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Why the CIO reporting structure matters

Martha Heller | Aug. 11, 2017
Marc Hamer, CIO and CDO of Sealed Air, discusses digital leadership and the importance of working for the CEO.

 

You interviewed for a CIO job but wound up CIO and CDO. How did that happen?

During my interviews, I spent an hour with our CEO, Jerome Peribere. Our conversation was less about IT and more about how the company operates, develops new solutions, prices products and services and how it goes to market. At the time, Jerome was not certain whether the CIO role would report to him or somewhere else, but he made the decision to hire me, expand the scope of the role, and have me report to him. 

Being a respected report of the CEO and working at the top level of the company allows me to maximize the value of what IT and digital can bring to the company. If my job were to run traditional IT where we are only cutting costs and consolidating systems, I would not have been interested as I believe that's only part of my job. 

 

Why is the CIO reporting structure so important?

Does the CEO want to save costs or maximize value? Does the CEO view IT as the driver behind technology or back office systems? In my opinion, there is no other organization in the company that can alter the way the company operates than IT. It is as critical for IT and digital to be involved in the company's most strategic conversations as it is finance, sales or operations. If the CIO and CDO do not report to the CEO, IT could be pushed to be purely operational and do very little to capitalize on new digital capabilities.

The reporting structure is also important for talent acquisition. Top technology professionals want to work at Sealed Air because they see we are driving innovative solutions not only for our employees but also for our customer base. We do much more than support an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

 

What is your approach to developing digital capabilities?

We have a three-pronged approach: Internally, we are using agile approaches to developing digital capabilities. We are also establishing strategic partnerships. When it comes to delivering digital technologies, our goal is to be an industry leader. We are always evaluating potential key partnerships when it comes to delivering these technologies and our digital ecosystem.

Included under that partnership umbrella are universities. We are talking to several leading universities about programs to allow their engineering students to work with us on new solutions.

And finally, we are always looking at opportunities to acquire technology companies that can provide us with capabilities we do not already have in house. To facilitate all of these levers, we have dedicated legal assistance for technology. When we need technology licenses, run into governance issues, or want to connect data assets from multiple companies, we can move very quickly because we are removing the legal roadblocks from the beginning.

 

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