The Right Path to Becoming a Female CIO

Interviews with Kim Hammonds, CIO and Co-Head of Technology and Operations for Deutsche Bank, and Kim Stevenson, CIO of Intel, show the paths they took to becoming a chief information officer as well as offering advice for others wanting to follow in their footsteps.

As part of his ongoing CIO’s First 100 Days series, Peter High interviewed Hammonds and Stevenson for Forbes.com. Among others he has interviewed are the CIOs of Caterpillar, Time Warner, Johnson & Johnson, and J. Crew.

One of the right moves Hammond made was getting an undergraduate engineering degree and a graduate MBA, according to her interview. High, president of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm, calls it “a killer combination” that have served Hammond well “through the variety of roles she has had in companies as diverse as Ford, Dell, and Boeing.”

Stevenson, the CIO at Intel, like Hammond, also has an MBA. Stevenson said in her interview that she wants to heighten the business value of the IT said of Intel. “I observed that the business units often called upon IT too late to be useful. This spoke volumes about the perceived value of bringing IT into the early conversations about plans and needs,” she says. “The more value we delivered as an IT department, the more inclined my colleagues outside of IT have been to engage us.  This has been a powerful paradigm shift.”

Hammond got into engineering as an undergrad at Michigan, an area not typically populated by her gender, because of inspiration from a professor. “Engineering taught me how to problem solve and think systematically – whether you’re a mechanical or computer science engineer, you’ll always be working with different technologies. The key is to be open to learning and studying every day. In IT and in product engineering, you have to stay up to date with the evolving technologies to understand how they can be applied to improve your business,” she says.

It’s a point often raised but a key observation Hammond makes is a CIO can’t run IT as a technology center. “Rather, she has always run IT as a business discipline, making the transition to the broader set of responsibilities that she currently has more logical for her to entertain,” High writes.

Hammond shared her thoughts on the importance of business training for CIOs. “Earlier in my career, I had the good fortune to work in broad cross-business roles during my 16 years at the Ford Motor Company – in marketing, sales, manufacturing, product engineering – which taught me to be more business-minded. I later studied product engineering to understand how to apply technology to better run and grow the business.

“My background has been a major influence on my management style. It’s very important for IT personnel to work on the business side and vice versa – this sensitivity and understanding really augments your ability to function as a more efficient and productive employee,” she said.

Hammond also took time during the interview to identify upcoming trends that are worth following for CIOs and those who aspire to the position. ” I would say the three big areas are cloud computing, digital technologies and data,” she said, adding that Deutsche Bank’s IT team is exploring hybrid cloud services and software as a service to a greater degree.

Stevenson told the CIO Journal blog at WSJ.com “IT alone can’t transform the company, but it can be a catalyst for change.” She said her role is to provide computers and applications that enable employees to run the business, test new products, and to modernize the company’s IT.

 

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.