As the CIO role becomes a stepping-stone to other executive positions, more CIOs will find themselves reporting to bosses who’ve run IT at least once in their career.
This can be a dream or a nightmare, according to two CIOs currently in this position.
Raymond Dury, who joined Fifth Third Bancorp as its CIO in November 2006, reports to the COO, Greg Carmichael. Carmichael held Dury’s post before being promoted to COO last July. Dury says one of the benefits of reporting to Carmichael is that they have more productive discussions because they don’t have to focus so much on technology. Because Carmichael knows IT, the two can instead strategize and brainstorm ways to fulfill business requests more quickly and efficiently.
The challenge for Dury: He can’t hide anything. If a project milestone is missed or a system doesn’t work as expected, Carmichael will know. Dury points out that this is not a bad thing. It just means that he has to play at the top of his game. “In order for me to excel, I have to be better than normal because he can differentiate average from great delivery,” says Dury.
Richard Escue faces a slightly different situation at RehabCare Group. The CIO reports to the CFO, Jay Shreiner, who, while a finance guy at heart, once served as Kellogg’s CIO. Escue, who joined RehabCare in October 2006, says Schreiner’s CIO experience makes the oft-stressful CIO-CFO reporting relationship easier.
“Because he’s been in the shoes of an IT leader, he knows we have lots of customers to serve and that we have to serve the operations side first and foremost, not the finance back office,” says Escue.
Escue adds that when he interviewed for the job, he looked for signs that might indicate whether Shreiner was a micromanager.
“To be a CIO working for someone who used to be a CIO and who by their nature is a micromanager would be terrible,” he says. But Escue says his experience has been “nothing but positive.”