Interview with Kreig Ecklund

Title: CIO

Employer: Mercy Ships (, a charity that operates a fleet of floating hospitals that serve people in developing nations around the world.

Background: Ecklund, 34, joined Mercy Ships in 1998 as an onboard network and systems administrator. Three years later, he was promoted to CIO. Contact information:

IT staff: 35 people serve onboard the ships, in offices around the world and at the international operations centre in Garden Valley, Tex.

Toughest challenge: Recruiting skilled professionals for jobs with no official salary. Mercy Ships has a fund-raising program in which IT workers, including Ecklund, ask friends, former employers, church groups and others for financial contributions that can be earmarked to pay their salaries.

We caught up with Ecklund at the CIO Executive Summit in Houston on March 24.

CW: Tell me about the people on your IT staff.

KE: We get people in what I call the “success to significance” category. They want to leave their mark on the world. These are people who are generally self-supporting, often early retirees. We also find there are a lot of younger people who want to have an impact on the world. Some of these people come for a year. We have one Canadian whose employer allows him to work remotely as a systems administrator. He works for his employer 30 hours a week, and he works for us 30 hours a week.

CW: What IT positions do you have open?

KE: We’re looking for Java developers, systems analysts and database administrators.

CW: Are there career benefits you can offer in lieu of a salary?

KE: For young people, it’s an opportunity to build a r