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How 7 Hall of Fame CIOs thrive by evolving

Mary K. Pratt | Aug. 2, 2016
The 2016 inductees to the CIO Hall of Fame achieve longevity and success by continually adapting as the CIO role evolves.

A little help from the CEO

Several of this year's inductees say their success also comes in part from working for companies where CEOs encourage technologists to contribute beyond IT.

Robert Urwiler recalls his time as CIO at Macromedia as "a period of my career that was very influential in how I think about the technology and business. I wasn't developing products, but I was in a creative company full of creative people. Being immersed in that environment changed my way of thinking about what technology could do. It made me realize that we could create new experiences using technology; we weren't just implementers."

Urwiler, now executive vice president and CIO at Vail Resorts, says he continues to be inspired to expand.

"I work for a creative CEO who has high expectations about what technology can do, and I have a peer group that has high expectations. They don't think of IT as strictly back office. They expect us to be partners in innovation," he says. "My peers and my boss are driven, creative, innovative people, and they expect me to be a partner on that journey. The culture has a lot to do with how successful an IT organization can be in truly being part of and on the forefront of business transformation."

An ever-expanding role

The amount of technology-driven transformation happening today certainly means the CIO's responsibilities will continue to expand.

Indeed, Hall of Fame inductee Albert Hitchcock is experiencing that now.

Hitchcock, 51, joined Pearson PLC as CIO in February 2014 but had his title changed to chief technology and operations officer in January 2016 to reflect his role's growing responsibilities, which now include digital product development.

"Today the technology strategy is part of the business strategy. It's not separate. In the past, CIOs might have been asked their opinions on business strategy; now they help create strategy. And at Pearson my role is front and center with the future success of the company," he says.

As for what it takes to get to that point, Hitchcock, like the other inductees, credits his skills, mindset and willingness to seek out the right experiences.

"It's about building on existing experiences and taking those to the next level. I gained credibility as we delivered more change," he says. "And it's putting the customer at the center of everything we do. I've learned to look at it from a customer standpoint. That's a theme that has come through my successive roles. And the second thing I've learned is the value of talent. You need a great team. Everything I've done up to this point was learning the importance of those things."

 

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