GE Capital's Karen Blackie manages a follow-the-sun operating model

As VP of enterprise systems and data, she oversees a team of 180 people in nine countries.

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Karen Blackie has held several IT, quality and risk leadership roles in both the U.S. and Europe during her 20-plus years with GE Capital, roles in which she led teams through a quickly changing technology landscape. She now holds the title of CIO, enterprise systems and data, and is responsible for design, development and operations of enterprisewide applications.

Working in what she calls "a true follow-the-sun operating model," Blackie oversees 180 people in nine countries. "As one team closes down their day, another team picks up the baton," she says. Her tenure has given her insight into what it takes to build and run a world-class organization.

What is your division's role? We're a centrally managed organization in different locations, but we work with the speed and agility as if we were local. From the shared services perspective, GE Capital is not any different from other large organizations. We want to eliminate complexity from processes and the system. I think of "smartification" as the new simplification: working much smarter than we did before.

What do you mean by smartification? It's a word for me that encompasses everything we've been striving for. It's being more nimble, reducing costs. If you can do all that and work smarter at the same time, it helps the organization across the board. To do it well, you need a great team that's business-savvy — that in some cases knows the business as well as the business people do — and they need to contribute to shaping the strategy. If they can do that, that means IT is being successful.

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