People Person

People Person

How do you get things done? It starts with your people. You need to have people in place who will execute. That is more important than where they went to school or what their technical expertise is.

I don't want a CIO who's ahead of his time—searching for what is going to be the next big thing—because he's too expensive. And I don't want a CIO who's behind the times, because he's also too expensive. So I've got to find a guy who is carefully calibrated and practical, and I search for that all the time. I don't want to be catching up all the time, and I don't want to be a pioneer. So we try to calibrate that performance within that envelope.

Our CIO spends a lot of time on people. I hold him responsible for all the top IT positions around the company. They don't get hired unless he participates. So he knows a lot about the people, and therefore he develops a good understanding of what their capabilities are. So if someone comes in and says, "I want to put an ERP system in," he has some sense whether the guy has the capability, and the staff, to be able to do that.

This is also why you want to promote from within. I'd rather hire the person who has all the credentials early on and have him tested. I want to see him perform before I promote him. I don't care how good you are in terms of evaluating people—and we work hard at that—if you hire a lot of people from the outside, you'll have a lower batting average than if you promote from within.

I will tell you that if we have to go outside, we check the person's track record for execution very carefully. For a senior hire like a CIO, I myself will check references. You have to know if someone can get the work done. I don't care if they have elite educations. I mean, that's helpful, but I don't care if they don't. And I don't care if they've had experience with more than one company. What I really want to know is, can they perform?

This article was originally published on 06-17-2002
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