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CIO Of Amtrak
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: I'm most proud of being able to recruit and develop good people. I have seven direct reports, five of which have come into the company during my tenure. When it's time for me to leave Amtrak, I hope that one of these people will be able to take my place. Investing in the development of high-potential people is the single most important thing we can do for the long-term good of our organizations.
Decision I wish I could do over: When I was CIO of Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, the CIOs of the major Viacom business units launched a company-wide infrastructure outsourcing initiative that ultimately failed, primarily because the result/reward structure was overly unbalanced in Viacom's favor, as we didn't construct a true win-win situation for both parties. One lesson I learned was that there has to be sufficient benefit for both parties to make it truly successful. I also learned that outsourcing is simply another way of many to accomplish your business objectives and that it isn't a general solution to be applied to all problems.
Advice for future CIOs: Know the business and be a true business partner. Our best measure of success as IT practitioners is the success of the business; we should be judged by the extent of our contribution to make that success happen. It's also critical to take responsibility for your own personal development along with that of your key people, and professional organizations can provide that opportunity along with the opportunity to network with other IT professionals. It's important to give back to the IT profession at this point in my career, and getting involved with professional organizations like the Society for Information Management is among the best ways to give back.
The next big thing for my industry will be ... high-speed rail passenger corridors throughout the country as a key component of a national transportation policy and plan. The time has come for passenger rail to assume a greater role in our country's transportation future, and Amtrak is poised to be a key part of that. We're currently putting in place the IT infrastructure and systems to support that vision.
IT budget: Operating $160 million; capital $114 million
Size of IT team: 300+ employees, and selected outsourced services
Top initiatives: Enterprise-wide SAP implementation, e-ticketing, and a train communications project
How I measure IT effectiveness: Contribution to achievement of business objectives, service-level agreements, and budgets. As I said earlier, it's all about the business, and our success as IT practitioners is measured only by the success of our business. There's no truer dashboard of metrics than to be measured through our internal business partners.
Colleges/degrees: Bachelor of science from The Citadel; MBA from American University
Leisure activities: Bicycling and exercise in general, reading, relaxing with family
Best book read recently: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, who has an interesting take on the means to success
Last vacation: Southern California, where we have a home and intend to return when I retire
If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... more relaxed