by Meridith Levinson

How EDS Became an IT Leadership Talent Pool

Feb 06, 20083 mins

Like GE and Pepsico, EDS is one of those sprawling companies that’s a fertile ground for sourcing candidates for CIO positions. Over the past two months alone, three companies have found their CIOs at EDS:

  • United Airlines plucked Keith Halbert from his CIO gig at the services provider in December.
  • Also in December, IT outsourcer CompuCom hired Laurie Simon as its new CIO. She previously had served as a client delivery executive.
  • Last month, A.H. Belo Corp. lured Matthew Bieri from his post as vice president of global delivery for EDS’s human resources outsourcing organization.

Breck Ray, president of executive search firm Ray Partners in Fort Worth, Texas, says EDS’s size, scope and technology expertise attract corporate recruiters and headhunters like himself who are looking for IT leaders. EDS, based in Plano, Texas, boasts 134,000 employees worldwide, with 57,000 of them concentrated in North America. The company provides IT services to every major industry including energy, financial services, manufacturing, retail, telecom and the public sector. Because EDS employees tend to focus on a particular industry, they develop expertise in that sector, says Ray. Consequently, he adds, when an energy company, for example, is looking for an IT executive with deep knowledge of that industry, EDS is likely on their target list.

What’s more, because EDS manages its clients’ technology, employees are exposed to a variety of different hardware and software platforms, says Ray. Thus, they combine a solid understanding of different technologies with their industry expertise, which makes them attractive candidates. EDS also has good training and leadership development programs for employees, says Ray.

Equally important is EDS professionals’ openness to recruiters’ calls. “You have a receptive audience when you call EDS people to talk about other opportunities,” says Ray. “Typically, companies are prime recruiting ground when their stock is way off or they’ve been through massive turmoil, which EDS has gone through.”

Indeed, in 2003, the services provider embarked on a major restructuring after a drop in sales and earnings. The board brought in new leadership, including a new CEO, and the company embarked on a more focused strategy. Since 2000, the company’s stock has been on a roller coaster. Today it trades at less than $20 a share and is trending downward.

“Whatever options they [employees] had are probably not worth much, and that’s another reason why people are looking to leave,” says Ray.

The next time you’re looking looking for IT leadership, will you look to EDS? Where do you go to find talent?