Premier 100: profiles in IT leadership

When you're managing and recommending changes, inspiring staff, helping set technology strategies for your company and trying to foster better communication among business executives, you're a leader. And today, IT can never have a shortage of leaders.


What's your management style? Are you a Coach, Visionary,Strategist, Innovator or Diplomat?

Take a quick, interactive quiz to find out.

Up-to-date information on the Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders conference

Executive Suite members receive a 50% discount off the full conference fee.

Previous Premier 100 honorees get the entire fee waived.


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Meet some of the men and women named by Computerworld as its Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2002. Computerworld will honor these and the rest of the 100 leaders at its annual Premier 100 IT Leaders Conference, scheduled for March 3-5 at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, Calif. The conference will include presentations and panel discussions on many of today's hottest IT topics.

And if you're attending, you can rub elbows with more than 50 fellow Executive Suite members.

Paul Stevens
Global Head of Technology
Barclays Global Investors
San Francisco

Managing Resistance to Change: Paul Stevens believes that people resist change because it invariably seems to mean they will lose power: their authority might be compromised. He deals with it by being very clear about what he's trying to achieve and communicating directly to those impacted, especially those whom he's relying on to make the change happen. He also seeks the opinions of those affected, making it clear that whether or not their views prevail, they will get a fair hearing.

What makes an exceptional leader? "Clarity. Commitment. Firmness. Fairness. Vision. Decisiveness. Honesty. Drive. The ability to take the rough with the smooth. Support from others. A sense of humor."

Bob Palmer
AVP, E-commerce Technology
Lenox, Inc.
Langhorne, PA

Please describe your riskiest business decision: When faced with the Y2k problem four years ago, Bob Palmer weaned the company away from green-bar paper reports and dumb-terminal displays and convinced them to use more modern technology. He made the decision to change platforms to SUN/Oracle, build a data warehouse, and enable information delivery via an intranet.

This was pretty risky, both from the standpoint of the company's conservative culture and from a technical perspective. Large data warehouses on the Web were not done often, and there were questions as to whether the Web could deliver large amounts of data in real time. In addition, his staff didn't have the technical skills to pull it off then. But he and his staff worked through these issues, and the hugely successful system has transformed his company's IT philosophy and direction.

What makes an exceptional leader? "Treating people as you want to be treated, leading by example, allowing others to shine and develop their skills and confidence, being honest, and having integrity..."

M. Lewis Temares
Vice President/CIO and Dean of Engineering
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL

Managing Resistance to Change: In 1999, IT approved a new Web development application to standardize the platform and design of all the university's Web sites, many of which had grown stale. To overcome resistance, M. Lewis Temares established a Web committee with representatives from each school and business unit. Chaired by an executive director from IT, the group created policies and procedures for Web deployment. Instead of IT making demands, a committee of peers was making a collective decision. Through peer support, in conjunction with IT training and support, the resistance was overcome.

What makes an exceptional leader? "An exceptional leader is only as good as the people he or she hires. Every employee who works for me can do his or her job better than I could."

Thomas Murphy
Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.
Miami, Fla.

Managing Resistance to Change: While implementing electronic mail to the ships for the first time, Thomas Murphy ran into resistance from the ships' captains, who wanted to see every message going on and off the ship. With more than 100 e-mail addresses on each ship, it was suggested that the volume might be too heavy to adhere to this maritime tradition. But the captains insisted, so the IT department turned on e-mail with all the addresses pointed at the captains. Needless to say, within a week, they decided that maybe it was OK to try things "a new way." Sometimes you have to let people see things clearly by experiencing the pain of not changing.

Inspiring Leadership: "To me, big, individual acts of inspiration are not nearly as important as small acts of inspiration on a daily basis ... The inspiration that sticks is that which is felt and observed many times throughout the workday."

Susan Sumner
Executive Director, Information Technology
ALZA Corp.
Mountain View, Calif.

Managing Resistance to Change: When Susan Sumner's company was recently acquired by a much larger firm, her staff suffered from all the anxiety and resistance that comes with such a merger. To keep her team productive while communicating as many answers as she could, she pulled the entire group together for a quick assessment of change readiness and a facilitated session on coping with change.

She made everyone understand that change, like grief, has various stages, and that each person will go through each stage at varying degrees and at different times. By getting everyone to acknowledge where they were in the change process, she helped them deal with their feelings and concerns.

What makes an exceptional leader? An exceptional leader must have three qualities: intelligence, courage and passion. Without all three, you are not a leader.

Mahvash Yazdi
Senior vice president and CIO
Edison International and Southern California Edison Rosemead, Calif.

Most recent successful project: While the California energy crisis nearly crippled Edison from a financial perspective, Yazdi thinks it elevated IT functionality to a critical level because her department responded in record time to legislative and regulatory mandates, as well as to radical cost-cutting.

Initiating a round-the-clock process, her team implemented a multitiered, conservation-crediting structure for customer bills. Additional crediting features allowed money collected by Southern California Edison to be funneled to the California Department of Water Resources, a new power-purchasing entity. Yazdi's team also leveraged the Internet to provide advance warning to customers of rolling blackout locations, including maps on a Web site that was able to sustain hundreds of thousands of hits per minute.

"These efforts were critical to provide up-to-the-minute notifications required by the governor, in the light of intense media scrutiny," Yazdi says.

John Mariano
CIO and senior vice president
Academic Management Services Swansea, Mass.

Managing resistance to change: When a business unit was reluctant to use systems-analysis and documentation techniques before starting IT projects, Mariano created documentation templates and policy for the business analysis process to begin. He established a pilot for a critical project, and key members were invited to contribute and see it through to completion. After the project's huge success, Mariano's process has been embraced.

Inspiring others: "Months past, we had a crisis that required extensive time commitments on the part of our IT staff. By stepping in, becoming directly involved, giving continual communication to the business community, and staying nights and weekends, an example was set for the team. Those actions inspired some within IT to take more initiative and communicate more directly and effectively to our business community. The users are now an approachable group in a crisis," Mariano said.

Kirk Swilley
City of Wichita; Wichita, Kan

Managing resistance to change: Favoring a move to an enterprise resource planning system, he had to convince the executive leadership that there was a need for it. He did this by holding large concept meetings about how the city operated and how it could operate in the future. When top executives realized a solution was needed, he started talking costs and return on investment.

A recent successful project: "Since my arrival at the city, I have been able to convince several departments that had their own IT systems and organizations to fold their operations and personnel into mine. I am particularly pleased with this achievement not because of the result, but because it was necessary for me to develop a partnership with the leaders of these individual departments."

Ron Fijalkowski
Strategic Distribution Inc. Feasterville,Pa.

Managing resistance to change: Recently, he shaped the evolution of his company from a mainframe-centric legacy environment to Web-based transaction processes. He sold the change by researching and establishing a direction that was both affordable and scaled for the enterprise. Then he provided focused educational opportunities so that the organization's existing IT professionals were able to embrace the change, rather than be threatened by it.

Outside of technology, what new learning experiences have you undertaken? "Because of a love of baseball, I decided to become a certified umpire. The challenge of controlling many hostile situations, focusing on accuracy and making sure that the participants enjoy playing a game has been incredible and humbling. Yet the change and the challenge have provided an incredible outlet and perspective for my work."

Catherine Kozik
CIO and senior vice president
Tellabs Inc., Naperville, Ill.

Managing resistance to change: Kozik recently instituted a formal IT governance process to ensure that company executives choose IT projects according to which ones deliver the greatest business value. In addition, business unit heads are now accountable for identifying and measuring that value. Resistance to change was overcome when she persuaded executives to focus on what the company was trying to achieve and getting them to step back from their particular needs and look at the company's overall needs.

On being an inspiration to others during a recent downsizing and the continued downturn in the economy: "I have focused on inspiring people throughout the company to have faith and to deal with the situation with an open mind and open heart. I have reached out to people both within and external to my organization to make sure that they heard facts, not rumors, and that they had an opportunity to be listened to, rather than just talked to."

Anthony O'Krongly
Vice president of IT
Galactic Ltd., Arlington, Texas

Managing resistance to change: When Okrongly replaced his company's technical-support tracking system and changed the policies and procedures associated with the help desk, resistance was strong because workers feared the changes would generate more paperwork. By persuading team members to follow the plan through very consistent, goal-oriented pressure, they realized the changes were necessary. Once the new policies were followed, errors were avoided, and call volume dropped.

On what makes an exceptional leader: "Vision and communication are the core elements of a leader. There are other traits that leaders have, but they are generally management traits and not truly leadership traits. At the root, no one can lead without vision, and no one can lead without communicating that vision to others."


Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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