Throughout her more than 30-year career in the tech industry, Jacqueline Guichelaar has been a staunch advocate for leaning in and genuinely listening to customers in order to provide them with better experiences.

It’s one of the many attributes that led her to eventually becoming global CIO with Cisco, where she charted a path that combined leading the company’s strategy for digital transformation – including migrating 140,000 staff to remote working during COVID – focussed on ‘simplification’, while consulting on actual product design and development.

Yet after four “amazing” years in the role, Guichelaar has taken up the position of SVP and general manager, customer experience overseeing APAC, Japan and Greater China.

The Australian bred – albeit Uruguayan-born – executive has also moved slightly closer to home, relocating from California to Singapore.

Speaking exclusively to CIO Australia, she recalls how her earliest roles working in technology, be it for IBM Global Services Australia or one of several systems integrators, saw her assume a central role in liaising with and managing customers, including some of Australia’s biggest companies.

“I’ve always been about putting myself in customer’s shoes, so now it feels right to be moving from CIO to a CX role.”

CIOs can’t build everything

While she may well be best remembered for leading Cisco’s response to COVID – including leading a WFH exodus that would crush many a CIO – Guichelaar hopes that her legacy as the company’s CIO will be seen more in terms of her work in massively simplifying technology, and of course helping to lift user and customer experiences.

During her four-year tenure, Guichelaar and her team managed to slash IT spend by a whopping $US200 million. This was achieved largely by shifting the tech department’s mindset to one of ‘buy before you build’.

“We didn’t need all these homegrown applications, so we rationalised them,” she explains. “In some business units, we had 11 legacy apps. We replaced them with one out-of-the-box SAS application”. Finance. Legal and HR were three departments that were slimmed down the most in terms of applications.

This also meant dealing with less vendors, which helped to further reduce costs, with Cisco now limited to dealing with a handful of ‘strategic partners’.

Data centres, networks and other tech infrastructure were all rationalised on Guichelaar’s watch. “We were very clear and intentional about what workloads would sit where”.

She stresses that all companies have things that they excel at, and that during her time as Cisco CIO she argued that if the company was to build anything, it should be where its strengths are.

“Focus on the areas that matter the most, the areas where you have competitive advantage and / or the areas where maybe there is no solution in the market where you believe that if you build something you will help your company move forward”.

She’s seen many inhouse built applications that have delivered enormous value to the company. “But companies move and industries change”.

“In this new world, it is not possible for a CIO to build everything,” she says.

“There’s just not enough money. There’s just not enough time. It’s just not possible”. Systems engineers can also become heavily invested in applications they’ve developed, meaning that scuttling them often presents certain “cultural challenges”.

Guichelaar stresses that being able to “pull back” from such a place requires “experience, foresight and governance”.

“You have to put some frameworks in place, otherwise you just end up with a flavour of everything and high complexity and no one wants that.”

She says it’s something many CIOs still get wrong, investing large amounts of time, energy and money building things they could easily buy for vastly cheaper and greater overall value.

“I’ve seen it time and time again in my career, in financial services, in telecommunications, even in banking”.

Yet getting it right is key to delivering better experiences, whether for customers or staff, Guichelaar notes, as it all comes down to “simplicity”.

It’s one of the many lessons she’s bringing from Cisco’s top tech job to charting her new course in CX in Singapore.

One of her customers there is a large American bank struggling with sprawling legacy systems across its entire international operations.

“It might sound basic but it’s difficult, and something many companies around the world are grappling with.”

“I feel for the team, because it’s really hard when you’ve got to figure out how to refresh. How do you get the investment? How do you support, how do you get the change window time? How do you get enough engineers?”

Technology needs to deliver value in the form of outcomes

When Guichelaar and her team went in and met with executives in the network space they soon discovered – much to the bank’s surprise – that it wasn’t utilising much of the value it had actually bought from Cisco. This prompted her to send in a “bunch” of CX engineers to help get everything back on track.

Another major bank Guichelaar is working with is transitioning to a hybrid cloud environment.

“They’re wanting to move out of their own data centres because it’s too costly and to figure out what workloads do [they want to] put on public cloud versus their own private data centre versus SaaS,” she says, adding that challenges like these are where great CX teams can really shine.

Ultimately, today perhaps more so than any time before, the raison d’etre of all technology projects – be they customer or staff facing – has to be delivering value in the form of ‘outcomes’.

“I was a customer of Cisco for decades so I know also what it feels to be on the other side,” Guichelaar says.

“And one of the things our [Cisco] customers are saying to us is ‘we want to see value from the hardware we buy, we want to know that the software is making an impact’.

“We want to be happy and we want to have a long term relationship with you”.

With decades of senior technology leadership under her belt, Guichelaar understands as well as any CIO that this is often simply a pipe dream, though, especially once the realities of deploying large-scale solutions set in.

Yet with competition in the tech sector as fierce as ever, and with the cloud driving prices and margins down to new lows, Guichelaar understands that her new CX role may end up being as challenging– if not more – than her four years as Cisco’s top tech executive.

“Time will tell the impact I will have with customers, but does it feel right?”

“It definitely feels like the right move for me and I’m glad I’ve taken all my tech background and experience and am doing something for our customers. And I do like to be with customers.”

Careers, IT Leadership

When he’s not immersed in cybersecurity, hybrid cloud strategy, or app modernization, David Reis, CIO at the University of Miami Health System and the Miller School of Medicine, spends his time working with the board of directors and top leadership to reimagine healthcare and take the lead driving digital transformation.

A business objective to “arrive” more patients per hour or the CEO’s desire to leverage historical data to predict future patient volume and revenue doesn’t start with a technology discussion or spoon-feed IT a particular business strategy to execute. Today, Reis and his team are early-stage partners with the business to ideate new digital strategies aimed at keeping the healthcare provider at the forefront of patient experience and care, safety, and innovation.

“In these discussions, we didn’t talk about phones, infrastructure, servers, computers, or storage — all the things people expect with IT,” Reis says. “IT is now thought of as a partner and brought in much sooner in the overall rethinking of business processes rather than coming in at the end to digitize workflows.”

David Reis, CIO, University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine

University of Miami Health System and Miller School of Medicine

Despite another year dominated by a transformation agenda and getting digital operations in order, CIOs like Reis are finding their footing as an invaluable strategic partner and resource for the business. According to the 2023 State of the CIO research, which surveyed 837 IT leaders and 201 line of business (LOB) participants, functional and transformational work consumed the bulk of IT leaders’ time this year, much the same as 2022.

Eighty-four percent of respondents were immersed in basic functional tasks such as security management (47%), improving IT operations and systems performance (40%), and cost control and expense management (28%). IT leaders were equally committed to transformation work (83%), including modernizing infrastructure and applications (35%), aligning IT initiatives with business goals (38%), cultivating the IT/business partnership (31%), and directing change efforts (28%).

Foundry /

While far fewer (61%) cited business strategist responsibilities as the year’s primary charter, many, like Reis, are already well-established and sought-after strategy leaders, continuing to mature their influence going forward. At the same time, the majority of 2023 State of the CIO respondents (71%) also anticipate greater immersion in business strategy over the next three years. With technology at the epicenter of all aspects of modern business, IT leaders fully expect their remit to include actively driving business innovation, developing and refining business strategy, and identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation.

Kevin Gray, CIO, City of Burbank, Calif.

City of Burbank, Calif.

“The CIO role today is really a business leadership role that is not necessarily focused on technology — technology is just part and parcel of what we do every day,” says Kevin Gray, CIO for the City of Burbank, Calif. “We are helping form strategy for our organizations, laying out roadmaps, and developing policy in ways we didn’t in the past. A CIO or CTO who wakes up thinking about technology is thinking about the wrong things.”

Foundry /

CIOs’ leadership stature matures

This year’s focus on IT transformation and modernization hasn’t diluted demand for CIO leadership. More than half of respondents to the 2023 State of the CIO survey (55%) said they proactively identify business opportunities and make recommendations regarding technology and provider selections while 23% said they advise on business need, technology choices, and providers.

As in prior years, the CIO role continues to be more digital- and innovation-focused — a trend cited by 85% of IT leaders participating in this year’s survey. Not only are CIOs involved in digital transformation — the majority of 2023 survey respondents maintain CIOs are more likely to lead digital transformation efforts compared to their business leader counterparts — a scenario cited by 84% of IT leaders along with nearly three quarters (72%) of LOB participants.

Foundry /

CIOs’ mounting credibility as a lever for business transformation is also being recognized on a broader scale, even as IT leaders are wrapped up with modernization efforts and operationalizing the technology investments that were accelerated these past few years. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they view the CIO role as a changemaker, slightly higher than last year.


of CIOs agree that the CIO is becoming a changemaker, increasingly leading business and technology initiatives

At the same time, CIOs continue to forge strong relationships with other influencers in the executive ranks: Seventy-seven percent of 2023 State of the CIO respondents have cultivated a strong educational partnership with the CEO and board of directors. Nearly half (49%) of IT leaders participating in this year’s research report directly to the CEO, and CIOs themselves have retained oversight of some of the newer C-level positions. For example, among the 2023 State of the CIO survey base, many chief data officers (53%) and chief digital officers (42%) now come under the CIO management umbrella. Chief security officers and chief analytics officers are also more likely to report into IT leadership.

Foundry /

In a similar vein, IT retains direct control over a good portion of the IT budget at most companies — on average, around 43.5% — with respondents expecting that ratio to tick up to about 50% over the next three years. In keeping with the reporting structures, CIOs are commanding oversight of budgets allocated to some of the newer executive titles: Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said the CTO budget was factored into overall technology expenditures under CIO management while half said the same of the chief digital officer budget. A much higher number, 63%, confirmed chief data officer expenses came under the CIO and IT department’s remit.

While CIO’s leadership stature and immersion in the business has been steadily growing for some time, ongoing economic uncertainty, the vast potential of emerging technologies to transform business, and the lingering halo effects from CIOs’ widely heralded pandemic performance have underscored the significance of the role when it comes to business strategy. Specifically, the level of transformation during the pandemic was unrivaled compared to prior periods, and the business strategies and foundational platforms put in place call for IT leadership to promote broad adoption and oversee continuous care and feeding, says JP Saini, chief digital & technology officer at Sunbelt Rentals, a global player in the equipment rental market.

JP Saini, chief digital and technology officer, Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt Rentals

“It’s about how to maintain the edge we created with the business strategies we implemented,” Saini says. “Unlike prior years, where you launch something big and the next refresh cycle is three to four years out, there’s now a continued value creation formula for digital transformation that happens year over year.”

What’s on the 2023 docket

Sunbelt Rentals’ 2023 roadmap calls for evolving its digital platforms in areas such as omnichannel ecommerce, dynamic pricing, service, supply chain, and warehouse management. The company is also investing in new collaboration technologies and Zero Trust initiatives to fully empower its employees for hybrid work, no matter where they are and on whatever device they are working from, Saini says.

The digital transformation and technology organizations used to operate on two parallel tracks. Today, they’ve been consolidated into a single group reporting to Saini to accelerate delivery of systems that drive business strategy forward. “We’re now one group that handles initiatives from start to finish because time was of the essence,” he explains. “Whatever launches in terms of ecommerce, if you don’t have a good roadmap to keep ahead of competitors, the value is eroded.”

At insurance company The Hartford, the technology initiatives and business strategies that are on tap for 2023 are one and the same, according to Deepa Soni, the company’s CIO. Cloud deployment, AI, analytics, a modern data ecosystem, and digitization of more business processes are at the top of the agenda to simplify interactions for customers, brokers, and agents and to bring the power of digital tools to employees. For example, underwriters used to toggle between nearly a dozen tools to get their job done — today they use one streamlined tool with all relevant information at their fingertips to make better decisions while understanding risks, Soni says.

Deepa Soni, CIO, The Hartford

The Hartford

With new technologies poised to reinvent business processes and disrupt entire markets, Soni says she and her CIO counterparts must play a pivotal role guiding the business to think about things differently while recognizing opportunities to harness technology to create solutions for business partners, customers, and employees. One of the more significant changes at The Hartford has been to embrace agile practices, not just in the IT domain, but as a companywide business practice. “We’re now organized around customer-centric value streams that start with the product owners in the business and extend into technology,” she explains. “The opportunity to leverage data and technology is increasing so we have to deliver capabilities faster to be able to better capitalize on future opportunities.”

Leveraging data, advanced analytics, and AI is top priority across the board. Thirty-four percent of IT leaders responding to the 2023 State of the CIO survey called out data/business analytics as a major tech initiative driving IT investments, second only to security and risk management (38%). Machine learning and AI were also high on the list, cited by 26%.

Foundry /

With data and analytics a critical engine for driving business strategy, Dow Inc. combined its data and analytics teams into one group last year, elevating a new dedicated leadership role. Chris Bruman, Dow’s first chief data and analytics officer, reports directly into Melanie Kalmar, a corporate vice president and Dow’s CIO and chief digital officer.

Chris Bruman, chief data and analytics officer, Dow


In his dual role, Bruman leads a centralized data and analytics team, but also has accountability for building a data and analytics strategy for the entire enterprise, to both enable growth and empower productivity. On his watch, Dow has updated its data operating model to a hub and spoke approach, is setting up a data platform and data catalog that can support the entire enterprise, and expanded the data initiative to harness both structured and unstructured data. Bruman’s group has also invested time and resources in data literacy, launching a companywide program to upskill the enterprise in the language of data and how to take advantage of data and analytics.

“Because analytics are so much more important in how we do work every day, we don’t believe a fully centralized team can keep up with the demand,” he explains. With the federated or hub and spoke approach, the power of leveraging analytics rests in the business functions. “It’s about data democratization and empowering the spokes to do more on their own,” he says.

The CIO-plus role takes shape

In addition to the focus on data, Dow has also invested considerably over the past few years to put digital platforms in place, including those aimed at improving and speeding up the pace of innovation and delivering a better digital buying experience on while expanding direct connections with customers. Dow is also working to digitize its manufacturing sites, channeling data to the field where it’s needed to drive decisions and improve operational efficiency, operating discipline, safety, and reliability, according to CIO and CDO Kalmar. “Digital at Dow represents a company strategy, not just an IT strategy,” she says.

Melanie Kalmar, CVP, CIO, and chief digital officer, Dow


Other CIOs, like Kalmar, are expanding their roles and oversight responsibilities beyond IT as digital strategies move front and center in the business. Many are taking on new revenue responsibilities — a move cited by 68% of IT leaders this year, up from 65% in the 2022 State of the CIO survey. As part of the move, 44% of IT leaders are managing a team tasked with new revenue-generating capabilities, while a quarter are members of such a team, the research found. As part of this expanded revenue charter, IT leaders are automating business and IT processes (47%), creating new products and services (40%), and making data more available (34%).

Foundry /

Andrew Ho of Global Strategy Group (GSG) now has ownership of both the IT and offices services organizations — a move precipitated by the synergies between the two areas. With hybrid work now a mainstay, Ho’s dual role ensures he has accountability for evolving employee experience and engagement from working both remotely and in-office. For example, when reconfiguring office space to accommodate hybrid work, it’s impossible to separate technology requirements from construction given the need for immersive audio-visual tools, Zoom rooms, and hoteling capabilities, says Ho, senior vice president and head of technology and office services for GSG, a research, communications, and public affairs agency.

Andrew Ho, SVP and head of technology and office services, Global Strategy Group

Global Strategy Group

In addition, Ho says the office services staff is also best positioned to handle the front-end technical support for the firm given they are always in office and maintain a certain relationship with employees. “The lines have blurred with what is facilities versus what is technology, and all of that falls under IT,” he says.

Foundry /

Sastry Durvasula, who holds both the CIO and client service officer titles, came into TIAA a year ago in part for the CIO-plus opportunity. From a technology perspective, Durvasula’s 2023 roadmap balances transformation through a digital-first agenda built around data and AI for hyper-personalized experiences while at the same time, modernizing the core platforms and processes by harnessing automation and orchestrating hybrid, multicloud migration.

On the Client Services front, Durvasula’s focus is also on AI and automation to transform the way TIAA does everything from front-office client engagement to fraud management and client support services. “Our fundamental belief is that Client Services would have a significant benefit to have proximity to technology as they would be the biggest beneficiary when it comes to AI, automation, and the digital services we are investing in,” Durvasula explains. “It makes a lot of sense to bring them together.”

Sastry Durvasula, CIO and client service officer, TIAA


Durvasula, who’s held CIO-plus roles with oversight of IT and digital products at other companies, firmly believes technology’s front-and-center role in business strategy has changed the game and set IT leaders on a new course. It’s not a matter of switching focus between technology initiatives and business strategy, he says, it’s a balancing act that requires an equal focus on both.

“Now that technology is front and center in business strategy and not a back-end enabler, that changes the CIO role quite a bit,” he says. “Technology is disrupting business in a lot of ways and this is the best time to be on the CIO career path. The branches are wide open.”

Business IT Alignment, CIO, Digital Transformation, IT Leadership

At UL Solutions, CIO Karriem Shakoor has identified clear cultural and architectural requirements for achieving data democratization so that IT can get out of the reports business and into driving revenue.

Recently, I had the chance to speak at length with Shakoor about data strategy at the global safety science company, which has over 15,000 employees in 40 countries. What follows is an edited version of our interview.

Martha Heller: How is software changing UL Solutions as a business?

Karriem Shakoor: UL Solutions’ ambition is to be our customers’ most trusted, scienced-based safety, security, and sustainability partner, which means that we need best-in-class technology infrastructure. For example, investing in industry-leading customer relationship management software lets us leverage the collective innovation of that software company’s entire customer base toward meeting our own transformation goals, rather than starting from scratch. That allows our sales teams to run and track their activities with feature-rich and fully integrated processes.

But the software tools are only as powerful as our ability to create a consistent view of our customer base. We can digitize our services and enable their appropriate pricing and configuration for a customer, but to fully leverage the software investment, we also need reliable, accurate customer and account data to support direct marketing, lead generation, and personalization.

What are the steps toward having a data strategy that fully leverages the software?

Good governance is a must if you want to harness the full power of data for new products and services and achieve data democratization.

Every company must be intentional about governing and proactively managing the quantities of data it creates each year, using effective standards and quality rules. If not, they risk diluting the value they can derive, and slowing decision-making.

Email offers a simple example. In order to use email marketing to engage customers, it’s critical to build an accurate and trusted repository of email addresses. Without enforcing a convention for how those addresses are formatted and ensuring that the systems that record those addresses — whether manually or using automation — conform to that convention, you jeopardize the usability of key data.

What is data democratization and why is it important?

Democratizing data empowers stakeholders to access and use that data to answer questions on their own without working through an IT broker. For example, a stakeholder should be able to run a report without having to request that IT pull the information. After IT certifies datasets that meet validated stakeholder needs and makes them available internally, end users can draw from those datasets on demand, speeding stakeholder decision-making and getting IT out of the business of running reports.

In addition to standards and governance, what else does an organization need for data democratization?

Effective data democratization requires a data management culture that empowers business stakeholders to define how certain information will be used. This also means holding people accountable for using that information appropriately and subject to good governance.

Data democratization also requires subject matter experts inside business units and functions who understand data analytics and reporting. IT alone simply cannot drive successful data democratization.

What is your architectural strategy for enabling the democratization of data?

There really is no single best architectural design. You need adherence to strong data governance and consistent practices for defining your data and mastering it with the right tools to achieve a standard, concise view of key data types across your business.

What is the CIO’s role in leading data strategy?

An effective data strategy must connect to a business imperative. Every CIO needs to understand the company’s multi-year strategy and desired outcomes, and the data-related capabilities necessary to drive those outcomes.

At UL Solutions, tapping into our data to build a deeper understanding of customer needs and buying behaviors can help expand our relationships with existing customers.

What advice do you have for CIOs on developing a culture of data democratization?

Start with a clear strategic intention. Connecting our data democratization proposals to the company’s business strategy went a long way toward helping our executive team appreciate why we prioritized building a single, consistent view of our customers. This approach really helped generate enthusiasm and build the commitment we needed.

I also recommend that CIOs resist trying to execute a data strategy with their IT teams alone. In any company, there are at least three different groups outside of IT that think about your key data every day. For example, pricing managers, product managers, and inside sales teams need to buy into the data strategy, and so do your executive peers. You need your chief revenue or chief commercial officers sitting right next to you, championing the importance of data governance and quality.

Finally, understand that your most important work as CIO is to bring the right data leadership into the IT organization. You cannot wait to be asked to build out a data team; as CIO, you have to be one step ahead.

Data Management, IT Leadership

The US Military is undergoing major changes in its CIO ranks as it finalizes its joint warfighting cloud platform.

On Feb. 10, US Army CIO Dr. Raj Iyer concluded his two-year contract and was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, the highest honor that can be granted to a civilian employee, for his efforts to build a data-driven army via digital transformation and the cloud

David Markowitz is currently serving as acting US Army CIO while the Army recruits for a new CIO to fill the role for a longer term, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The CIOs of two other major military branches who served longer terms are also stepping down.

US Department of Air Force CIO Lauren Knausenberger announced she will leave that post in June after a six-year tenure. The process to select the next US Air Force CIO is expected to begin this month with the goal to identify the new CIO before Knausenberger’s departure, a US Air Force spokesman says. 

Meanwhile, Navy CIO Aaron Weis, who led the U.S. Navy’s IT and security services for five years, submitted his resignation, effective March 17. Weis’ successor for the Navy CIO post has not yet been named.

In the interim, Principal Deputy Department of Navy CIO Jane Rathbun will serve as acting US Navy CIO until a permanent successor is named, a Navy spokesman says.

Iyer told that such changes are typical for the military, if not always coordinated at once.

“No conspiracy here,” says Dr. Iyer, who was this week announced as ServiceNow’s first global head of public sector. “We have all done our time at the Pentagon. We all came from the private industry on term assignments and are leaving the DoD in a much better shape than we found it.”

Lt General Matthew Glavy, CIO for the US Marine Corps, has no plans to leave at this time, according to a Marine spokesman. Glavy is also Head of the Intelligence Community Element (HICE) for the Marine Corps and Deputy Commandant of Information (DCI) at Headquarters Marine Corps.

The CIO leadership changes follow the completion of a 17-month Defense Department project to develop a Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC).

In December, the Department of Defense awarded contracts to four technology companies — Amazon Web Services, Google Support Services, Microsoft, and Oracle — to provide an integrated cloud platform for the DoD.

Tom Temin, host of the podcast “The Federal Drive with Tom Temin,” agreed that it is typical for the military to award short-term contracts to civilians for such posts — and they are often extended.

Temin says these CIOs in particular helped modernize much of the DoD’s entire technology infrastructure in just the past few years.

“It’s very fast. These [CIOs] did a lot,” Temin said, alluding to the new cloud platform, a DevOps platform, and delivery of Office 365. “You’re talking about organizations with a million people and a lot of competing interests for money and attention.”

The top priorities for federal and national CIO investments in 2023 are digital transformation (19%), technical modernization (15%), and leveraging data more effectively (19%), according to a Gartner survey of roughly 2,200 officials published last October.

More specifically, 76% of responds reported they intended to invest more in cybersecurity technologies, 56% indicated they will spend more on cloud platforms, and 51% expressed an intent to invest more in application modernization, the Gartner report noted.

John Sherman, who was appointed to the post of CIO of the Department of Defense by President Biden in 2021, also has no plans to depart, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

In an e-mail to, Sherman applauded the efforts of the three outgoing CIOs for their progress on top digital transformation goals.

“They have been exceptional leaders with the foresight needed to take on hard challenges such as the implementation of Zero Trust, cloud migration, agile software development, the Department’s rapid transition to remote work during COVID, and cyber talent management,” DoD CIO Sherman wrote.

“They have built lasting organizations that I’m confident will continue the momentum they began. I look forward to working with the acting leaders in each of the military departments on these and other challenges as we work to improve cybersecurity, transform the Department’s IT and cloud capabilities, and enhance user experience,” Sherman wrote.

CIO, Government IT

Movers & Shakers is where you can keep up with new CIO appointments and gain valuable insight into the job market and CIO hiring trends. As every company becomes a technology company, CEOs and corporate boards are seeking multi-dimensional CIOs with superior skills in technology, communications, business strategy and digital innovation. The role is more challenging than ever before but even more exciting and rewarding! If you have CIO job news to share, please email me!

Tyson Foods promotes two to CTO and CIO positions

Danyel Bischof-Forsyth, CTO, Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods

Doug Kulka, CIO, Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food companies, announced the appointments of CTO Danyel Bischof-Forsyth and CIO Doug Kulka. Founded in 1935, Tyson has a broad portfolio of products and brands, including Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Sara Lee, Barber, and more. Kulka most recently served as VP of Delivery-as-a-Service IT. He first came to Tyson in 2017 from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and holds a BS degree in Finance from University of Connecticut. Bischof-Forsyth first joined Tyson in 2018 and most recently served as VP IT – Poultry, Prepared Foods, and Customer Enablement. Earlier, she had a lengthy career with Hallmark Cards. Bischof-Forsyth earned a BS degree in Computer Science and an MBA from The University of Kansas.

Southwest Airlines names Lauren Woods as CIO

Lauren Woods, CIO, Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Southwest operates in 121 airports across 11 countries. Woods first joined Southwest in 2010 and most recently held the position of Vice President. Prior to Southwest, she worked in the management consulting firm Diamond Management & Technology (now PWC). She holds a BS degree from Cornell University.

Greg Fancher joins PetSmart as CITO

Greg Fancher, CITO, PetSmart


Founded in 1987, PetSmart is a specialty pet retailer with more than 1,660 locations in North America. Fancher joins PetSmart from EXPRESS, where he served as CTO. Previously, he served as CIO at Taco Bell and held other roles at lululemon and Gap. Fancher earned a Bachelor of Arts focusing on economics from Colgate University and a Master of Science in Information Systems from San Francisco State University.

Mark Mazurkiewicz is CIO of Protective Industrial Products

Mark Mazurkiewicz, CIO, Protective Industrial Products

Protective Industrial Products

Founded in 1984 and based outside Albany, NY, PIP is a leading manufacturer and distributor of personal protective equipment. Most recently, Mazurkiewicz was CIO of Alkegen. He earned a BA in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University at Buffalo.

Keith Aulson named CIO at Malibu Boats

Keith Aulson, CIO, Malibu Boats

Malibu Boats

Malibu Boats is a designer, manufacturer, and marketer of a diverse range of recreational powerboats under a range of brands including Malibu, Axis, Cobalt, Pursuit, and more. Aulson joins Malibu Boats from Ingram Barge Co. Prior to that, he held roles at Brandt Engineering, SourceHOV, and The Turner Corporation. Aulson earned his MBA from Southern Methodist University and his BS from Texas A&M University.

Sean Moore rejoins CJ Logistics America as CIO

Sean Moore, CIO, CJ Logistics America

CJ Logistics America

CJ Logistics America provides integrated supply chain services in North America, including 80+ warehousing, transportation, and freight forwarding operations across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Moore was Senior Director of IT, Business Applications at CJ Logistics America from 2014-2017. Prior to rejoining the company as CIO, he was Digital Integration Director at RSM US in Raleigh, NC, and CIO at IMPLUS in Durham, NC. Moore has a BS in Civil Engineering and an MBA from Bradley University.

GA Telesis appoints Darryl Maraj as its first global CIO

Darryl Maraj, CIO, GA Telesis

GA Telesis

GA Telesis is a provider of integrated services in the commercial aviation industry. Maraj has been with GA Telesis for 10 years, most recently serving as CTO, Digital Innovation Group. He holds a BS in Marketing and an MBA in Finance from Florida Atlantic University.

Seneca Gaming names Les Leonard CIO

Les Leonard, CIO, Seneca Gaming

Seneca Gaming

Seneca Gaming Corporation (SGC) is a wholly owned, tribally chartered corporation of the Seneca Nation of Indians (Nation) which operates all of the Nation’s Class III gaming operations in Western New York. Leonard most recently served as Seneca Gaming Corporation’s Vice President of IT Business Solutions since 2019. He held previous roles at Resorts World Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming Corporation, and Genesis Health Ventures. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and was a Communications Officer in the White House Communications Agency. Leonard earned a Bachelor in Technology degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Peter Weis appointed CIO of ITS Logistics

Peter Weis, CIO, ITS Logistics

ITS Logistics

ITS Logistics offers a suite of network transportation solutions across North America as well as omnichannel distribution and fulfillment services. Before joining ITS, Weis served as Global CIO for Matson Navigation and taught an IT leadership course at the University of California, Berkeley for five years. Weis earned a Bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business.

Sumaria Systems Names Alex Wong as CIO

Alex Wong, CIO, Sumaria Systems

Sumaria Systems

Sumaria Systems, headquartered in Peabody, MA, provides professional, technology, engineering, and management services to the US Government. Before joining Sumaria, Alex held IT leadership positions at several fortune 500 firms. Wong has a Master of Science degree in computer engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jay Brodsky joins American Association for the Advancement of Science as CIO

Jay Brodsky, CIO, AAAS


AAAS has individual members in more than 91 countries around the globe and is a multidisciplinary scientific society and a leading publisher of cutting-edge research. Prior to AAAS, Brodsky held roles at American Geophysical Union, Thompson Media Group, and Atlantic Media Company. He holds a degree in computer science engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and a masters in cybersecurity strategy from The George Washington University.

R&R Express selects Mark Ohlund as CIO

Mark Ohlund, CIO, R&R Express

R&R Express

R&R Express is a provider of logistics multi-mode transportation solutions. Ohlund was formerly the CIO of American Expediting and Armada. He earned a BS in Applied Mathematics andComputer Science and an MS in Industrial Administration, both from Carnegie Mellon University.

Sage Dental Group promotes Daniel Mirsky to CIO

Sage Dental Group provides dental care to over one million patients through its practice network, which offers general, specialty, and cosmetic dental care. Mirsky first joined Sage in 2018 and most recently served as VP of IT. Prior to that, he was VP of IT at Vision Group Holdings. Mirksy earned a degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement from Palm Beach State College.

New CIO appointments, February 2023

Brown-Forman promotes Larry Combs to newly created role of CIO

Jared Price promoted to CIO at AMP

Rick Johnson named CDO at Marvin

Pritchard Industries appoints Chris Conway to CIO post

TYLin welcomes Stephen Cayea as CIO

Tarleton State University names Zach Gorman CIO

Joe Vande Kieft Named Central College’s CIO

Leaf Home hires Klarissa Marenitch as CIO

Matt Deres appointed CIO at Quest Software

Fleming Meng appointed CIO at Veritone

Michele Stanton joins HGA as CIO

Vijay Menta named CIO at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Quorum Software appoints Jan Manning as CIO

Steve Sharkey is the new CIO at Sunland Asphalt & Construction

Lubrizol appoints Shuja Ishrat as CIO

NCB Management Services hires Leonard Yampolsky as CIO

Zoom Appoints Cindy Hoots to Board of Directors

New CIO appointments, January 2023

Centene announces Brian LeClaire as CIO

Brad Miller joins Moderna as CIO

Colgate-Palmolive promotes David Foster to CIO

Annlea Rumfola named CIO of Yellow

Chicago Public Schools appoints Norman Fleming as CIO

Sampath Narayanan announced as CIO for Panoramic Health

Schneider Electric appoints Robert Cain as CIO for North America

Vantage Data Centers names Purnima Wagle as CIO 

Eliassen Group Appoints Rob Waddell as First CIO

Quickbase Names Dalan Winbush as New CIO

Nathan Thompson assumes the role of CIO of UBC

Keith Golden joins RGP as CIO

Thanigs Muthu announced as new CIO of LBMC

Associated Banc-Corp announces Terry L. Williams as CIO

Omer Grossman named Global CIO of CyberArk

Baiju Thakkar named CIO of Supreme Lending

New CIO appointments, December 2022

Apple names Timothy Campos as new CIO

Planet Fitness announces Paul Barber as CIO

Daniel J. Barchi named as CommonSpirit Health CIO

NCR has named Patricia Watson as CIO

David Yurman announces Christian Fortucci as CIO

Open Lending appoints Thinh Nguyen as CIO

Zoetis’ CIDO, Wafaa Mamilli, expands role to lead two major markets and customer experience

Extended Stay America announces John LaPlante as CIO

Mary Beth Eckert hired as CIDO of Pacific Life

Sumit Nair joins Essential Utilities as CIO

Hussmann announces Erin Williams as CIO

Douglas Torre joins White Plains Hospital as CIO

Smoothie King announces Juan Salas as CIO

Jess Evans named CIO for Vanderbilt University

New CIO appointments, November 2022

Karen Higgins-Carter joins Gilbane Building Co. as CIDO

Atefeh (“Atti”) Riazi Named CIO of Hearst

Jim Palermo moves into CIO role at Red Hat

Etsy names Rachana Kumar Chief Technology Officer

Crowley names Erika Graziuso as CIO

Thorlabs announces Michael Cheng as new head of IT

BakerHostetler names Katherine Lowry as CIO

Sheila Carpenter appointed CIO at Everbridge

Southwell welcomes James ‘Jamey’ Pennington as new CIO

Krishna Seetharam announced as new CIO of CyrusOne

Joyce Oh joins Moffitt Cancer Center as CIO

Columbia Bank appoints Manesh Prabhu as CIO

Scott Frost named CIO at 3Pillar Global

Pam Presswood is named CIO of Valor

Brian Wesselhoff promoted to CIO at Waterstone Mortgage

Alice Fournier joins ISS as CIO for Americas Region

New CIO appointments, October 2022

Allstate names Zulfi Jeevanjee to newly created CIO position

The NFL hires Gary Brantley as new CIO

Grady Ligon joins RE/MAX as CIO

XPO promotes Jay Silberkleit to CIO

Chevron Phillips Chemical expands remit of CIO Allison Martinez 

Delta Dental of California promotes two executives into CIO and CTO roles

Ryan Olivier is named CIO of AAM (American Axle & Manufacturing)

Excela Health welcomes Vasanth Balu as CIO

Velcro Companies selects Rob Trotter as CIO

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino welcomes Garret Finocchiaro as its first CIO

Slalom hires Michelle Grover as first CTO

Sharon Pitt is named CIO at Brown University

University of Cincinnati hires Bharath Prabhakaran as CDO

Vuori Clothing names Bryan Muehlberger to be its CIO

Eduard de Vries is named CIO for Axia Women’s Health

Matt Postulka returns to Arbella Insurance as CIO

Biju Samuel joins Frazier & Deeter as CIO

Creative Testing Solutions welcomes new CIO Jeff Modell

TGen names Kevin Campbell CIO

New CIO appointments, September 2022

Walgreens Boots Alliance appoints Hsiao Wang as CIO

American Airlines Names Ganesh Jayaram CDIO

Fletcher Previn is named CIO of Cisco Systems

Mike Sullivan promoted to CIO of Post Holdings

Omni Hotels & Resorts hires Lance Kobza as CIO

Water Street Healthcare Partners appoints Deepak Batheja as CIO

Aon appoints James Platt as Chief Digital Officer and Mindy Simon as Chief Operating Officer

Conagra promotes Tracy Schaefer to CIO

Robert Curtis is named IT leader at Danbury Mission Technologies

RealTruck hires Tom Luttrell as its first CIO

Wesley Eugene has been named CIO at IDEO

Andy Rhodes named CIO at Ultimate Medical Academy

Amit Gaur joins HALO Branded Solutions as CIO

Archkey Solutions names Scott Welch to lead IT

REV Group hires Sagar Murty as CIO

Marcus Manning is named CIO of Smart Financial Credit Union

Mark Sander is the new CDIO at Azurity Pharmaceuticals

Allied Electronics & Automation Appoints Jason Taylor as CIO

Michael Early is named CTO of Francesca’s

New CIO appointments, August 2022

Michelle Greene is the new CIO at Cardinal Health

United Airlines announces technology leadership promotions

McDonald’s appoints Brian Rice as CIO

Kimberly-Clark names Zack Hicks as chief digital and technology officer

Hyatt Hotels appoints Eben Hewitt as CIO

Kohl’s promotes Siobhan McFeeney to CTO

Denise Fleming is named CIO of Becton Dickinson

Bobby Aflatooni joins Dollar Tree as CIO

Patty Patria is named CIO of Babson College

Sevita hires Patrick Piccininno to be its CIO

Sharay Erkine is named CIO of Atlanta Community Food Bank

Cranial Technologies names Pete Foster CIO

Ryan Specialty hires Bradley Bodell as CIO

Dwain Wilcox joins J.M. Huber as CIO

Amalgamated Family of Companies announces Sanjay Chojar as CIO

Xerxes Gazder appointed as CIO of AAON

Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena announce Chief Innovation and Technology Officer Kimberly Rometo

Steve Klohn is named CIO of Dave & Buster’s

Julie Nash promoted to CIO at Arlo Technologies

Tom Sweet is named CIO of Industrial Refrigeration Pros

Christian Eidt joins Davis-Standard as CIO

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America selects Travis Gibson to be CTO

The Federal Communications Commission names Allen Hill as CIO

Owens & Minor elects Carissa Rollins to its board of directors

New CIO appointments, July 2022

Neeru Arora named CIO and CDO for Volkswagen Group of America

Monica Caldas will become CIO of Liberty Mutual

Deere promotes CIO Raj Kalathur to CFO, appoints Ganesh Jayaram as new CIO

Ingersoll Rand Names Kathryn Freytag Chief Information Officer

eXp World Holdings names Shoeb Ansari as CIO

FM Global promotes Todd Mazza to CTO

Enovis names Ariane Schiereck Chief Digital and Information Officer

Colonial Pipeline names Darrell Riekena CIO

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield announces Dorothea (“Dori”) Henderson as CDIO

Carol Lee Joins La-Z-Boy as CIO

Webster Bank appoints Vikram Nafde as CIO

Skillsoft has named Orla Daly as CIO

Brad Warezak Joins Rocket Lab as CIO

Milton’s Distributing and Gordon Logistics hires Scott Gardner as CIO

Baystate Health names Kevin Conway CIDO

Nicole White Joins Odyssey Logistics & Technology as CIO

FuelCell Energy hires John Dutsar to lead IT

Limbach Holdings promotes Christos Ruci to CIO

Yale University elevates John Barden’s CIO role

Medtronic appoints Lidia Fonseca as a new board director

New CIO appointments, June 2022

Northwestern Mutual appoints Jeff Sippel Chief Information Officer

Brett Craig promoted to EVP & CIO at Target

Springs Window Fashions names Chetan Balsara CIO

Chris Clark joins Black Rifle Coffee Company as CTO

Brown & Brown hires Kiet Tran as CTO

Craig Kwiatkowski, PharmD, named CIO at Cedars-Sinai

Donatos names Steven Graves Chief Information Officer

XIFIN appoints John Kelly as Chief Information Officer

Cenlar FSB appoints Steven Taylor as SVP & CIO

Foley Equipment welcomes Kirk Hay as its new CIO

Lincoln Electric names Lisa Dietrich EVP & CIO

Brown Harris Stevens names Chris Reyes Chief Information & Product Officer

Adventist Health appoints Jennifer Stemmler as Chief Digital Officer

First Bank hires Terrence Thomas as CIO

Saket Srivastava joins Asana as CIO

Mike Macrie has joined Melissa & Doug as CIO

New CIO appointments, May 2022

The Home Depot Promotes Matt Carey to EVP of Customer Experience and names Fahim Siddiqui EVP and CIO

Deb Hall Lefevre hired as CTO of Starbucks

Dentons Names Ash Banerjee as Global Chief Information Officer

John Hill joins MSC Industrial Supply as SVP and Chief Digital Officer

Carhartt appoints Katrina Agusti as CIO

Lenovo adds CTO of Solutions & Services Group to Arthur Hu’s CIO responsibilities

AMD appoints Hasmukh Ranjan to SVP & CIO following Xilinx acquisition

Craig Richardville named CDIO at Intermountain Health after merger with SCL Health

FirstEnergy Promotes Ernest N. Maley to VP & CIO

OneDigital Hires Marcia Calleja-Matsko as CIO names a new CTO and a new CIO

Jessie Minton is the new CIO at Washington University in St. Louis

U.S. Medical Management appoints Kristin Darby as CIO

The Lovesac Company Appoints Todd Duran as CIO

Shokie Lopez is Santa Cruz Bicycles’ new CIO

Supplemental Health Care names Simon Curtis Chief Digital Officer

City of Oakland appoints Tony Batalla as new CIO

New CIO appointments, April 2022

PayPal Appoints Archana (Archie) Deskus as EVP & CIO

Jennifer Hartsock joins Cargill as Chief Information & Digital Officer (CIDO)

Rite Aid expands Justin Mennen’s role

Juan Perez joins Salesforce as Chief Information Officer

Mark Bloom joins Gallagher as CIO

Republic National Distributing Co. names Sanjay Shringarpure as CIO

Keolis North America appoints Alex Wu as CIO

Chico Moline assumes CIO position at Amentum

Partha Srinivasa is the new EVP & CIO at Erie Insurance

Waitr names Matthew Coy Chief Information Officer

Michael Smith is named CIO at InnovaPrep

Illumina welcomes Carissa Rollins as Chief Information Officer

Serta Simmons Bedding announces Shoukat Ali Bhamani as its new CTO

The CIA appoints La’Naia Jones as CIO of the agency

Dr. Karl Mathias appointed CIO for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Boston Mayor appoints Santiago Garces as new CIO

Monogram Foods announces incoming CIO Dawn Drewry

Ann Madea has joined Simmons Bank as CIO

Matthew Gunkel is named Associate Vice Chancellor & CIO at UC Riverside

WOWorks hires Kyle Mark as its first CIO

Insight appoints Sumana Nallapati as CIO

New CIO appointments, March 2022

Sanofi selects Lakshmi Eleswarpu as SVP & Global CIO

Dupe Akinyede is named CIO of Resideo Technologies

CME Group promotes Sunil Cutinho to CIO

Joe Carroll Named CITGO Chief Information Officer

Mark Mospan is the new CIO at Foundation Partners Group

Painters Supply & Equipment appoints Tareq Falah to CIO post

MarketAxess announces new CIO, Nash Panchal

Just Born Quality Confections names Chidi Alams to CIO post

United Natural Foods elects Shamim Mohammad to its board of directors

Cadence Appoints Mary Louise Krakauer to Board of Directors

Former Morgan Stanley CIO, Sigal Zarmi, joins BigID’s board of advisors

New CIO appointments, February 2022

Wayfair names Fiona Tan Chief Technology Officer

USAA appoints Amala Duggirala to Enterprise CIO post

Sharmeelee Bala named CIO of J.C. Penney

U.S. Senate Confirms Kurt DelBene as CIO of the VA

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield appoints Cindy Langston as its first female CIO

FirstEnergy Names Steve Fortune Vice President & CIO

Research Triangle Institute International hires Jorge Elguera as CIO

Matthew Kurpinski named CIO for ITC Holdings

Matt Watkins is the new CIO at IMA Financial Group

EmployBridge appoints Don Sloan to Chief Digital Officer position

Neiman Marcus has promoted Vijay Karthik to SVP & CTO

Flexsys appoints Jose Boloqui to be CIO

Gelson’s Markets promotes Ron Johnson to VP & CIO

Integral Ad Science Appoints Robert Janecek as CIO

Innoveo Adds Veteran CIO Al-Noor Ramji to its Board of Directors

New CIO appointments, January 2022

TIAA Appoints Sastry Durvasula Chief Information & Client Services Officer

Fannie Mae appoints Ramon Richards as Chief Information Officer

John Sherman sworn in as Department of Defense Chief Information Officer

DXC Technology names Kristie Grinnell as its Chief Information Officer

Jane Moran has joined Mass General Brigham as CIDO

Genesys names Wesley Story Chief Information Officer

Farmers Business Network hires Kumud Kokal to be its first CIO

Dave Berry is the new CIO at Boardriders

Atlanticus Holdings promotes Kas Naderi to the CIO position

Matrix Medical Network Selects Tom Catchings as CIO

St. Luke’s names Chris Sorenson Chief Information Officer

Bindu Purushothaman named CIO of Satellite Healthcare

Ram Balasubramanian joins Canoo as Chief Information Officer

Careers, CIO, IT Leadership

Next CIO returns for 2023 to continue to support the career development of aspiring IT and Tech leaders. 

Next CIO is the annual awards and mentoring programme helping aspiring IT leaders to develop their careers, build their network and improve their skill sets. It is an opportunity for aspiring digital, data, and technology leaders to join an exclusive community that supports inclusion, career development, and progress, and for current CIOs and business leaders to reward their colleagues and peers on what they have achieved. 

2022 welcomed 26 members to the Next CIO Cohort and throughout the year were connected with a CIO mentor and gained exclusive access to some of the UK’s leading digital, data, and technology professionals through workshops and sessions. 

Workshops included balancing great leadership, communicating with the board, determining how we learn and tech skill development strategies, as well as sharp strategy, and the transition to being a first-time CIO. 

Dave Roberts, a next CIO Judge, and mentor shared with CIO: “I think it’s incredibly important to be able to have people on your journey that can give you an unbiased view of what you’re going through at the time”.  

With Next CIO UK targeting digital, data, and technology professionals with aspirations of being in a senior executive role within five years, it represents an opportunity to recognise developing talents while addressing the IT industry’s biggest flaw – diversity.  

A recent report by TTC, discussed in this CIO report, shared that only 22% of senior tech roles are held by gender minorities, a figure that is 6% lower when compared to tech roles overall, while ethnic diversity almost halves in senior roles, dropping from 25% to 13%. 

Howson and Roberts shared last year how aspiring leaders will need a breadth of skills and highlighted how “[they’d] love to see more female leaders and I know that we as a judging group would love to see more diverse leaders in all areas, across the board.”  

“For me, this is a way of helping us reach the next generation of technology leaders, to encourage and showcase a diversity of technology leaders, and show that you can come from any kind of career path to get into that CIO or CTO spot.” 

2023 will host a similar series of workshops and will continue the mentoring programme. Next CIO members will also be invited to various networking events and CIO Forums and Summits.  

How to apply for Next CIO? What to include in your submission? 

Applications for Next CIO UK are now open until 31st March 2023. Award submissions can be made directly by the nominee, or on their behalf by a line manager or senior executive.  You can view the virtual session with judges Dave Roberts, Dom Howson, and Nadine Thomson on how to apply here: 

All entries will be reviewed by the expert judging panel and the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony in London on 16th June 2022.  

“Have the confidence and apply,” says Thomson. “If you’re on the [webinar], then you’re good enough put an application in. That would be my call to arms.”  

Other top tips from the judges from the on-demand webinar: 

Be authentic, passionate and reflect on your achievements from the last 12 months.   Provide a level of detail on your achievements…but be concise and to the point. Show data and evidence where possible, as well as support from senior leaders.  Show where you’ve had a clear business impact.  Illustrate how you’ve taken new approaches to fixing problems.  Show a willingness to pursue professional development.  Understand that not everyone is a storyteller – but write the submission in your own words  Appreciate that no one is the finished article – everyone is learning.  Ask a colleague to review your application before submission  

Apply for the Next CIO programme here by 31st March. The Next CIO Awards will be hosted at the Goldsmith Centre in London on Thursday 15th June.   


With a talent for developing people and inspiring innovation from her teams, Anita Klopfenstein has built a powerhouse IT organization since joining Little Caesars in 2017 as its CIO. One of the secrets behind her success as a leader is her love of learning. After majoring in both computer science and radio, television and film, she went on to earn an MBA. Over the course of her career, she’s remained curious — not just about technology and business, but about leadership, cultures, and communities. She explains that continually expanding her knowledge and trying new things makes her better able to see problems and opportunities differently.

When we spoke for the Tech Whisperers podcast, we unpacked her leadership philosophies and career journey, including how she’s transformed IT at Little Caesars and within the pizza industry by taking on the role of “Chief Obstacle Remover.” Afterwards, we spent more time exploring the culture, values, and innovation that make Little Caesars an amazing place to work. What follows is that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Dan Roberts: Little Caesars has a rich history of innovation and a spirt of fun that really go back to the company’s founders, Mike and Marian Ilitch. Can you talk about how the values shape that culture today?

It’s so great to be with such an iconic brand. Whenever I’m wearing or carrying something with the logo on it, people feel compelled to say ‘Pizza! Pizza!’ or come up and talk to me because they just love this brand so much. It goes back to Mike and Marian creating that passion and inspiring and motivating people to put their entire heart into the brand.

People who have been here 30-plus years will tell you, the culture they created for Little Caesars and their energy and love of people inspired colleagues to do their very best. And they love these two people so much. They still talk about ‘Mr. and Mrs. I’ and their passion for their families. Mrs. I’s first question is never about the business or what do you do here. It is about your family and are you having fun.

How do you instill those values into a young, ever-changing workforce?

We have many ways that we try to keep that culture moving. We have service awards. We literally have a full Thanksgiving dinner for our colleagues. We have a holiday party where we take over the Little Caesars arena. We have a big company picnic where we go to a Detroit Tigers game. [Ed. note: Little Caesars Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers are all part of Ilitch Companies.] Every department has some sort of an event. My organization has an annual town hall around Halloween, and my entire leadership team, including myself, dress up in costumes. We have our own IT service awards. I always have an opening day potluck. It’s just trying to develop that camaraderie with the group.

Every new colleague also goes through a culture class by David Scrivano, our CEO. It tells them the story of Little Caesars and Mike and Marian and why our guiding principles are so valuable. We all go through that periodically to refresh it in our minds. We have a beautiful new building and on the second and third floors is a historical walkthrough of our company. As you’re walking through those, you can see and feel that culture represented. All of that helps get everybody charged up.

The harder part is getting that culture across when we’re working remotely. So we still remind folks of our culture and play some of the videos for them periodically. We look for ways to get folks to come back in the building, whether it be a food court or a cappuccino man coming in. It’s about trying to get folks to come in and have that close engagement with one another.

Little Caesars’ first value is ‘Serve Others.’ What does that mean in practice, and how do you reinforce it?

We live by our values. In fact, our service awards are all geared around rewarding and recognizing people who do these very well. ‘Serve Others’ reflects our commitment to making our customers lives easier every chance we get. This could be the customer buying the pizza in the store, but it could also be supporting a store franchisee or supporting a colleague if they’re having a problem, because, especially in IT, our direct customers are our franchisees and our colleagues.

So, for example, one of our project coordinators worked through the night to ensure that a store opened up on time and properly. It wasn’t his problem. It was because of someone else’s lack of planning. But he had that strong desire to serve this franchisee to make sure that their first experience with opening up a Little Caesars store was positive, so they could sell those pizzas that next day.

The second value is ‘Own Your Work.’ What does that look like at Little Caesars?

This is a big one to me. We set high standards, and we embrace accountability. Do a great job, admit when you fail, and have passion for your work. This is what I love about our IT team, because sometimes they set such high standards for themselves that I’ll say, this is good enough. We can roll it out now. Let’s put all those other things that you want to do in a ‘to-do’ list and we’ll work them out, but let’s go.

For me embracing accountability is key. I have always felt it is better to fall on your sword and admit you made a mistake and let’s figure out where we go from here. This is what that particular value also embraces.

The third one, ‘Invent Something,’ seems steeped in the company’s culture. Can you talk about how that permeates what you do?

Inventing is very core to Little Caesars. As you mentioned on the podcast, we were the first ones to come up with the conveyor oven to send the pizzas through and bake them that way. From the first conveyor all the way to our pizza portal that we use for digital ordering, you can tell that we just love to invent things. In fact, we have a group we call Area 51, which means I really can’t talk about it, but they get all the fun work of coming up with a lot of cool new ideas.

It’s really about taking the initiative and being adventurous and open-minded. In IT, we had an employee demonstrate this value when they wanted to go invent a self-service option for our customers in the store. On his own, over the weekend, he developed an app to allow customers to come in, scan a product, pay and say, ‘Look, I paid for three things, and I can go.’ We’re actually gearing up to test it in a store.

The fourth value is ‘Never Give Up,’ which is so powerful. Could you expand on number five, ‘Be an All-Star’?

If you think about the all-stars on a team, they inspire, they motivate, they mentor, and they make an impact. We also strive to be a force for good and fun. I call this our rally cry. An all-star is that person who, when you are fourth and goal, says, come on team, we can do this. Here’s how we can get it done. They motivate the team. When that project looks impossible, they help everyone succeed and get things done just by creating a fun work environment. Words matter, but so does how you treat your people during a project, and an all-star person is kind of that big cheerleader of the group.

When you’re taking people on big journeys, how do you communicate the vision for the initiative and get people excited about it?

It’s really the ‘Mission Impossible’ story plot. You define the mission: Here’s what we need to do. Define the why: Why are we doing this? What is the business purpose? What is the problem we’re solving? Define the enemy: What are the risks? What are the unknowns? What are some things we’re going to do to help mitigate them?

You define the teams and the roles: You’ve got your Tom Cruise guy who has all the fun gadgets. You’ve got the ones on the comms. You define that so everyone knows their part to play. Then it’s what ammunition do you have: What support are you getting from your senior leadership? What are the resources, the budgets? What are the tools? What else do we need?

You also need to have a well-thought-out plan: We’re going to learn more as we go, but here’s how things are going to progress. Here’s where we’re going with this. And then, as the leader, ensure you’re the one taking the bullets while rallying them around the cause.

That’s exactly what we did with our CV in the Cloud project. Everybody was already drained. They’d been trying to roll out this core product that was using unsupported software, and they felt defeated, and they were tired, and it was, let’s go build new. As we talked more, everyone said yeah, we can do it. We’ll have to go outside and get experts in this, but by planning that out, they felt better about it. It wasn’t me coming in saying, ‘We’re going to go do this; let’s figure it out.’ It was me coming in and being excited, telling them how they’re going to help solve this problem and they’re going to help pull this off and that they’re critical roles. That rallied them around it, and here we are now, rolling it out worldwide.

What’s your advice to IT people managers in today’s world, where we want people to be all-stars, but there’s also this environment of ‘quiet quitting’ and uncertainty and maybe the manager doesn’t want to rock the boat?

I believe every person truly wants to do the best job possible. And I believe that if you as a leader can find the hidden talent of that person, inspire them, recognize them, and support them, then they’re going to do the best that they can. They’re going to want to ensure that they’re successful because you have so much trust in them.

People also need to feel that what they’re doing matters: Don’t just hand me a project. Don’t hand me a task. Help me understand. Why am I doing it? How will it impact the business? If you can do that for a team, they are going to move mountains for you. But if they do and you don’t value and appreciate them, you’re going to get quiet quitters. So find out what motivates your team and how you can have fun. You don’t have to have money to have fun. I will bring in cornhole and we will have cornhole tournaments. I’ve let them throw cream pies at me if they hit a goal. Look for ways the team can come together.

With the Great Resignation, we were starting to have people leave, and our first inclination was, we’ve got to hold on to everybody. I would rather have five solid, motivated, warrior all-stars than twenty quiet quitters. If people want to leave, I need to learn from that: Is there something we can do better? Is there something about how we’re running our teams? Are there places I need to dig into to make sure folks are getting treated the way we want them to be treated? But I also don’t want to chase after people.

So what I would tell IT managers is, rock the boat, and if you fall out of the boat, it’s not the boat you’re supposed to be in. And then go find another boat.

For more from ORBIE Award-winning CIO Anita Klopfenstein, tune in to the Tech Whisperers podcast.

IT Leadership

With technology increasingly central to business value, CIOs stepping up to plus-size roles and even making the leap from CIO to CEO is no longer the rare feat it once was. Still, earning that corner office is an achievement few IT leaders can list among their career accomplishments.

As XPO’s first CIO, Mario Harik played a key role in making the logistics company an industry leader and innovation powerhouse. Now, as XPO looks to capitalize on that foundation, Harik’s deep understanding of both IT and the business has made him the perfect candidate to helm the company in its next phase, having become CEO and a member of the board last August.

Here, we discuss Harik’s vision for growth for the logistics firm, how data and IT play a vital role in that, and how CIOs who aspire to be CEOs should approach IT as an innovative means for achieving high returns on invested capital.

Martha Heller: As CEO of XPO, what is your vision for growth?

Mario Harik: XPO completed the spin-off of our asset-light business back in November, and now we are one of the largest less-than-truckload carriers here in North America. Our focus is to grow that business, both in terms of gaining market share, as well as expanding our profits and margins.

We will continue the customer-centric strategy that we put in place when I took over the business nearly a year ago. Technology innovation has been in our DNA since day one of the company, and it continues to be central to who we are today.

Our three major focus areas are to provide best-in-class service to our customers; invest in the business by adding terminals, equipment, and people[ and leverage our technology edge to optimize margins and grow market share.

Ever since we started the company back in 2011, when I was CIO, we’ve been using data to improve our operations. Data will be central to our growth as well.

What are some examples of how you are innovating in your use of data?

When you leverage data in the right way, you can transform how you operate a freight business. We are working on an initiative that uses machine learning to optimize how we move freight through a network of roughly 294 terminals. These are machine learning–based models that look at which trucks need to move where, what we are loading onto the trailers, and how many trailers the trucks should haul to maximize efficiency.

Another example is our SMART platform, a dock efficiency and labor management platform that allows us to predict how much volume we will get in any given terminal and ensure that we are properly staffed to handle the volume.

Finally, we have API-based capabilities that make it easy for us to onboard customers into our systems so that they can do business with us digitally. Customers can quote, book, track, and manage their entire shipment lifecycle online, all with self-service.

How did you move from CIO to CEO of XPO?

Our executive chairman, Brad Jacobs, hired me back when he founded the company in 2011. As the third person on the team, I was part of a small group of people who ran the company during our early days. Over the years, I’ve expanded my role. I’ve held the roles of CIO, chief customer officer, where I ran our global sales team, and in the year before I became CEO, I ran our less-than-truckload business, which is now our sole business in North America after we spun off our asset-light business.

In each of those roles, I was entrenched in how we run our operations, expand our business, grow our profits, and deliver shareholder value along the way.

Before XPO, I had an engineering background. I graduated from MIT and worked in the technology sector, then moved to the waste and recycling industry where I was the CIO for a large asset-light company. The combination of a technology background, working in several different executive positions, and the fact that XPO has always been a technology-driven company, all gave me the opportunity to become CEO.

What advice do you have for CIOs about how to build credibility with the board so that they receive board support when put up for a CEO position?

Be very commercially focused. Does the technology solution you are proposing allow the company to gain market share, provide best-in-class service for customers, or expand margins through operational efficiency? CIOs who aspire to be CEOs should think about their current roles as driving technology innovation that leads to high returns on invested capital. That perspective will resonate with the board.

What new skills did you need to develop as CEO?

As CIO, I was already using the two most important skills of a CEO: a commitment to a high ROI across the entire business, and a focus on people, because people deliver results. CIOs who become CEOs need to expand their focus to the company’s entire employee base, with strong feedback loops to ensure a high level of engagement across the workforce.

As CIO, you are focused on the technology programs you are driving and the desired outcomes. As CEO, the programs you support expand beyond technology to process improvements, sales, service, and every aspect of the business.

As CIO, you are primarily focused internally on your own teams and employees, and whether they have the tools they need to be efficient. As CEO, you have a much broader set of stakeholders, including the media, because you are the public face of the company.  When I became CEO, I did not need to learn new skills as much as expand my areas of impact.

What advice do you have for CIOs who would like to be CEOs?

Familiarize yourself with all aspects of the business and how technology can drive business outcomes. Spend time with your customers to understand the value that your business can offer to them. Understand how to integrate your company’s capabilities with your customers’, and always look at technology with an ROI angle.

Have strong feedback loops. When we deploy technology solutions, we ask a lot of people to give feedback, especially people in the field. The biggest learning I have had in my career is the importance of spending time in the field, in the terminals, and talking to our drivers, dock workers, and frontline supervisors about how we can improve our business. This is essential when you are CEO, because you get a very different vantage point than looking at metrics or talking to executives.

CIOs who become CEOs give their companies a distinct competitive advantage. When you are a CEO with a CIO background, and you understand the inner workings of the technology solutions you are building as well as their intended commercial impact, and you increase your focus on building a world-class senior leadership team, you can have a powerful impact on your P&L.

CEO, CIO, IT Leadership

We proudly announce the launch of the CIO Tech Talk Community, an exclusive online community brought to you by Foundry (publisher of CIO, CSO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, and other technology sites).

The CIO Tech Talk Community is a safe and trusted environment to share stories, best practices, and conversations, and network with peers and industry thought leaders. Members will receive weekly emails inviting them to participate in real-time live chat sessions, polls, surveys, and discussion boards. You’ll have an opportunity to see the latest thought leadership from the Foundry editorial brands that you know and trust, including CIO, CSO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, and Network World.

Click here to take the membership qualification survey.

We are excited to share exclusive insider information and to enable you to interact with some of Foundry’s research, editorial, and other industry experts. Along the way, we’d also like to learn a little bit more about you, your unique interests, and how we can enhance your role as an IT decision-maker.

As a member of this community, you’ll help us provide your peers with the relevant real-world insights they need to put technology to work in their professional and personal lives. It is our hope that you will drop in and see us at least once a week. Your feedback is very important and will help shape future offerings. In return, we will regularly share with you how your feedback is being used to inform Foundry’s content, events, services, and ideas. You can also earn rewards along the way!

How do I join?

Tell us a bit about you and what interests you in a short survey and see if you qualify to become a member of the CIO Tech Talk Community. It should take about 3-4 minutes to complete. 

Click here to take the membership qualification survey.

Why Join?

As a member of the CIO Tech Talk Community, you’ll be invited to share your views on developments in the tech world through participation in live chat sessions, polls, surveys, and discussion boards.

As a thank you for your time, you can earn points to access exclusive research, earn cash, and make donations to charities. In addition, you’ll receive exclusive insider information and opportunities to interact with some of Foundry’s research, editorial, and other industry experts.

Click here to take the membership qualification survey.

For more information about being a member of the Community, send us an email at

IT Leadership

Bryson Koehler, Chief Product, Data, Analytics and Technology Officer at Equifax, joins host Maryfran Johnson for this CIO Leadership Live interview, jointly produced by and the CIO Executive Council. They discuss “decision intelligence” vs. data overload, advancing ethical AI, cloud native operations and more.

Watch this episode:

Listen to this episode:

Careers, CIO, CIO Leadership Live