by CIO Staff

Female CIO Ascends to CEO

Dec 01, 20014 mins

As CEO of Spherion, the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based recruiting and outsourcing company, Cinda A. Hallman is in a unique position. The 57-year-old ex-DuPont CIO is one of few IT executives to ascend to the top of any organizational chart. And she’s one of only five women to currently hold the CEO role in a Fortune 500 company.

She also faces a unique challenge: to use her IT experience as a strategic lever in an attempt to turn around Spherion’s flagging fortunes. “I don’t like to sit back and let life pass me by,” Hallman says of her decision to jump from smooth-sailing DuPont to the choppy seas at Spherion. “I like a little risk in my life.”

Formerly known as Interim Services, Spherion was founded in 1946 and went public in 1994. Under the leadership of ex-CEO Raymond Marcy, the company grew from $537 million in revenue in 1994 to $3.7 billion in 2000. But so much of that money was poured into unbridled growth (34 acquisitions in those six years) that investor confidence fell. From a $30-per-share high in 1998, Spherion’s stock hit a low of $6.35 this past April?eight days before the company’s board replaced Marcy with Hallman.

While she’d been DuPont’s senior vice president of global systems and processes just prior to the move (and the company’s CIO for several years before that, orchestrating its 10-year, $4 billion IT outsourcing deal in 1996), Hallman sat on Spherion’s board for six years, so she knew what she was walking into. “We had more vision than we could execute,” she says, pointing to the spate of acquisitions. “A lot of the acquisitions were not integrated [with Spherion’s systems and processes], and with some it was not clear how they would fit in. My challenge is to sort out this array of businesses and see what makes sense for the future.”

In her first four months on the job, Hallman focused on quick hits?such as consolidating some of the company’s remote offices?and on developing a long-term strategy centered on Spherion’s outsourcing business. Outsourcing currently makes up about 17 percent of the company’s revenue, but Hallman would like to see that reach 30 percent by 2004. She also hired a new CIO, Douglas P. Cormany, who joined in May, replacing Bob Evans. Cormany, previously CIO at NationsRent and Book-of-the-Month Club, will develop and manage Spherion’s global technology infrastructure.

Since taking over, Hallman has seen Spherion’s stock value rise ($8.24 per share on Sept. 10), but in a down economy this turnaround project continues to offer the risk she sought when she left DuPont. “A big company is like a good set of parents?it provides security and comfort, but if you don’t step out, you will never be able to stand on your own,” Hallman says. “Here, truly, the future of the company rests on the quality of judgments and decisions I make. It’s an awesome responsibility, but I like the difference.”

Player’s Guide

Chris Heeley has been named CTO of Royal & SunAlliance USA, the Charlotte, N.C.-based insurance company. Formerly a senior IT leader at USAA, Heeley is responsible for planning and driving Royal & SunAlliance’s technology platforms in support of business operations.

Christopher South has joined Charleston, S.C.-based software manufacturer Blackbaud as CIO. Formerly director of information resources at Georgia-Pacific, South leads Blackbaud’s IT services division.

Michael Willoughby, partner of commerce technologies at PFSweb, has been promoted to senior partner, executive vice president/CIO of the Plano, Texas-based outsourcer. He will look to expand and enhance the company’s IT services for internal and external customers.