2016 Premier 100 Technology Leaders

Meet the 2016 Premier 100

The annual Computerworld Premier 100 awards shine a spotlight on individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through technology.

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This year’s honorees represent more than 20 industries and organizations of all sizes, so you’re sure to find a project that piques your interest. Many of these technology executives -- some just starting out, and others well along in their careers -- also identify the title they aspire to someday. Their ideas could help you map out your own IT trajectory.

Deborah Blyth

Deborah Blyth

Title
Chief information security officer

Employer
Governor’s Office of IT, State of Colorado

Location
Denver

Career highlight:
I got into security accidentally. I was a Unix system administrator, and responsibility for the firewalls was delegated to my group. Understanding these to be critical security devices, I bought and read every book my local bookstore had on firewalls. A passion for security was ignited, shaping the evolution of my career.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
The Internet of Things is making our lives more efficient, easier and more interesting. However, oversight is needed to ensure that personal privacy isn’t sacrificed, and that security vulnerabilities aren’t created. As we implement IoT-enabled technology, our security team will be engaged to ensure security and privacy considerations are included.

Coolest project:
I’m very excited about an innovative project to create a Colorado resident connectivity portal. This will enable residents to interact with state government in easier and more efficient ways than they’ve previously experienced. My focus is ensuring security is built in from the beginning and that our residents’ data remains protected.

Anthony D. Bolton

Anthony D. Bolton

Title
CIO, Global Telecommunications

Employer
General Motors

Location
Dublin

Career highlight:
After 22 years of working for two of the world’s largest IT technology and service companies (Dell and HP), I never foresaw the fact that my biggest career achievements would have been realized in an automotive company. Being on the customer side of IT services has been very rewarding.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
The next technology boom will be in the Internet of Things, one of the biggest revolutions within IT history. The IoT is a sleeping giant, but it holds the key to realizing the potential of the Internet, computing, big data and -- coming next -- mainstream A.I.

Your vendor management strategy:
The most striking has been to introduce a “shared risk” principle into my vendor relationships. I seek partners more than I seek vendors. Having shared risk in outcomes leads to great success for both parties.

Fastest-ROI project:
The restructuring of our Cisco purchasing contract and relationship. I led the negotiation of what was Cisco’s first enterprise license agreement-based deal, effectively separating the cost of software from our hardware investments.

Read Bolton’s full profile.

Carol L. Borowski

Carol L. Borowski

Title
Senior vice president, Strategic Sourcing & Testing COE

Employer
Citizens Bank

Location
Cranston, R.I.

Career highlight:
The first time I went to India and China for a sourcing discussion with several executive leaders to meet five strategic vendor partners. The ability to absorb the culture, understand the vision of these companies, and meet business and government leaders gave me a new appreciation for the talent around the world that could help our company succeed.

What’s the most important task you’ve delegated?
Operational accountability for managing our relationships with strategic sourcing partners. Assigning that job to two of my direct reports allowed me to focus on innovation and the strategic view of our relationships, and on planning our strategic sourcing road map for the next five years.

Fastest-ROI project:
Our Alliance Program was an initiative to drive a sourcing strategy in our application portfolio. We implemented a new sourcing model, which has driven millions of dollars in annual savings for application support, maintenance, development and testing.

Read Borowski’s full profile.

David A. Bray

David A. Bray

Title
Senior executive and CIO

Employer
Federal Communications Commission

Location
Washington

Career highlights:
Worked on classified research with satellites at age 17. Later led a bioterrorism preparedness and response program that developed a technology response to 9/11 and anthrax, West Nile virus, SARS, monkeypox and other international outbreaks. Deployed to Afghanistan to help “think differently” on humanitarian and military efforts in 2009. Led a national commission reviewing the R&D efforts of the U.S. intelligence community in 2012.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
Folks know they can bring data and make creative idea pitches to me, and if their plan is sound, I’ll invest in them. As a C-suite leader, I ask for three reasons why we should do something, as well as three reason why we shouldn’t -- and three ways to mitigate or overcome those three reasons we shouldn’t. My office door is always open. It’s my job to be both “digital diplomat” and “human flak jacket” on behalf of the team.

Bill Burns

Bill Burns

Title
Vice president and chief information security officer

Employer
Informatica

Location
Redwood City, Calif.

New titles in your IT organization:
Information security intern, security automation engineer

Skills you will hire for this year:
Application security; we will both hire and train -- including recruiting and coaching college interns.

Your vendor management strategy:
We scan and test partners’ sites for vulnerabilities that might put our data at risk.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
First, we look at the highest residual risk to the business and include areas where the risk contained by an existing process is inefficient or has ineffective controls in place. We reach out to our venture capital and startup networks, compare notes on what’s available, then decide whether to test alternatives, build something internally or use compensating controls while we wait for the vendors to catch up to market demand.

Title you aspire to:
CISO (retired)

Aretha A. Calloway

Aretha A. Calloway

Title
Corporate solutions manager

Employer
Pepco Holdings Inc.

Location
Washington

Coolest project:
Mobile technology has improved productivity in the field. Leaders can now perform basic administrative functions on job sites instead of traveling to the office. This allows them to focus more on their work and meeting deadlines rather than on administrative tasks, which has led to added customer value.

Skills you will hire for this year:
We will retrain current employees and augment our staff with contract resources.

Fastest-ROI project:
We focused initially on pilots based on user-identified opportunities. As these opportunities grew in number, we leveraged the process owners to advance mobile application projects through the technology steering team.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
Based on user-identified needs. We conduct a study using Gartner research, technical evaluations and test pilots.

How do you find time to innovate?
My team is passionate about new technology, and we make it a priority to stay current in this transformational and evolving time in the electric utility industry.

Read Calloway’s full profile.

Dan Carney

Dan Carney

Title
Vice president of operations

Employer
Limelight Networks Inc.

Location
Burlington, Mass.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
The Internet of Things is fascinating because intelligent devices have the potential to generate big data and ultimately drive efficiency in nearly every industry. We support IoT for our customers and have plans to deploy intelligent devices or agents across our network for the purpose of statistical analysis and, ultimately, efficiency gains.

Coolest project:
We are harnessing new software innovations to dramatically increase server efficiency and allow us to consolidate our server footprint to reduce costs and energy use. In one of our centers, we are now using half the space and get the same output. We are implementing these improvements across our network.

How are you using reverse-mentoring to learn from younger generations?
We have a “check your ego at the door” mentality that everyone on my team, including myself, brings to meetings. People at all levels actively engage in technical conversations by sharing ideas and asking questions.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
There is a need for more advances in wireless bandwidth. There is a promise of being able to connect anywhere at any time, yet the mobile Internet still isn’t as reliable as it should be.

Michael Carraway

Michael Carraway

Title
Vice president, IT

Employer
Red Hat Inc.

Location
Raleigh, N.C.

Career highlight:
Early on in my career, I left what was viewed as a successful team only to have it fail within a few months of my departure. This taught me a valuable lesson ­­-- projects come and go, technology will be replaced -- but what we do to create high-performing teams and capable individuals will endure.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
Linux containers. I believe they will be a game-changer in addressing major pain points for our developers, such as environment coordination, release management and deployment flexibility.

Coolest project:
It involves providing visualized analytics to front-line managers. The project pulls together a number of interesting technical elements, such as hybrid computing, visualization tools and open source.

A recent innovative staff idea:
An open-source project that provides a flexible abstraction layer on top of our SOA services. This enables us to make changes more rapidly and deploy services in a hybrid cloud model.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
I spend over 50% of my time on people issues, including meeting individually with as many people on my team as the schedule will allow. We declare project discussions off­-limits for these meetings and send time on career development, answering questions and getting feedback on what we could do better as an organization.

Jesse Carrillo

Jesse Carrillo

Title
Senior vice president and CIO

Employer
Hines

Location
Houston

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
Drones. I can see multiple uses within the real estate industry, and some of our sites have started to use them for aerial photography on development/construction projects. I can also see their potential for exterior building inspection and security, especially around campuses.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
3D printing. I saw a great deal of promise within our real estate industry when the technology was announced, but the capabilities and price points haven’t made it easy to introduce it into our environment. I still think we will see these printers more widely deployed within organizations, but not as fast as I had hoped.

Christopher R. Caruso

Christopher R. Caruso

Title
Vice president, IT

Employer
PPG Industries

Location
Pittsburgh

A recent innovative staff idea:
We are exploring methods for developing 3D color visualization tools. This capability will not only enable a customer to visualize a paint color in a room setting -- it will also automatically calculate the precise amount of paint required for the project.

New titles in your IT organization:
We are in the process of developing new career tracks for digital marketing professionals (specialist, analyst and consultants); digital design specialists (visual designer, UI/UX designer and digital creative manager); IT security professionals and business intelligence experts.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We have an internal process for identifying emerging technologies and a method to determine the compatibility with other components of our standard technologies. In addition, we often conduct emerging technology reviews with our business partners to explain the technology, its potential use and any known application by our competitors.

How do you find time to innovate?
Much of that time comes during off-hours. In our business, we can identify opportunities to innovate while visiting our company-owned stores and large retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe’s where our products are sold.

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