by Meridith Levinson

AEP Puts Business Executive in CIO Role and CIO in Business Exec’s Role

Dec 19, 20072 mins

Plus: AutoZone appoints internal candidate to succeed retiring Ken Brame as CIO

American Electric Power (AEP) announced a slew of organizational and executive leadership changes last Friday. Among them, Kevin Walker, the president of AEP Ohio, will become AEP’s CIO. Joe Hamrock, who heads the IT department, will move into Walker’s role and become president of AEP Ohio. The role reversal is designed to give the executives an understanding of the corporate and operating company sides of AEP’s business, according to the press releases announcing the changes. Michael Morris, AEP’s chairman, president and CEO, explained the switcheroo thusly:

Kevin Walker has had several years of experience in the field and can now bring the knowledge he has gained in the utility business to one of the company’s most challenging and important corporate center jobs.
Getting it right in the IT world – from projects such as GridSMART to the challenging areas of cyber security – is increasingly important to our company. The IT organization will benefit greatly from the business understanding that Kevin brings from the front lines of the organization. Similarly, Joe Hamrock will bring his corporate experience in distribution operations and IT to the operating company with great benefit.

Consultants and executive recruiters who work closely with CIOs say we’re going to see more companies like AEP rotate business executives through the CIO role in 2008 to give them a better understanding of IT’s impact on the business and to bring their business focus to the IT organization. It’s nice to see that AEP is giving its CIO a similar opportunity, to run a P&L.

AutoZone promoted its vice president of IT to SVP of IT and CIO on Monday. Jon Bascom moves into the position currently held by Ken Brame, who is retiring from the

Memphis, Tenn.-based auto parts retailer on January 11, 2008. Bascom will serves on the executive committee. He reports to Bill Giles, the CFO and EVP of IT and store development. Brame has worked for Autozone since 2004.

Expect to see more companies follow in AutoZone’s tracks and select internal candidates for the CIO role when the sitting CIO leaves or gets moved into another position.