Role reversals

Several companies have recently put their finance executives in charge of IT. Waste Connections Inc. is just one of them. Last April, the Folsom, Calif.-based disposal company named its Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer Michael Foos as its first-ever CIO. Other companies in which the bean counters have recently taken over IT responsibilities include Central Bancorp, Harmon Auto Glass and Somnus Medical Technologies.

Of course, this executive role-sharing is a two-way street — CIOs have become CFOs as well. Ulf Nilsson served as CIO of Volvo Truck in 1996 before becoming the company’s CFO a year later. James Yost was first a CIO at Ford before he was named executive director of finance. More recently, Thomas Fanning was the CIO of the Southern Co. before he took over the CFO and treasurer positions with the energy company last March.

Even when they’re not directly in charge of IT, CFOs are increasingly in charge of CIOs. In the April 1, 2003, State of the CIO issue, CIO found that twice as many CIOs report to the finance chief this year as compared with last year. No one knows that better than Mostafa Mehrabani, the former CIO of defense company TRW, who joined McGraw-Hill last March as executive vice president of information management and CIO. He now reports to the US$4.8 billion publisher’s executive vice president and CFO, Robert J. Bahash.

Other CIOs such as Robert Slotnick and Rick Schach are happy to take on additional responsibilities beyond IT and finance to bring additional value to their positions. Slotnick, who was promoted to senior vice president and CIO of Performance Food Group last May, was also put in charge of constructing new facilities for the private-label food distributor. That same month, Schach, vice president and CIO of utility company Vectren, added the title vice president of energy delivery to his business card.