Special Report: Premier 100 IT Leaders 2014

The 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders: Reinventing themselves many times over

These 100 men and women have reset their career paths many times on their way to the top. Who needs a comfort zone?

Special Report

Premier 100 IT Leaders 2014

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Two other critical leadership skills to be gained in relation to reinvention are a mastery of relationships and, perhaps most important, the ability to conceptualize and communicate a vision for your team, department, organization and the enterprise as a whole. To acquire both skills, it helps if you like -- no, love -- change and actively pursue change opportunities.

"For me, it's a personal preference. I love change. So does my wife," says Tony Saldanha, general manager of global business services at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.

"We lived in Japan, and our kids were born there," he says. "My approach to living in a different culture is that it's a great learning experience. My approach to my career is the same. I want to move across experiences. If I've done infrastructure for three years, I want to do something outward-facing. I always go with an open mind."

Over the course of his career at P&G, Saldanha has worked in six countries and in functions ranging from procurement to infrastructure. "Over a period of time, you end up being able to blend those experiences, which is an asset in senior leadership."

Similarly, Genentech CIO Cindy Elkins says she "loves being on an incredibly high learning curve." Changing industries played right into that love.

Cindy Elkins
Cindy Elkins

One of Elkins' biggest career leaps occurred when she moved from an executive position at Ariba, a high-tech company, to her current CIO role in the biotech industry.

"I didn't grow up with a science background, but what I loved about biotech was that IT was an equal partner in helping scientists help patients every day," Elkins says. By contrast, "in technology companies, IT can be viewed a little like a second-class citizen," she says.

Still, Elkins -- like so many of this year's Premier 100 honorees -- had a firm nudge out of her comfort zone by a mentor in HR. "She said I should get out of high-tech. She told me she believed in me," Elkins recalls. With that, her next reinvention was underway and she hasn't looked back. Elkins expects to reinvent herself again and again, but she can't pinpoint precisely when and where those new opportunities will present themselves.

"When people see those of us in these types of leadership positions, they think we had it all mapped out and it's all an upward climb," Elkins says. "In fact, it's more like rock climbing or a jungle gym, but you can only see this in retrospect."

Next: See the full list of 2014 honorees

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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