by Christopher Koch

20/20 HONOREES – Robert B. Carter

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Executive Vice President and CIO

FedEx Corp.

You might have expected Rob Carter to join the military. Born in Taiwan in 1960, Carter was an Air Force brat. By 15, he had spent more of his life abroad than he had in the United States.

But by the time he hit high school, he knew the military was not for him. “I lost interest in being a freshman plebe at an academy,” says Carter, now 42. “You know, run everywhere and eat square. I dunno, maybe I was a bit of a rebel.”

Instead, he went on to study business. But one piece of his military background never left him: his worldview and the exposure to different countries and cultures. It serves him well now that his company, Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx, where he’s been CIO since June 2000, is successfully expanding its reach to become the world’s preferred logistics provider.

“American companies tend to be very ethnocentric, and frankly it’s very different in other parts of the world,” says Carter. “We have to have a broad awareness of that in order to be a globally effective company. That’s true for IT as well. We implement technology all over the world with people from all over the world.”

To that end, Carter practices (and preaches) the discipline of alignment. “There’s no stronger criteria for good implementation,” he says, “than having a great team from both the technology and the business side working together to make something happen.”