IT leaders who shatter the mold

Some technology executives don't simply defy convention; they craft a whole new definition of leadership. Learn who was named to the Premier 100 class of 2009 -- and how they're blazing new management trails.

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Big mistake. Younger workers largely ignored the system because what they wanted was a site where they could customize the look and feel of their information, photos and other content. "They told us loud and clear that they didn't want to look like Deloitte. They wanted to look like themselves," Oglesby says.

To its credit, Deloitte responded with a new version of D Street that includes blogs, wikis, support for RSS feeds and customization tools.

"Our CEO and our most senior leadership recognize that the future for us is Gen Y, women and minorities. We are making an active play for Gen Y, and technology is a big part of it," Oglesby says.

In something of a twist on Oglesby's Gen Y strategy, Vincent Melvin, 45, CIO at Arrow Electronics Inc., last summer chartered each member of his leadership team to hire and work with twentysomething interns.

"It was an interesting experience for all of us," says Melvin. One of the things you notice is how those folks are driving the use of wikis and tool sets like YouTube and Facebook. It's the way they go about their social life and their work life."

Arrow is also using more Web-based technologies to create tighter links with its customers. Currently, under agreements with two suppliers, it can view inventory beyond its own warehouse and monitor the suppliers' stock.

"Now we can see all inventory and can pull it proactively," Melvin explains. "In some cases, we can add products to a sale, whereas before, we didn't have the flexibility to do that quickly or efficiently."

He says Arrow is looking to expand this kind of business and technology relationship across all of its suppliers, providing them with an array of SOA-based links they could use to quickly integrate their inventory data with Arrow's systems.

"The way I see breakaway IT leadership is driving innovation and competitive capability sets that go beyond the traditional internal process re-engineering and process automation," Melvin says. What places IT at the forefront, he says, "is how we work with and deliver services to customers."

It's inevitable that the factors guiding breakaway IT leadership will change as business, political and economic conditions shift. What will likely remain stable are the underlying traits in the leaders themselves.

"Great IT leaders have always sought to understand the technical tools available, the business needs and opportunities of an organization, the culture of the organization, and how to best connect these different facets for the benefit of everyone involved," says Paul Glen, an IT management expert and a Computerworld columnist.

"Great leadership is not just inspirational; it is also pragmatic," he adds. "Keeping people engaged and excited while dealing with very real constraints will likely be the challenge of the next few years."

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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