CIO has put the faces of nearly 150 chief information officers on its covers over the last 10 years and, as a whole, the names and faces represent a pretty good microcosm of the men and women who made the profession what it is today—one of the most interesting, challenging and important jobs in the world of business. Yet, if you focus more closely, you’ll find that a few dozen well-known CIOs strongly influenced the evolution of this young profession over the last decade and expanded the strategic possibilities of information technology in the enterprise. Whether through longtime quiet wisdom à la Dave Evans or bold breakthroughs à la Kathy Hudson, these CIOs have changed the way their own enterprises work and inspired others to emulate and surpass them. We could easily name 30 worthy individuals—pioneers, models and mentors all—but we chose to limit our list to an even dozen.
When one reads these illustrious names, one wonders who will be tomorrow’s Hopper, Feld or Wallington. No doubt future CIOs will be more technically skilled and business-savvy than their predecessors, but will they have the influence that these icons have had? Perhaps it’s all a matter of timing. The CIOs of the past decade came along when the profession was still being defined, and their actions spoke volumes because of the rarity of both visionary CIOs and the strategic use of IT. Perhaps these 12 are this profession’s equivalent of the Mercury astronauts, the Right Stuff gang whose names are now larger than life.
Meet the 12 groundbreaking CIOs recognized in 1997, including updated commentary from some of them in 2007.