2016 Premier 100 Technology Leaders

Meet the 2016 Premier 100

The annual Computerworld Premier 100 awards shine a spotlight on individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through technology.

This year’s honorees represent more than 20 industries and organizations of all sizes, so you’re sure to find a project that piques your interest. Many of these technology executives -- some just starting out, and others well along in their careers -- also identify the title they aspire to someday. Their ideas could help you map out your own IT trajectory.

Michael J. Restuccia

Michael J. Restuccia

Title
Vice president and CIO

Employer
Penn Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Location
Philadelphia

Career highlight:
Being honored as a member of the Philadelphia 100 Hall of Fame for serving as the executive in charge of a privately held company that was recognized on the annual Philadelphia 100 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies list five times.

Coolest project:
Penn Medicine has deployed Apple’s Health Kit in our cardiovascular service to monitor a select group of postpartum women for hypertension in order to reduce the risk of heart failure and/or stroke. This initial effort has already resulted in alerting caregivers to potentially dangerous clinical conditions and enabled them to respond in a timely fashion to avoid further patient complications.

A recent innovative staff idea:
PennSeek, a tool to search and liberate data from the nearly 100 million textual documents within the Penn Medicine’s clinical environment. The tool scans vast amounts of documents in seconds to identify keywords and phrases in order to facilitate research activities.

Your vendor management strategy:
Our approach has focused on working with fewer vendors, but in a deeper and more strategic manner. Our preference is vendors that display integration versus interoperability.

Calvin C. Rhodes

Calvin C. Rhodes

Title
CIO

Employer
State of Georgia

Location
Atlanta

Career highlight:
I had the opportunity to brief members of Georgia’s congressional delegation on policy issues related to IT, talking about the strides the state has made in disaster recovery and redundancy as well as the valuable public and private sector partnerships formed to strengthen cybersecurity.

Coolest project:
Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources is deploying augmented reality to give people an enhanced connection to the state’s historical heritage. For example, visitors to Camp Lawton, once a Confederate military prison, can use their mobile devices to view a 3D reconstruction of the stockade, layering historical drawings, sound, video and GPS data onto the site’s real-world environment.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Government-sector data centers will modify their management tools and techniques to mirror the operation of cloud providers. This retooling will simplify the shifting of workloads.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
In the public sector, big data has yet to deliver on its promise. We’ve seen few real-world examples of useful applications in government.

Wesley Richard

Wesley Richard

Title
Vice president, Innovation and Operations

Employer
Collegiate Licensing Co.

Location
Atlanta

Coolest project:
Our Insights project, which uses new data visualization technology. It’s changing the culture of our company to focus on data-driven strategic decisions.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Data architect and analysts. We will hire fresh expertise to help us fully exploit our data capabilities while training internal analysts who already know our business. This combination will give us the greatest chance for quick success.

Fastest-ROI project:
Electronic signatures. As a licensing agent, we execute tens of thousands agreements annually. We have experienced up to a 75% decrease in contract execution time with the implementation of electronic signatures.

Title you aspire to:
Chief operating officer. My current role is a steppingstone to COO. My foundation is technical, my expertise is operational efficiency, and I’m working on my financial skills.

Debbie Rieger

Debbie Rieger

Title
Interim CIO (employed by Tatum)

Employer
Alameda Alliance for Health

Location
Alameda, Calif.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
CIOs will either need to reinvent themselves or become more like an IT chief operating officer.

New titles in your IT organization:
Application architect, data steward

Skills you will hire for this year:
Business analysts, director of technology and director of applications

Your vendor management strategy:
I like to deal with known vendors that have had success with organizations similar to mine, rather than trying out vendors and working with them to develop their products.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
I offer on-target and highly valuable analysis when considering different IT systems and am adept at identifying risks and preparing contingencies to ensure that all IT projects keep business operations moving seamlessly.

Title you aspire to:
CEO

David Robbins

David Robbins

Title
Senior vice president and CIO

Employer
Ellie Mae

Location
Pleasanton, Calif.

Career highlight:
I was very fortunate to be part of the space program during the post-Challenger Space Shuttle era. I relocated from the Midwest to Central Florida to build and deploy the shuttle processing data management systems in the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center. During my time there, I saw close to 30 launches and was able to spend 90 minutes inside the Discovery spacecraft. I used to say it was the only job I would ever have where I could walk by 5 tons of solid rocket fuel on the way to my office.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
All active data in private clouds will be on solid-state drives.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
In general, the lack of movement to cloud and software-as-a-service for large enterprises. They continue to spend heavily on incumbent technology and sacrifice budget to innovate.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Security and DevOps as well as some high-end infrastructure engineers: virtualization, network and storage.

How do you find time to innovate?
To sustain value, innovation must be a part of your daily routine. Organizations that aren’t under pressure typically are slow to innovate -- if they innovate at all.

Michael Rosello

Michael Rosello

Title
Senior vice president and CIO

Employer
Alliance Data

Location
Columbus, Ohio

A recent innovative staff idea:
Drivers’ license technology. In the payments space, we are the only ones to do this. Simply swiping your drivers’ license for authorization of a purchase at one of our clients’ brands using the magnetic stripe on back of the license. We have patented this process in 2015.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Agile developers, next-generation security professionals and Java developers.

What’s the most important task you’ve delegated?
I gave my outsourcing relationship responsibilities to a new director of governance, asking that individual to manage day-to-day operations.

Your vendor management strategy:
We have to accommodate many more vendors than we did in the past. This goes beyond vendor due diligence, and the strategy is more around execution and integration of all of them.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We have an incubation team that has a dedicated lab to test new, innovative technologies.

Houston D. Ross

Houston D. Ross

Title
Vice president and chief operating officer

Employer
NN Life Insurance Co. (on March 1, transitioning to a new role as chief operating officer and CIO of the Czech Republic and Slovakia)

Location
Tokyo, Japan

Coolest project:
Our final migration to our private cloud. We are the first insurer in Japan to utilize VCE Vblocks. This move has allowed us to move from three data centers to two and from more than 800 servers to 60. As we migrate applications to our cloud technology, I hear the stories, sometimes unreal, regarding performance increases. For example, it used to take our actuaries eight hours for one particular model to run. That runtime dropped to 30 minutes after we migrated to the cloud.

A recent innovative staff idea:
Implementation of a sales training platform that all of our potential independent agents can log in to from any location in order to access training and product information.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
As user consumption drives organizations to adapt and deliver products and services faster, IT will move from a back-office function to a front-office function.

New titles in your IT organization:
Cybersecurity specialist, testing manager and cloud architect

Title you aspire to:
I have recently been promoted to COO, but I must admit that my heart yearns for the CIO role.

Andrew J. Santacroce

Andrew J. Santacroce

Title
Vice president, Global IT

Employer
BDP International

Location
Philadelphia

Career highlight:
The opportunity to pair my professional career with my philanthropic and public service efforts. Bringing technology options to organizations that don’t have ready access.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
The Internet of Things. We have several pilots going on internally utilizing IoT, based on ideas raised by our existing technology and business teams. Based on pilot outcomes, we will look to incorporate these capabilities into active projects.

Coolest project:
Big data solutions paired with machine-to-machine communications for real-time asset tracking.

A recent innovative staff idea:
The virtualization of every function in IT.

How are you using reverse-mentoring to learn from younger generations?
I work regularly with local colleges to understand the opinions and preferences of younger generations regarding technology and work environment.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Today, many companies employ a dedicated chief information security officer within IT. As has happened with other specialized functions in IT, I see the practices currently driven by today’s CISOs becoming embedded in the daily operation of every area in IT and not existing as a separate, distinct role within the IT organizations of the future.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
Presence-based technologies. They showed great promise but have delivered little value.

Greg Sarich

Greg Sarich

Title
Senior vice president of Enterprise Support and CIO

Employer
CPS Energy

Location
San Antonio

Coolest project:
The enterprise information technology team is modernizing our fleet infrastructure and implementing 4G wireless technology in all of our vehicles supporting crews and field teams. This replaces old radio systems and enables us to utilize voice, video and graphical information to support our customers and CPS Energy teams supporting customers in the field.

New titles in your IT organization:
I added a director of IT governance and strategy, and a manager for the vendor management office. Governance and strategy are key to driving portfolio management across the entire business. Having a leader focused on IT procurement and driving vendor performance is essential to cost management and predictable operations.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
To drive further empowerment and engagement of the organization, I am committed to demonstrating the behaviors and accountability I am asking of every individual. How can I expect them to change or be different if I am not an example of the change we need?

Title you aspire to:
Chief operating officer is my next goal. Technology is integrated across all organizational business processes, and CIOs are uniquely positioned to see how the business works end to end.

Chuck Scoggins

Chuck Scoggins

Title
Senior director, Guest Facing Technologies

Employer
Hilton Worldwide

Location
Memphis, Tenn.

Coolest project:
We are pairing Internet of Things technology with existing systems to improve our guests’ experiences. Our digital check-in with room selection gives guests access to back-of-house tasks.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
I roll up my sleeves and work alongside the team. Recently, we were expanding our digital guest experiences on-property. We spent two to three days with partners, sponsors and developers. I took time to understand the system from the bottom up, then gave my perspective.

Your vendor management strategy:
Like many large companies, we have both outsourced and insourced certain tasks within projects. Right now, we are able to call partners as we need them. However, we keep most of our intelligence in-house.

How do you find time to innovate?
I have a strong team that’s capable of driving technologies forward, allowing me to focus on the next level. I am passionate about education and research, which spawns new ideas. Once I explore the concepts, I share them with my team and we discuss implementation or move to the next idea.

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