Hertz CIO Joe Eckroth Seeks IT Professionals Who Remain Positive Despite Adversity

In this latest Hiring Manager interview, Joe Eckroth, the CIO and senior vice president of customer care for Hertz, shares his interview techniques and criteria for hiring decisions.

By Amanda K. Brady
Fri, May 15, 2009

CIO — You've probably heard of Joe Eckroth. He's held some high-profile CIO positions over the past 15 years. Known as a turnaround CIO, Eckroth came of age as leader inside Jack Welch's GE, having served as CIO of GE Medical Systems and GE Industrial Systems.

When Mattel's business was tanking in 1999 and 2000, the toy company recruited Eckroth from GE to tighten up its IT department and infrastructure. From Mattel, Eckroth moved to New Century Financial Corp. in July 2005, where he was tasked with shoring up the company's systems. But no amount of IT management savvy could have pulled the subprime mortgage lender out of its mess; New Century declared bankruptcy in April 2007. Three months later, Eckroth skipped off to his next assignment, Hertz.

Like the previous companies Eckroth worked for, Hertz hired him to restructure its IT department to make it more efficient and customer-focused. And restructure he has. Since Eckroth joined the car rental company in June 2007 as its CIO (and now also senior vice president of global customer care), the IT department has gone from 1,100 employees to 500. He outsourced infrastructure management and application development maintenance to focus the core IT team on technology innovation.

Needless to say, Eckroth has introduced a tremendous amount of change inside Hertz, so it's no surprise that when he's looking to fill positions in his IT department, he, like many CIOs, looks for candidates who can adapt. He also seeks IT professionals with global experience, who are effective communicators, who know how to build support for global technology initiatives, and who remain positive in the face of adversity. In short, Eckroth looks for people who are a lot like himself.

Eckroth credits his management style to the mentoring he received earlier in his career, when he was in mid-management.

"My mentors took the time late at night, in the office to talk to me casually about fun stuff, private stuff, business stuff," says Eckroth. "They got to know me, and they gave me great advice about work, work-life balance and career change. What they did for me was powerful. That mentoring that has been instrumental in forming my leadership style."

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