by Tom Field

ON THE MOVE – Dodd Returns to CIO Role at Kaiser

Apr 01, 20024 mins

Cliff Dodd jokes that since turning 51, he’s developed a sudden interest in health care. That’s one reason he took the job as senior vice president and CIO at Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland, Calif.-based HMO.

The truth is that after long stints in the financial services and telecommunications industries–most recently as president and CEO of Westminster, Colo.-based Latis Networks–Dodd wanted to ply his IT skills in an industry that needed them most. “The health-care industry needs a lot of help from the technology perspective,” Dodd says. “I like taking an organization that’s behind the curve and bringing it up to speed.”

Dodd inherits Kaiser’s 5,000-member IT staff that networked the company’s nine-state, 8.1-million-member operations under the guidance of former CIO Tim Sullivan. Among health-care organizations, Kaiser is considered one of the best at collecting and sharing medical data throughout its integrated health-care network.

Nevertheless, Kaiser struggles to manage its data well. The company supports multiple platforms and data centers, and application development isn’t as disciplined or efficient as Dodd would prefer. “Health care today is where banking was 20 years ago,” he says. “We have data from 8 million patients?that’s incredible. But pulling it all together is the problem.”

Dodd will lead an initiative to move Kaiser to a single information platform, as well as boost personal productivity and introduce a new value-driven software-development delivery discipline within the IT organization.

Looking Back

Dodd spent 13 years at American Express, where he designed and developed the company’s image-based billing system. The years he spent as CIO of telecom companies Ameritech and Qwest Communications earned him a reputation for effective integration and optimization of disparate information systems. Last June, Dodd left Qwest to become president and CEO of Latis Networks, an operating service provider. As that company struggled in the tech bust, it retrenched, and Dodd resigned earlier this year.

What does Dodd bring to the table now that he has served as CEO? “A broader perspective,” he says. “I can translate better and communicate far more effectively with the sales and marketing guys. I’m more sympathetic and empathetic with them.” He also jokes that when it comes to broader business issues, he now knows “more than enough to be a little dangerous.”

Dodd does have a learning curve in his new industry, but the real challenge, he says, is the same one faced by all new CIOs: building relationships with other business leaders. “This job is just as much about behavior and relationships as it is about the application of technology,” Dodd says. “My challenge is to translate what I know in a value-added way. It’s a leadership challenge.”

News of Other Moves

Robert P. DeRodes, former CIO at Delta Air Lines, has been named executive vice president of IT and CIO at The Home Depot. He replaces longtime CIO Ron Griffin, who left the Atlanta-based retail chain at the end of 2001.

Back at Delta Air Lines, Curtis Robb has been named acting CIO, replacing DeRodes. Robb, formerly the CTO at Delta subsidiary Delta Technology, will also serve as acting president and CEO of Delta’s IT business unit.

Brian Kovacs, former vice president of IT at Walker Information, has been promoted to senior vice president and CIO of the Indianapolis-based research company.

John E. Metzger has been appointed senior vice president and CIO at The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P supermarkets), replacing Nicholas L. Ioli Jr., who left the company to pursue other interests. Formerly senior vice president of supply chain and business process initiative at A&P, he will retain that role in his new job.

Douglas P. Neary, formerly a management consultant to Cott Corp., has been hired as vice president and CIO at the Toronto-based soft-drink manufacturer. In this new role, he will be responsible for Cott’s IT operations in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.