Protege Profile: Michael R. Dean

Title: First deputy CIO

Organization: City of Philadelphia

Mentor: Dianah Neff, CIO

When Philadelphia CIO Dianah Neff attends executive council meetings, her first lieutenant, chief IT operations officer and principal protege Michael R. Dean, is seated at the table next to her.

Dean also handles all IT contract negotiations and very often attends key meetings with the mayor and other officials in place of Neff, who travels frequently to promote the city's Wireless Philadelphia project.

What's best about being mentored by Neff, Dean says, is that "she's willing to let me go out and give it a shot. She gives me the opportunity to be successful."

In his former position as head of professional services for a Big Five consulting firm, Dean, a Philadelphia native with a degree in economics, says he spent a lot of time advising companies on how to run their technologies. He chose to move into city government so he could grow beyond an adviser role and into a full-fledged operational role.

The position as first deputy CIO "gave me the personal responsibility to not only come up with an IT vision and strategy, but to actually stick around and see it through," he says.

The two greatest assets Dean says he brings to his job are an understanding of business and an understanding of people -- both of which are abilities he developed under Neff's tutelage.

"Dianah really taught me self-awareness and emotional intelligence," he says. "It's about understanding what you're good at, what your personality really is like and what the situations are where you might not be performing at your best. It's about being able to anticipate and watch your behavior, whether it be in the midst of a critical business decision or a conflict of opinion.

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"I truly think that Dianah is a world-class executive. She listens, she shares, she gives open and honest feedback," Dean adds. These are skills Dean intends to take with him to his next job, which he says will not be in city government.

"I'm going to be running an enterprise in five years," he says. "I hope to have made the transition from government and into general management, maybe as a COO."

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2006 Premier 100 IT Leaders

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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