by Meridith Levinson

CIOs make headway into operations

Aug 08, 20053 mins

Aside from last week’s big announcements coming out of Redmond, Wash. (that Microsoft had hired Kevin Turner) and Round Rock, Texas (that Dell had appointed Susan Sheskey to succeed Randy Mott), I came across a few other notable and encouraging press releases about CIOs.  Based on recent hiring activity, it appears that CIOs are making significant headway into operations positions.  And you know what that means?  If they can get jobs as COOs and succeed in that post, they’ve got a better shot at becoming CEO.  Here are a few CIOs who’ve moved into ops:

Ed Kamins was promoted to chief operational excellence officer at technology distributor Avnet.  In this position, Kamins is charged with identifying ways to share information, processes, best practices and resources more effectively throughout the Phoenix, Ariz.-based company. Avnet’s new CIO, Steve Phillips (more on him in a bit), along with the entire IT organization reports to Kamins. 

Joseph Seibert, the former vice president and CIO of e-commerce vendor GSI Commerce, joined online retailer Home Decor Products as its COO.

Ted Cahall left his post as CIO and senior vice president of engineering at CNET Networks to take on the role of executive vice president and chief operating officer at and of EVP of United Online Web Services. 

I realize that these former CIOs have moved into operations positions at technology or technology-based companies, which, some say, is easier than jumping from CIO to COO at an airline, bank or retailer.  Nevertheless, I still think it’s a good sign for CIOs because it indicates that companies increasingly view the CIO’s skills and responsibilities as comparable to the rest of senior management. 

What’s interesting about the personnel announcements at Avnet is that the new CIO who’s replacing Kamins came from Memec, a company Avnet acquired last month.  It’s unusual for a CIO of a company that’s being acquired by another company to remain employed by the acquirer in the aftermath of the merger, especially if the two companies combined to gain efficiencies.  Avnet appears to have some fairly progressive HR policies in place, which drove the appointment of Phillips as CIO.  Said Kamins in the press release announcing Phillips, “If an individual from the acquired company proves to possess the right skills, attributes and experience for a position, that person will be appointed to the post.”  Makes sense.