When the CIO is also the CFO
Is it smart management or a recipe for disaster when one executive is both CIO and CFO?
Computerworld - IT exec Jeremy Hopkins has a bit more on his plate these days than some of his colleagues in high tech. Hopkins is the CIO at World Telecom Group in Malibu, Calif., a job that keeps him hopping.
And he's also the CFO.
It's an unusual situation, but one Hopkins feels was necessary to quickly get the company up to speed as it grew toward $10 million in annual revenue without a clear technology budget or the type of IT strategy common at more mature companies.
"It was clear that there really had to be a lot of coordination and communication between the financial model and the data model," says Hopkins, who was hired as part of a push by leadership to get the company to the next level of revenue and growth. "For a company that needs to undergo rapid change quickly, this is a good fit."
Like other executives who find themselves carrying a dual CIO-CFO title, Hopkins fell into the position through an unusual set of circumstances. Before taking on the CFO-CIO job in July of 2010, he had worked as a consultant with World Telecom for a year, advising officials on tech issues because the company didn't have an IT leader at the time.
Then the CFO resigned. Hopkins, who has an MBA and some finance experience, stepped up and proposed the joint position as a way to move the company forward quickly.
The dual appointment gives him flexibility to maneuver fast and make decisions without getting bogged down by the "necessary investments vs. fiscal constraint" debate that often arises between CIOs and CFOs, Hopkins says.
His dual position is rare but not unique, industry watchers say.
Other organizations that have merged the two jobs into one find that the combined position can offer important benefits, provided it fits the business's circumstances.
"This is a growing trend, and I think it's a positive step," declares Ron Box, CFO and CIO at Joe Money Machinery Co., a Birmingham, Ala.-based company that sells and rents construction equipment. Box has put in the time to make that assessment: He has held both positions simultaneously for five years.
Bullish as he is on the arrangement, Box acknowledges that he didn't set out to be a dual-title holder. He started with the company in the finance department 16 years ago and moved up to the CFO spot after about six years.
Jim Money, vice president, general manager and director at the family-owned enterprise, says that he and other leaders came to believe several years ago that the company was lagging when it came to technology.
The IT department was able to keep the computers humming, but it didn't have the wherewithal to focus on strategy. "There was no one who could look at a three- or five-year business plan and say, 'These are the IT resources I think we should include in our projects,'" says Box.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- The CIO's Guide to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) This guide will help those making an EMM platform decision make the best choice for their organization.
- Yankee Group: BlackBerry Results Refute Rumors of its Demise Yankee Group: BlackBerry® is stronger than the press makes it out to be.
- Your New EMM Platform: How to Streamline the Migration Smartphone migration can be resource-intensive and challenging. Find out how outsourcing the process can save significant time and money.
- Live Webcast Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing...
- Testimonial: Cystic Fibrosis Trust Peter Hawkins, the Head of IT for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, discusses the role CommVault's Simpana software platform plays in improving the company's information...
- Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing... All Management White Papers | Webcasts