Perhaps more than anything, Darwin John has made a name for himself by seeding the landscape with CIOs, people like Steve Finnerty, formerly of Kraft Foods, and Steve Edmonson of Cardinal Health’s Oral Technologies division. But the CIO John is proudest of is his son, Steven, who is one of the first second-generation CIOs.
Not that the younger John set out to follow in his father’s footsteps. “Dad’s the kind of guy who never gives advice. I started out on a legal track, and he talked me into IT subtly,” he says. His father sent him notes about how there were too many attorneys in the world, and introduced him to movers and shakers in the CIO world. Pretty soon, Steven John was selected for a six-month IT training course provided by his first employer, Cigna, and later assumed the executive director position for the Society for Information Management.
A year ago, the 41-year-old accepted his first CIO post with the farm cooperative Agriliance in St. Paul, Minn. And he says it’s pretty handy having someone he can count on when he has a question about, say, whether to outsource or how to get out of a sticky situation.
“You close the door and call Dad,” says Steven. “He’s my father, friend and mentor all wrapped up into one.”