by Meridith Levinson

CIO Job Moves, May 2003

May 01, 20034 mins

Alex Zoghlin (left) has hit the road. Last month he left his post as CTO of Orbitz after a three-year tenure with the online travel agent. He is credited with using proprietary, low-cost technology to design the online booking platform that connects directly to the airlines’ internal host systems. Orbitz had not named a successor at press time, but it had retained executive search firm Blackbird Partners to find a replacement. Zoghlin didn’t say where his travels were taking him.

Too bad Orbitz can’t recruit Stuart Walters to succeed Zoghlin. Walters’ experience in the travel and e-commerce business would make him a suitable match. Walters was hired in January as the new CIO of Opodo, the Pan-European online travel portal launched by nine European airlines (Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, KLM and Lufthansa). Prior to working for Opodo, Walters consulted for online travel agencies while he was employed by IT services company Nascence. Before that, he was COO of U.K.-based online travel agent and IT director for Airtours UK Leisure Group.

In other news from the travel industry, America West promoted its CIO, Joseph Beery, to senior vice president and CIO. Beery’s promotion comes amid an executive reorganization at the airline that includes the promotions of two other corporate officers and the resignation of the company’s executive vice president. On the other side of the globe, Air New Zealand named Robert Fyfe as its new CIO. Fyfe most recently served as COO and managing director of ITV Digital.

CIOs in HR?

More companies are adding HR responsibilities to their CIOs’ already full plates. Last March, Kenneth M. Smith started juggling his CIO responsibilities with his new function as chief human resources officer for PolyOne, a polymer services company. Also in March, Gaylord Entertainment, the hospitality and entertainment company that operates the Grand Ole Opry, named former IT head Karen Spacek to the position of senior vice president of HR, training and development, and corporate communications. Replacing Spacek in Gaylord Entertainment’s top IT spot is Rickie E. Hall (left), who comes from ANC Rental, the car rental company that operates the National and Alamo brands.

Fiscal Fitness

Bally Total Fitness, the operator of nearly 420 upscale gyms around the world, put Gail Holmberg in charge of trimming the fat from the company’s IT organization. Holmberg, a veteran of Sears, will report to Bill Fanelli, Bally’s senior vice president of finance.

ProFILE: The Cio’s CFO

Rick Puckett’s I.T. background makes him the type of CFO every CIO dreams about. The 49-year-old vice president (right), CFO and treasurer of United Natural Foods, a $1.18 billion distributor of natural and organic products, has eight years of IT experience. Prior to joining the company last January, Puckett served as CIO for Suntory Water Group, a bottled water distributor. He was also responsible for IT at General Cable and Misco North America.

Because he’s worn both the CIO and CFO hats, the soft-spoken Puckett has a unique perspective on the differences between the two roles, how tension can arise, and how it should be diffused. He believes conflicts between CIOs and CFOs stem from the different time frames in which they operate. CFOs live in a world of monthly reports and quarterly earnings. CIOs, on the other hand, deal with IT projects over several months, if not several quarters.

Conflicts also flare up over ROI (no surprise there). When Puckett took over as CIO of Suntory’s IT staff of 65 employees, they were wary because “they thought they were going to have to do ROIs for everything,” he says. Puckett won them over by focusing on what they could learn from each other and by sharing the goal of making IT an integral part of the corporate strategy. They were able to save $1.5 million by consolidating systems, eliminating redundant services and designing a more efficient network. He still made his staff do ROIs, though. “That’s what we should be doing in the CIO role,” he says. “Having a sensitivity for what things cost and how things benefit the company in terms of ROI is a very positive thing.”