CIOs Behaving Badly in So Many Ways

Norm Pattis is a brilliant defense attorney whose opinion I respect immensely. He doesn’t usually comment on CIOs but couldn’t resist sharing the tale of one on his Facebook page recently. That CIO was behaving badly and it got me thinking about other CIOs who have behaved badly either professionally or personally.

So, in the midst of yet another snow storm on the East Coast, I present to you the CIOs Behaving Badly hall of fame. There’s no building yet but one can dream in between shoveling sidewalks for the 42nd time in 13 days.

The case Pattis was referring to involved Jamie Miller, senior vice president and chief information officer, of General Electric. According to her official GE bio, “she is driving GE’s global Information Technology strategy, services and operations, and aggressively delivering innovative and transformational solutions for GE, its customers and employees.”

Well, that drive makes her too busy to serve jury duty. According to the CT Post, she told a Connecticut judge she had to be excused from a murder/kidnapping trial because the White House might need her at any minute. She apparently is single handedly fighting off the “eight million scans a day from terrorists looking for vulnerability in their computer system.” That’s in spite of supervising a staff of 11,000.

Originally the judge said nope. She had to serve. But then Miller had to go to Detroit for an important meeting. So, she was excused. She’s nominated for putting her career before her good citizen responsibilities. And never having heard of GoToMeeting.com.

David Tresch is another nominee. He was CIO of a law firm who was convicted of embezzling $4.8 million from the firm. Basically he cooked up a scheme with a former co-worker who’s firm got paid for work it didn’t do in exchange for kickbacks to Tresch.

Why’s this case stand out? Well, there’s the fact that Tresch and his wife have 10 children so he was willing to give up all that. Then, after working out a plea deal, he writes an e-book where he denies responsibility, according to Law360.com. It’s not known if his sentence of 27 months was increased by the book, but it did help him stay out of prison a little bit longer.

Anil Singh, the former senior vice president and CIO of MultiPlan Inc. in New York, is nominated for the CIOs Behaving Badly hall of fame because of his role in a kickback scheme. He pled guilty to the plan where vendors would bill $105 an hour to the health insurance management company. They would pocket $62 an hour and kick back $43 an hour to Singh and a co-conspirator.

As a self-employed person, I’m amazed someone would claim $105 an hour in pay for $62 in actual compensation. They must have had a heck of an accountant not to come out in the red at tax time.

But I digress. Singh earns his spot on our wall of shame because he was defrauding the health insurance industry. C’mon, aren’t health insurance costs bad enough without people ripping us off even more?

The final spot on our CIOs behaving badly wall goes to an academic. Andrew Wasser is a veteran financial services CIO and director of Carnegie Mellon University’s CIO Institute. In an interview with CIO.com (via TechInsurgent.com) he painted Indian programmers with a broad brush when he said they don’t want to be programmers but only do so because their parents told them to be. He made it seem as if a generation of Indians wanted to be artists or poets but were instead steered into computer technology.

“We see continued frustration from clients that these people are really good order takers, but they are not problem solvers. They are smart — no question — but they are not the strategic partners they had hoped they would be,” he said.

Then to make matters worse, Wasser went on to say engineers are basically weak communicators to begin with who aren’t always good at speaking the language of their clients because they don’t understand business drivers. Add to that, “Whether you are in China or Mexico or India, the [English] speaking and listening and writing skills aren’t always great to begin with.”

Our inaugural class is pretty strong. We will keep an eye open for future nominees.

 

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.