by CIO Staff

CIO Hall of Fame: DuWayne J. Peterson

Sep 15, 19973 mins
CIOIT Leadership

Sometime in the late 1980s, Peterson was reported to be the first CIO in a public company to earn a seven-figure salary.

Career Highlights

Today: President, DuWayne Peterson Associates, Pasadena, Calif.
1986-91: Executive vice president of operations, systems and telecommunications, Merrill Lynch
1977-86: Executive vice president, Security Pacific Corp.; chairman and CEO, Security Pacific Automation Co.
1973-77: Vice president of MIS, RCA Corp.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from MIT; MBA from UCLA

DuWayne Peterson had been CIO at Merrill Lynch for only a year when the stock market crashed in October 1987. For Merrill Lynch and its IS staff, it was a pivotal moment. The company had two choices: Either stop all new initiatives an d concentrate on surviving or keep going and try to weather the storm. Merrill Lynch chose the latter, and Peterson’s IS team set out to rein in the explosion of IT costs while facilitating a business plan that would allow growth. Peterson began modernizi ng the infrastructure, installing networked client/server systems before the term was coined. He was one of the first CIOs to consolidate data centers, and he introduced selective outsourcing when he turned Merrill Lynch’s voice and data network over to MCI.

“That shocked a lot of people,” Peterson recalls. “They said, ‘How can you do that–aren’t the network and information the bread and butter of Merrill Lynch?’ Yes, they are, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. We retained planning and net work control.”

 More influential than any single IT undertaking, however, was the way Peterson, as a member of the executive committee, brought IS out of the back office and thrust it into the main revenue stream of the business, says Bill Kelvie, executive vice p resident and CIO at Fannie Mae. Acting as a consultant to Merrill Lynch during Peterson’s watch, Kelvie saw him hire new systems managers who were increasingly comfortable and effective in working with the front-line business professionals. Kelvie, who considers Peterson a mentor, says he “has a great concern for others and a sense of fair play and integrity that comes across immediately.”

Sometime in the late 1980s, Peterson was reported to be the first CIO in a public company to earn a seven-figure salary. In actuality, the $1 million was a combination of salary and bonuses, but the widely reported news nevertheless added significantly to the perceived value of IS leadership. “It seemed to create a lot of stir, and I was surprised by that,” Peterson says. “It made a statement of the importance of the CIO.” It also helped the fiscal causes of many who followed in Peterson’s footstep s. “I had a lot of people over the years call and say, ‘Thank you, we appreciate the fact that you broke the million-dollar barrier for us.'”

We spoke to Peterson again in 2007, and he looked back on 20 years of IT change and challenge. See the