Morrison Succeeds Seltzer at Office Depot
Patricia Morrison has an interesting perspective on her challenges as the new CIO at Office Depot. She might not have experience as a retail industry executive, but she has one heck of a history as an office products consumer.
“I have an intuitive knowledge of the products we sell,” says Morrison, 42, who comes to Delray Beach, Fla.-based Office Depot from the CIO position at Quaker Oats, “so, I bring to this job the perspective of being a major customer.”
She also brings a deep background in both business and IT. She started her IT career at Procter & Gamble. In 1997, after a 16-year tenure at P&G, she left to become CIO of GE Industrial Systems. She then joined Quaker Oats in June 2000. Although these have all been manufacturing jobs, they’ve given Morrison the chance to work closely with marketing, sales and other facets of the business. “I’ve done M&As, ERP rollouts, and I have a very strong business background, as well as depth of IT,” she says. “Now I have to learn the retail industry and understand its different suite of apps.”
Morrison steps into a firmly rooted CIO role, replacing longtime CIO William Seltzer, who retired at the end of 2001. Under Seltzer’s leadership, Office Depot developed an industry-leading e-business channel that won kudos for the IT group (Office Depot was a CIO-100 honoree in 2000 and an Enterprise Value Award winner in 2001).
Office Depot currently has operations in 15 foreign countries and 14 websites in countries overseas. Part of Morrison’s challenge is to enable further growth and streamline more of Office Depot’s internal processes and information systems. So far, she is impressed by the commitment to IT demonstrated by chairman and CEO Bruce Nelson and other senior executives. “They want IT, understand IT and really want to use IT,” Morrison says. “And I really get a kick out of applying IT to the business. The capability of bridging business and technology?of translating technology to business and doing it well?I like doing that.”
Parker Flies from Northwest to A.G. Edwards
After 20 years in the airline industry, John Parker has taken the CTO job at A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis. Parker, the former CIO at Northwest Airlines, says this is a significant move.
The opportunity to reshape A.G. Edwards’ IT organization is what attracted Parker to his new post (see “Executive Relationships,” Page 58). “This is an advice company and a technology company,” Parker says, “but they really haven’t leveraged the technology side.” His charge is to refresh?or rebuild if necessary?the company’s IT infrastructure, organization and business model. “It’s almost a green field,” he says.
This will not be without its challenges, though. The financial services industry is much different than the airlines?especially the culture. “The airline industry is almost military-like,” Parker says. “Here, it’s close to a law firm?much more of a professional culture.”
Despite the learning curve, Parker believes his IT and business leadership skills will give him the tools he needs. “The nouns are different,” he says, “but the verbs are all the same.”
News of Other Moves
James Lamb, formerly with Perot Systems, has joined Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts as CIO of the London-based chain. His appointment is the latest in a series of executive moves made since Nomura’s Principal Finance Group purchased Le Meridien in July 2001.
James A. DiMarzio, formerly senior vice president and CIO of Agency Holding, has been named CIO at Mazda North American Operations in Irvine, Calif.
Federal-Mogul Corp., the Southfield, Mich.-based auto parts manufacturer, has appointed Michael P. Gaynor as senior vice president and CIO. Gaynor, formerly CIO of Avery Dennison, is responsible for building strategies and processes to support the company’s global product line.