Mind the Gap

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gain significant points toward the COO role.

Learn to talk finance. “Finance is the language of business. Get comfortable talking about cash flow, income statements and balance sheets, not just software licensing and your headcount budget,” says Eckroth.

Join a board. “If you can get on a board, either nonprofit or for-profit, you can demonstrate your leadership outside of the IT space,” says Eckroth.

Greg Carmichael, COO, Fifth Third Bancorp

Greg Carmichael held IT leadership roles at GE for several years before becoming CIO for Emerson Electric. In 2003, he joined Fifth Third Bancorp as CIO. “My job was to get the IT organization to a place where we could acquire and integrate other banks and open new branches,” he says. “We accomplished that in a short amount of time, so I started to take on new responsibilities.” Carmichael took on areas beyond IT including investment operations, Six Sigma, global sourcing and program management, among other things. In 2006 his title changed to COO to reflect those responsibilities and to anticipate his role in future initiatives.

His boss, Kevin Kabat, president of Fifth Third Bancorp, had recognized Carmichael’s leadership qualities. “When we began to work together, I realized that Greg saw beyond technology and looked at our business from the customer experience,” Kabat says. When it was time to choose a COO, he turned to Carmichael. Carmichael offers the following suggestions for aspiring COOs.

Raise your hand for enterprise initiatives. “Step in as acting CFO when there is turnover in finance, or lead the recruitment effort for a new head of HR. Demonstrate enterprise leadership in your day job and you’re on the road to your next position,” says Carmichael.

When Carmichael joined Fifth Third, he saw the company had not matured in its sourcing strategy, an area he knew from his years in manufacturing. “My recommendation was that we build a sourcing organization,” says Carmichael, “and I offered to do it myself.”

Quickly demonstrate knowledge of the business. “It is critical during your first 12 months as CIO to demonstrate your ability to grasp the complexities and challenges of the business,” says Carmichael. “This will be a deciding factor in whether they take the risk on you.”

Recruit and build a great IT team. “One of the important

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