Premier 100 IT Leader: Ger Purcell

Collaboration and employee development are two of this IT leader's priorities.

Technology distributor Avnet thrives on connecting customers with the technology suppliers and products they need to further their business. Thanks to Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global information solutions, Avnet employees make the connections they need to further their careers.

Gerard Purcell

At Avnet, Purcell, 48, established a "technology day" and job-shadowing program, offering employees the opportunity to learn about new technologies and cross-train with colleagues in other departments. Participants are given the resources to define their career trajectories, resulting in a high level of engagement across the company. "An engaged team gets results," says Purcell.

Purcell is no stranger to collaboration and transformation, having originally studied mechanical engineering before finding his way into client services on a career path that eventually led him to the CIO post at Gateway. There, he reported to Steve Phillips, who as CIO at Avnet is once again Purcell's manager. "He's always been an intuitive, collaborative person," says Phillips. "He's not there just as the IT person. He's an equal partner around the table."

"The days of being just the IT person are rapidly coming to a close," agrees Purcell. An interdisciplinary approach is vital not just across departments, but within his own. "You're only as good as the people on your team. If they don't see you a trusted adviser, you'll not be able to drive an IT strategy that affects the business."

Of both Avnet and its employees, Purcell says, "You have to be self-critical and allow change."

Next: Return to the full list of 2014 honorees

Ken Gagne is a freelance writer covering Macs, retro computing and electronic entertainment. You can find him at or on Twitter (@IDGagne).

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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