The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Director of Information Technology
Cincinnati Sub-Zero Products
How does your vision of information technology (IT) help your company accomplish its mission statement?
Our mission is “to deliver world class temperature management solutions to our customer right the first time.” The phrase “right the first time” signifies the quality of work we strive to achieve. The IT department is always learning newer, better and faster ways to get things done with the use of the latest technologies. We have a set training budget each year to continue education and development of our IT team.
“Our vision is to create an environment that allows our team to successfully grow while developing solutions to meet and/or exceed all our customer’s needs.” When we say, “allows our team to successfully grow” as individuals and as a team,” we mean it. We accomplish this with a theme each year for our IT department to focus on and an area to develop. In 2013 we focused on the “soft skills” of the IT team – professionalism, customer service and attitude. In 2014, we emphasized “educate and empower”; learning equals change, personal accountability, staff empowered to take on new tasks and end-users empowered to take on new tasks. In 2015 it’s “LEAD,” which is an acrostic for “Listen, Empathize, Assist and Accomplish, and Do it Again.” All of this is intended to develop the IT team and the end-users in order to keep in step with Cincinnati Sub-Zero’s mission/vision. It’s my job as the IT director to mentor and develop my staff toward this goal.
How do you see your role with other business role leaders in your company?
My role in the organization from an IT perspective is to ensure no one has to worry about IT issues, infrastructure, reliability, etc. We maintain 99.9% uptime on all systems. I see my role with other managers as an encourager, to share information and technology for their benefit. I’m a promoter and evangelist for new technologies when they fit the overall strategy of our organization. I do not believe in the use of technology for technology’s sake. I believe technology has its place in business when selected and applied correctly.
How do you see your department's role in response to business leadership requirements?
It’s an interesting question. If an issue arises with technology, we are seen as the heroes who can save the day. When all is going well, we are seen as folks that don’t have much to do. It’s really my job to promote the IT team to the rest of the leadership. It’s when we are doing our job the best – keeping up with maintenance, monitoring the infrastructure and maintaining the equipment – that we are seen the least by others. It’s because of all the “unknown” work we do that we have such a high system uptime, and no need to save the day. It’s a very unique part of being in IT.
How do you direct relationships with business leaders away from being simply transactional?
It’s about the relationship first. I’ve built a rapport with the other leadership team members. I’ve spent time getting to know them and listening to their needs. I’m called into many meetings to observe and give my opinion on possible solutions. It should be relationship first, transaction second. It would be easy in my position to simply have them ask for something and provide it. A better way to operate is to understand them, their needs and their motivation for asking for a particular tool, and direct them to the best solution.