs of the Year since 1986, sometimes with multiple selections in a single year, as we did in 2001 and 2013. Here are just 10 of those leaders.

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
12/3/2014 | 10:06:36 AM
Re: And one more nominee... Paccar's Kyle Quinn
PACCAR has done impressive work under Kyle Quinn's leadership, indeed. Quinn actually wasn't a chief of the year -- PACCAR was the No. 1 company in the InformationWeek annual ranking of IT innovators. By chance, we have an article today highlighting the work Quinn and the team did there, along with 4 other recent No. 1 companies: 
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 8:07:50 PM
And one more nominee... Paccar's Kyle Quinn
No one has asked for a baker's dozen here, but I wanted to nominate an additional name, Kyle Quinn, CIO at Paccar, in addition to these fine selectees. He had to supply manufacturing systems to a new tupe of truck engine plant in Columbus, Ind., after coping with the deep recession of 2008-2009, while installing SmartNav and NavPlus navigation systems into the dashes of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. Some innovation required. And I believe he's still coming back for more at Paccar's Renton, Wash., headquarters.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/2/2014 | 1:12:01 PM
So many paths, so many playbooks
It's interesting to see the diversity of paths and playbooks in this "where-are-they-now" collection. Mott, for instance, has relied again and again on centralized control of IT and centralized (enterprise data warehouse) analytics for insight into customers and efficient operations.

It's notable, too, that even super-well-run companies like P&G have to mix things up to dance to the tune of investors. How many companies are splitting up or spinning out bits and pieces because single-digit growth and profitability just aren't good enough? It's not just fast-changing technology that has everyone shifting; it's also ever-changing competition and evolving attitudes about sound corporate direction.

Fasten your seatbelts, CIOs and would-be CIOs. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
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