by Mark Settle

The CIO Questionnaire: Mark Settle, CIO, BMC Software

Jul 08, 2010
CareersIT LeadershipMobile Apps

Business service management software giants BMChave their own complex IT structure, leading it is Mark Settle, the CIO answers our questoinnaire.

Q. Where were you born? A. Rome, New York

Q. How many people work in your IT department? A. 420

Q. What is the size of your annual IT budget? A. Roughly $120m in opex with an additional $10-20m in capital spending every year.

Q. What percentage of annual turnover does IT represent? A. Roughly seven per cent

Q. What is the basic structure of your IT department?

A. Two line organisations devoted to Application Development & Maintenance and Infrastructure & Operations – a fairly classic split.  The line organisations are complemented by a series of staff functions:  Service Management Office, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management Office, Vendor Management Office, Finance and HR.

Q. Who are your key suppliers? A. We have close working relationships with Cisco, Dell, EMC, VMware, NetApp, Microsoft, IBM, Verizon and AT&T.

Q. Who have been the most influential people in your career?  A. Some of my early bosses were great leaders and I learned a lot from them.

Q. Do you believe in mentoring? A. Yes, but when mentoring is performed on a programmatic basis it can sometimes lose its impact.  Informal mentoring works best in my experience.

Q. Which tools or tactics have given you most success in communicating up/down/across? A. An early boss once told me: ‘Don’t tell your customers you are going to do something for them, tell them you are going to do something with them.’ I’ve found that to be very good advice. I also believe in developing personal relationships with other executives. I’ve counseled all of the aspiring CIOs on my team to avoid showing up on an executive’s doorstep for the first time if you have to apologise for something going wrong or asking for money. Better to have developed a personal relationship first before having those inevitable conversations.

Q. What has been your biggest mistake? A. Trusting people.

Q. And your greatest success? A. Trusting people.

Q. How do you keep up to date with the march of technology? A. Through external networking on my part and by sending members of my team to different types of industry events to serve as my personal ‘detectives’.

Q. How do you deal with stress? A. I find that business travel relaxes me and helps me maintain a more strategic perspective on what is happening at work.  If I stay in the office too long I get dragged down by the day-to-day transactional workflow of meetings, PowerPoint, email etc.

Q. What profession would you most/least like to attempt? A. I oscillate between possibly ending up at a university as a visiting professor or managing a band. I’m not cut out for being an elementary school teacher – couldn’t handle the discipline and personal hygiene issues.

Q. Which word or phrase do you most use/overuse? A. I go through phases – I was using ‘granularity’ for a while but am switching over to ‘awesome’ as a way of bugging my kids.

Q. Which business (or other) books have been influential in your career? A. I would recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude [by Gabriel Garcia Marquez] and The Leopard [by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa] to overworked professionals who need to develop a more strategic/less tactical perspective and put some romance back into their lives at the same time.

Q. Do you have a sport you practise or sportsperson/team that you follow? A. I like a lot of sports and follow American football pretty closely, although I wouldn’t say I have a favourite team.

Q. What else do you do outside of work? A. My wife would say nothing because she thinks I work all the time. I’m actually an aficionado of early American history.