When Heller Search is asked to recruit a CIO who reports into finance, we know that a whole segment of the talent pool will pass on the opportunity. Why? That\u2019s what I asked Marc Hamer, CIO of $7 billion packaging manufacturer Sealed Air.\nIn this interview with Hamer, he discusses the importance of reporting structure, the culture he is creating in IT & Digital, and the company\u2019s new digital strategy.\nHow are you defining your chief digital officer title?\nI think of my role as the \u201cCEO of technology.\u201d I am always asking: how can we use technology to transform the company? How can technology help us run more efficiently across all of our functions? How can technology enhance our existing products and services, create new solutions, or even open up whole new markets and delivery channels.\nTechnology is the only function that extends horizontally across all of the vertical P&Ls and has this opportunity. We can impact the top line through growth and the bottom line through efficiencies. My job, whether you call me a CIO or a chief digital officer, is to maximize the value of the usage of technology in achieving Sealed Air\u2019s strategic priorities.\nIn terms of the CDO role, I own \u201cdigital\u201d from R&D to product commercialization, pricing, and after product support. We moved all of the data scientists and two digital labs into my organization. My team needs to understand not only the development of a new product, but the commercialization of it, as well.\nHow is \u201cdigital\u201d changing Sealed Air?\n Sealed Air \nMarc Hamer, CIO and CDO, Sealed Air\n\nAccording to ReFED, a nonprofit committed to reducing U.S. food waste, we have a multi-billion-dollar food waste problem in America. Sealed Air\u2019s digital strategy is to help move us from being an industrial company to being a knowledge and technology company. When my digital teams and I walk into a food manufacturing plant, we see a range of opportunities for products, processes or services that can enable our strategy. For example, by putting sensors in our packaging, we can generate accurate information on food spoilage.\nWe sell a lot of our equipment, and we\u2019d like the equipment to tell us when it needs servicing; we\u2019d also like to be able to provide that service remotely. Also, think about all of the packages that are shipped out every day. If we can build technology that makes packages lighter, our customers will save money on each shipment and their consumers will spend less. Customers will also require fewer truckloads to ship the same products, saving fuel. The possibilities are endless.\nYou interviewed for a CIO job but wound up CIO and CDO. How did that happen?\nDuring my interviews, I spent an hour with our CEO, Jerome Peribere. Our conversation was less about IT and more about how the company operates, develops new solutions, prices products and services and how it goes to market. At the time, Jerome was not certain whether the CIO role would report to him or somewhere else, but he made the decision to hire me, expand the scope of the role, and have me report to him.\u00a0\nBeing a respected report of the CEO and working at the top level of the company allows me to maximize the value of what IT and digital can bring to the company. If my job were to run traditional IT where we are only cutting costs and consolidating systems, I would not have been interested as I believe that\u2019s only part of my job.\u00a0\nWhy is the CIO reporting structure so important?\nDoes the CEO want to save costs or maximize value? Does the CEO view IT as the driver behind technology or back office systems? In my opinion, there is no other organization in the company that can alter the way the company operates than IT. It is as critical for IT and digital to be involved in the company\u2019s most strategic conversations as it is finance, sales or operations. If the CIO and CDO do not report to the CEO, IT could be pushed to be purely operational and do very little to capitalize on new digital capabilities.\nIf the CIO and CDO do not report to the CEO, IT could be pushed to be purely operational and do very little to capitalize on new digital capabilities.\nThe reporting structure is also important for talent acquisition. Top technology professionals want to work at Sealed Air because they see we are driving innovative solutions not only for our employees but also for our customer base. We do much more than support an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.\nWhat is your approach to developing digital capabilities?\nWe have a three-pronged approach: Internally, we are using agile approaches to developing digital capabilities. We are also establishing strategic partnerships. When it comes to delivering digital technologies, our goal is to be an industry leader. We are always evaluating potential key partnerships when it comes to delivering these technologies and our digital ecosystem.\nIncluded under that partnership umbrella are universities. We are talking to several leading universities about programs to allow their engineering students to work with us on new solutions.\nAnd finally, we are always looking at opportunities to acquire technology companies that can provide us with capabilities we do not already have in house. To facilitate all of these levers, we have dedicated legal assistance for technology. When we need technology licenses, run into governance issues, or want to connect data assets from multiple companies, we can move very quickly because we are removing the legal roadblocks from the beginning.\nHow have you changed the culture in IT and Digital to align with your dual CIO\/CDO role?\nFor my team, our transformation to digital has been a tremendous cultural shift. The fact that I am a direct report to the CEO lets them know that we are a true business partner and that IT and Digital does not have to ask permission to innovate. The message that I give them, through one-on-ones and in team meetings, is that we want to be hunters, not farmers. We need our technology organization to be aggressive, know the business and the technology, and know how to bring solutions to the business. \u00a0\nWe no longer ask, \u201cWhat\u2019s broken? How can I help you?\u201d Our approach is, \u201cWe\u2019ve looked at this product or service, and here are some things we can do to enhance it.\u201d In fact, when I joined the company, we had a business relationship management group, which I redefined as a \u201cbusiness development and relationship management\u201d group, to underscore our approach to develop solutions proactively.\nAbout Marc Hamer\nAs Corporate Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer of Sealed Air, Marc leads the IT, Digital and Innovation organization to design and execute mission-critical business transformation programs. Working in close coordination with Sealed Air divisions, R&D and other functions, he is key to articulating and driving Sealed Air\u2019s digital and overall corporate strategy.\nMarc is also responsible for Sealed Air\u2019s IT systems and assets globally, ensuring that technologies align with the objectives and priorities of the business. \nMarc sits on advisory boards for Insight Venture Management and FireMon.