Timothy P. Cox, CIO, OnStar Corp.

Despite a slowing global economy, General Motors Corp.'s OnStar unit has been growing by leaps and bounds as its in-vehicle technology has been extended to GM's entire automotive line. OnStar is also working to expand its offerings to China and beyond through a joint venture. All the while, OnStar CIO Timothy Cox, 53, has had a steady hand at the wheel.

"We need good reliability and discipline, and sound management, to maintain service to our subscribers," says Cox. Upcoming offerings include turn-by-turn navigation and a system that slows down stolen vehicles, and rapid software development and delivery are essential to stay competitive, he says.

"I've been in the industry for over 20 years, and Tim could be the best," says Chris Steele, director of IT operations at Detroit-based OnStar. "Some people are better at vision or execution, some with application development. With him, you get the whole package: He works with leaders and the extended team on delivery, keeping customers satisfied, having a sound operation. He's hands-on and leads from the front."

"One challenge is to scale our infrastructure whilst maintaining 24/7 service for our subscriber base," says Nick Bell, CIO of GM North America. "It's akin to changing the engine of an aircraft while it's in flight. This past weekend, half of a major infrastructure cutover happened, and I was privileged to spend the weekend with Tim and his team."

As for execution, Bell says that he received an instant message from Cox after the cutover project: "All quiet. All team members tired but walking with a bounce in their step."

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