Andre Mendes' Journey From CIO to COO

By Peter High  |  Posted 09-25-2014 Print Email

Thanks in part to approaching his CIO role as a business-minded executive, Andre Mendes has been promoted to a COO-like position at the Broadcasting Board Of Governors.

andre mendes

CIO Insight: What insights do you have for others who might wish to follow in your footsteps and move from CIO to your COO-like role?

Learn your business, learn your industry, learn related industries, while simultaneously unlearning some of the more black-and-white aspects of the IT world. Any ambiguity that grew as you made your way to the CIO role absolutely explodes once you make it into the COO or CEO role. If you think you have politics now, wait until you get to that corner office (which, by the way, I don't have). In an effort to modernize the agency and save the taxpayers money, I introduced an open space initiative and, as part of that, I was the first one to move from my 400-square-foot office into a 70-square-foot workstation.

CIO Insight: You were once the global CIO and senior vice president of strategic planning at the Special Olympics. What was the logic of having the CIO lead all of the organization's strategic planning?

Technology is the nervous system of most organizations. As businesses drive to more internal and external engagement and control over their operations and expenses, technology must be one of the main drivers of strategy. It is a logical arrangement for a lot of organizations, but especially for nonprofits where the ability to reach donors and beneficiaries becomes paramount.

CIO Insight: Do you think more examples of this combination will emerge?

I believe the evolution of the CIO role will lead to the creation of a myriad of hybrid roles throughout organizations. Again, technology is so relevant that its combination with one or more senior management goals should feel very comfortable. It has always been true in technology startups, and it makes sense as long as the CIO clearly embraces the business nature of the new position. It is the logical corollary of the old concepts of alignment with the business. Once technology becomes the business, or the enabler of it, then alignment is no longer optional but rather a built-in requirement.

About the Author

Peter High is the president of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, and the moderator of the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. Follow him on Twitter @WorldClassIT. High's new book Implementing World Class IT Strategy (Wiley Press) will be published in September. He will provide a 30-minute lecture via videoconference to any company that purchases 50 or more copies of the book.

To read his previous CIO Insight article, "CIOs Should Be Their Company's First Customers," click here.


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