by Martha Heller

You can switch industries – even in this market

Mar 01, 2010

You can switch industries – even in this market

In past posts, I have labeled this job market as one of industry specialization, where CEOs tend to hire CIOs who look, sound and smell like an industry insider.  But for those of you who would like to move into a new industry, take heart:  There are definitely exceptions to this rule.

Take Puneet Bhasin, who recently left his IT executive role with Monster Worldwide for the CIO spot at Waste Management, the $14B leading provider of waste and environmental services with 45,000 employees.  Unless I am missing something, Monster and Waste Management bear little in the way of industry similarities.  So, why would a garbage company choose a CIO from an online services company?  “Waste Management’s strategy is to get to know our customers better, to service them better and to interact with them through the channels where they want to interact,” says Bhasin.  “That’s why the executive committee did not consider industry experience important.  What they wanted was someone with experience in a highly customer centric environment who has knowledge of online, CRM, mobile and logistics solutions. I had all of that in my background.”

Regarding how to answer the “but you don’t have industry experience” objections from the interview panel, Bhasin found it to be a non-issue. “Before they even started the search, the executive committee knew that technology would be a huge enabler for this company, and that customer focused experience was critical. No one challenged me on industry background.”

The lesson for those of you in search of a new industry:  when talking with recruiters and others in your network, emphasize your expertise – whether it’s CRM, process improvement, or organizational transformation — that transcends multiple industries (and find an enlightened senior management team).

Now, onto the news…

Drive-in restaurant chain SONIC , recently announced that Craig Miller has joined the company as CIO. Miller comes to Sonic from his position as CIO of Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video, and before that, he held senior positions with Bank of America and PepsiCo. Jeff Turner has been promoted to EVP of Operations and CIO of Cost Plus, Inc., a specialty retailer of casual home living and entertaining products. Turner is responsible for information technology, store operations, logistics and the distribution centers.  He joined Cost Plus in September 2007 as CIO and has 26 years of information technology experience, as well as 18 years of retail experience. Prior to joining CostPlus, Turner was Chief Information Officer for Restoration Hardware.

Edward Hanapole has been named CIO of educational services company, Kaplan, where he will be IT leader for Kaplan’s educational businesses, which include higher education, test prep, professional training and K12 programs.  Prior to joining Kaplan, Hanapole served as Chief Information Officer for Star TV based in Hong Kong, one of the largest broadcast media companies in Asia and part of News Corporation. He worked earlier for the company in its New York headquarters in 2006 as Vice President of Global Technology.

Brad Hudak has joined Champion Energy as CIO,  where he will spearhead a range of technology-driven internal programs and external initiatives to ensure state-of-the-art systems. Hudak has more than 19 years of experience in information technology, most recently serving as vice president of information systems and technology at NetVersant Solutions, a national provider of converging IT solutions.

Home care and hospice company Amedisys, announced that G. Patrick Thompson, Jr., formerly of The Shaw Group,  is the company’s new EVP of Administration and CIO. Thompson has more than 23 years of experience in streamlining business processes and improving operational efficiencies, most recently as the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of The Shaw Group,  a Fortune 500 engineering, technology, construction, fabrication, nuclear, environmental and industrial services company.. Prior to The Shaw Group,  Thompson served as CIO Turner Industries.

The Options Clearing Corporation  (OCC) announced that Raymond Tamayo has joined the company as CIO. Previously Tamayo served as Director of IT development and infrastructure management for the Commercial Business and Leasing Group at Citigroup.  Tamayo brings over 20 years of experience in management-level IT and operational positions where he achieved success in start-up, turnaround and high-growth ventures.

Smart Kids Group Inc., a global provider of children’s digital education and entertainment, appoints Peter Zmudzki, into the dual roles of CIO and CTO.  Zmudzki has over twenty years of experience in interactive digital communication content and network design and has lectured at a number of colleges and universities on interactive graphic multimedia and network design and technologies.

Dr. Rhonda Medows, Commissioner and State Health Officer of the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), announced the appointment of Perry Sims as CIO.  Sims has eight years of specialized health care information technology experience and 28 years of information technology experience. Sims has been with DCH since October 2007 where he served as Director of Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS). He has served as the Project Executive for the Department’s new MMIS and part of DCH’s Information Technology Leadership Team for the MMIS implementation.

Wolters Kluwer, a global information services and publishing company, announced that the company has appointed Peter Cook as CIO for the company’s European Global Shared Services (GSS) organization. In this role, Cook will be in charge of Wolters Kluwer’s global IT infrastructure, and he will oversee the European GSS’ IT activities, including managing the IT portfolio across Europe. Before joining Wolters Kluwer, Cook held the position of CIO Europe and most recently, Global CIO for Application Development at Nielsen. 

Kathleen McElligott is the new CIO of engineering company Emerson. She replaces Stephen Hassell, who had been CIO since 2004 before being named President of combined Aperture and Avocent businesses within Emerson Network Power last month.  McElligott joined Emerson in 2000 as vice president of information technology for the Emerson Power Transmission division. In 2003, she was promoted to vice president of information technology for the Industrial Automation business, a title she held until her promotion to CIO. 

PHH Corporation announced that Jeff Bell has been appointed CIO. In his role, Bell will assume responsibility for developing and executing operational strategies to promote organizational growth and optimal utilization of emerging technologies across the company. Bell brings to PHH more than 15 years of technology experience including large scale acquisition integrations, one of which was the seamless transition of combining the former Countrywide and Bank of America’s technology platforms.

WSFS Financial Corporation, the parent company of WSFS Bank, announced that it has named S. James Mazarakis as EVP and CTO. Mazarakis had been serving as interim CTO since May 2009. Mazarakis came to WSFS with nearly 30 years of experience in banking, investment management and brokerage services. He served on senior leadership teams, CIO for T. Rowe Price, and Managing Director and Divisional CIO at J.P. Morgan Investment Asset Management. He also worked on large scale international projects and merger and acquisition teams at Capital One Financial and Goldman Sachs. 

Many thanks to everyone who has been sending me news. Keep it coming!


Martha HellerManaging Director, IT Leadership Practice

ZRG Partners