by Martha Heller

Obama’s New CIO, plus new CIOs for TJX, New York Life, BCBS of RI, and more…

Mar 06, 20094 mins

 The big news this week, of course, is that President Obama appointed Vivek Kundra, formerly CTO for the District of Columbia, as the first federal CIO.  The new CIO (who is 34 years old, by the way) has his work ahead of him as he manages all of that federal technology spending.  I hope I speak for everyone when I wish Vivek luck in applying IT strategy to a troubled organization!

Also this week, Ignite Media Solutions announced the addition of Gary Smith to its executive team as CIO.

And SafeNet, an information security company, appointed Russell Dietz as CTO and promoted Jan Manning to CIO.

Late in February, New York Life International announced the appointment Thomas Burke as CIO. Tom joins New York Life from Citi Global Consumer Investments.

In January, Bill Wray, formerly CIO of Citizens Financial Group has proved that industry hopping can still happen and joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island as CIO. “I’ve also really come to enjoy being a ‘Chief Process Officer’ in the last few years,” says Wray, “and the processes in the health care industry are ripe for optimization. I am excited about having a seat in this business.”

Also in Jauuary, Marlowe Farrar left Haemonetics Corporation, for the CIO spot at Management Sciences for Health, a non-profit NGO because “the challenge and new learning of how to make IT work in developing nations was a big attraction. I knew that I would learn as much (or more) from my staff as they would learn from me.”

While holding onto his role as CIO of the Kennedy Center, Alan Levine, has just become Chairman of the Board of the Tessitura Network, a not-for-profit software users organization.

And Kathy Lane, formerly CIO of National Grid, recently took the IT helm of retailer TJX. 

While we are on the subject of retail CIOs, I asked Cathy Hotka, the reigning industry expert on all things pertaining to retail CIOs for outlook on CIO hiring in retail. Her response: “2009 should be a wild year for retail CIOs. With a combined sharp downturn in sales, exceptionally long CIO tenure, and management’s preference for merely keeping the lights on, the environment for game-changing CIOs looks exceptionally rough. A number of retail companies have decided to cut the CIO function itself. Hold on!” (So, much for keeping this blog as a last bastion of optimism…)

Thanks to all of you for your patience as I work through some of the many 4th quarter 08 changes that took place during the Movers & Shakers hiatus:

On that note, I was on the phone with Anthony Hill this week, who in November made an interesting career step. He had been CIO of Golden Gate University for seven years when he received a call in August from Mark Resmer, SVP of Strategy at TopSchool, a cloud-computing startup in higher ed.  Anthony had been a customer of the company’s founders and maintained a relationship with them over the years.  When TopSchool was ready to hire a new CTO in November, Anthony was the clear choice.  Now Anthony is leading a growing start-up in commercial education, one of the only red-hot industries around right now. The lesson:  ABN (always be networking) that’s where opportunity comes from.

In September, Dan Speicher joined Hughes Telematics as CIO, after a 20 year stint at InfoUSA.  “The move was a chance to leverage my product development, software services and integration experience in a leading-edge automobile service provider.” says Speicher. “Plus, I love the technology.”

Mubashar Hameed joined Moneygram International as CIO in November, after running FuzionOne, an IT consulting firm and serving as SVP and CIO at Fiserv Output Solutions.

And finally, David Guzman, formerly at Accretive Commerce, became CIO of interactive firm, Acxiom.

For those of you who are on the market and would like to see your name up here sooner rather than later, I offer an observation.  I spend my days talking to CIOs who are on the market of have just come off it, and one thing is clear: while the supply and demand equation has shifted, the three most important elements of a job search remain: network, and then network, and then network some more. Use linked in, facebook, or whatever you like the most. But leave no stone unturned. There

is a great job out there with your name on it, but in this market, it is up to you find it and claim it.

Thanks for listening and send me good news! 

Martha Heller

Managing Director, IT Leadership Practice

ZRG Partners