by Meridith Levinson

Margaret Thomas’s New Job

Nov 06, 20063 mins

In the November 1, 2006 issue of CIO, I write about the increasing number of CIOs taking jobs with technology vendors to broaden their careers.  I spoke with one such CIO-turned-vendor, Margaret Thomas, about her decision to leave her post as CIO of Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts and join software and services provider Sentillion as its VP of services.  Due to word-count constraints, I couldn’t include all the details about Thomas’s move to Sentillion in that piece, so I share more information here.

In February 2005, Thomas finished an important project for the hospital: the implementation of a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system. With the initiative under her belt, she began to think seriously about her next move. She explored an opportunity to lead an effort to standardize on one computing platform at Newton Wellesley Hospital’s parent company, Partners Healthcare, but concluded the work would be too similar to what she had just done. She says the platform consolidation would have used the same relationship management and project management skills she exercised during the CPOE deployment.

“I was looking to stretch beyond the skills I had. I wanted to do some strategic planning and have an impact on a company’s direction. If I had stayed with Partners, that [strategy] would have been determined by others,” says Thomas.

Thomas learned of the opening at the Andover, Mass.-based Sentillion from the company’s president, Nancy Hamm, with whom Thomas had worked while at Healtheon WebMD. The two executives had re-established their connection when Newton Wellesley Hospital purchased single sign-on and context management solutions from Sentillion.   

The job with Sentillion presented the new challenge Thomas was seeking as well as the opportunity to have an impact on a company’s direction, products and services. She was also attracted to the fact that Sentillion is in start-up mode.  “I didn’t want to go to an established vendor. I didn’t want to be a part of a machine. I was looking for something where I could get jazzed up again,” she says, adding that she had received job offers from other vendors while she was at Newton Wellesley Hospital.  

In her new role, Thomas is responsible for managing relationships between Sentillion and its clients.  For instance, she makes sure customers experience a smooth transition from sales to implementation to support. Thomas believes her new role will advance her career by expanding her network and getting exposure to ways different IT organizations run and the technology they use.   

She hasn’t ruled out a return to the CIO role in the future and believes her new experience will be an asset if she so chooses.