Premier 100 IT Leader profile: Joshua Jewett

Business growth requires a new set of leadership skills

As CIO at Family Dollar, Joshua Jewett has had to grow with the business -- and become more business-focused along the way.

As the company doubled in size to more than $8.5 billion over his nine-year tenure, he says, "I've had to go from hands-on leadership to more strategic leadership working through my direct reports. You have to effect outcomes through others, and that's a different skill." To accomplish that, he reorganized IT around multidisciplinary customer-service teams. "We used to be like a Ford assembly line," he says. The new teams are more responsive and customer-focused, says Jewett.

Under his leadership, the IT group revamped in-store IT infrastructure while keeping within a tight budget. "We need all of the capabilities of a big-box store in a low-cost footprint," he says.

Jewett, 42, also collaborated with the CEO and the executive team to throw traditional budgeting out the window. Previously, IT would create an annual budget at a very granular level of detail for projects that never materialized. "That was incredibly demoralizing and a huge waste of time," says Jewett. Now, he says, he starts with the business' priorities, channels funding toward those, and develops a road map. "It's a model designed to deal with the inevitability of change," he says.

Jewett is all about the business, and he's a full partner with the rest of the executive team, says Tim Chew, vice president of technical services. "He's trying to guide the business versus just guiding IT," says Chew.

— Robert L. Mitchell

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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