The CIO community lost a leader, a mentor and an all-around good guy recently when Merv Tarde, CIO of Dallas-based Interstate Batteries, lost his battle with cancer. I first met Merv in February 2009 when I was just getting started as CIO's publisher.
We were hosting our first CIO Perspectives Dallas event, and Merv was one of our CIO advisers. At each of our regional conferences, we hold a private dinner with about a dozen CIO speakers and guests. My job was to moderate the table discussion and to make sure that everyone had a good experience.
This particular dinner was my maiden voyage as a moderator, and I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I was more than a little intimidated about what to say to a table full of accomplished CIOs. What if an awkward silence fell and no one said anything? Well, Merv wasn't the most boisterous guy at the table that night, but he had an uncanny ability for chiming in at just the right moment to keep the conversational ball moving. He was the perfect wingman.
The next time I encountered Merv was a few years later at our CIO 100 Symposium event. One of my assignments at the event--our biggest national conference of the year--was to conduct some 45-minute video interviews with selected CIOs. It was another first for me, conducting on-camera interviews, and Merv stepped up to be my wingman once again.
During that interview, I learned how deeply Merv cared about his company, his co-workers and especially his IT team. He was so proud of the supportive, highly engaged culture at Interstate Batteries, a billion-dollar, privately-held national supplier. With his additional responsibilities for facilities and real estate as well as IT, he was also what we call a "CIO+1."
"For me, passion invigorates every endeavor. A simple coding project can become a far-reaching solution for the entire system--just by adding passion," Merv wrote in the career summary on his LinkedIn profile page. "I see passion everywhere, and I love to see team members living out their passion."
Living out his passion was something Merv did exceedingly well, and his generosity of spirit is something I'll never forget. The CIO community will miss you, my friend. We are better for having known you.