by Martha Heller

The rise of the CTO

Jun 13, 20114 mins

The rise of the CTO

Here’s an interesting trend: some companies are changing the way they develop and deliver digital technologies.  No longer does the CIO manage digital development resources as a part of IT; rather, the digital product groups hire a CTO, who designs and executes against the digital product roadmap. The CIO becomes a shared services leader who delivers commodity technology services to the CTO, who resides in the business and is a customer of the CIO (not a dotted line report).   Where the CIO used to be the business leader and the CTO was the hands-on technologist, in this model, the CTO is much closer to the business.  Susan Cramm does a great job describing the dynamic in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Put IT Where it Belongs.”

Only time will tell whether the model will work for these companies. The question to you: what does this mean for the future of the CIO role? As you ponder this existential question, let’s get on with the news.

Constellation Energy announced that it has named Michelle Robinette McKenna  CIO . Most recently, McKenna served as president of Vision Interactive Media Group in Orlando, Fla. In her role as CIO, McKenna will work with the IT leadership team to continue delivering operational excellence and innovative technology solutions. McKenna will report to Jack Thayer, senior vice president, chief financial officer, Constellation Energy.

Ernst & Young announced the appointment of Maureen (Mo) Osborne as CIO.

Mo will lead a global workforce of 3,500 employees, with principal locations in Cleveland, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, New Jersey and London, in helping to drive the firm’s strategic objectives of market and service growth, globalization and investment in people within the professional services industry. The CIO heads up the IT Services function which has direct responsibility for resources, assets and all IT activities within Ernst & Young’s global network of firms, with an annual budget of approximately US$1 billion.

Mo joins E&Y with a wealth of experience as CIO, COO and Chief Procurement Officer at a number of leading global organizations such as JP Morgan Chase and BankOne.

Scott Blanchette  recently took the post of CIO at Vanguard Health Systems . Blanchette was formerly Vice President of Business Technology and CIO at Healthways, Inc .

Len Peters has been named  Associate Vice President and CIO  for Yale University.  Peters replaces  Philip Long, who retired after 40 years with Yale University.  He will report to the Provost  and to the Vice President for Finance and Business Operations.

Textura Corporation,  a provider of collaboration solutions for the construction industry, announces the addition of Howard Niden to its management team in the newly-created position of Executive Vice President, Chief Product Architect.   Niden was formerly CIO of law firm Mayer Brown and prior to that CIO for PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s Management Consulting Division.

The former Chief Information Officer and Director of the Office of Technology for New York State, Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, has been named CEO of TRI Group Holdings (TRIGH), LLC, a technology company headquartered in Clifton Park.  Mayberry-Stewart began her career as a systems engineer at IBM and various management roles at both IBM and Amoco.

Boating retailer West Marine has promoted Brad Willis to CIO.  Willis joined West Marine in 2009 as the  Senior Director of Business Application Development.  Before joining West Marine, Willis held senior IT posts at cosmetics retailer Sephora.

Harry and David Operations has named Charles Hunsinger to the position of Senior Vice President and CIO.  Previously, Mr. Hunsinger served as Executive Vice President of Information Technology for Musician’s Friend, a musical instrument internet retailer, where he led the implementation of the company’s next-generation e-commerce platforms.

Outdoor retailer Cabela’s has named Dave Kardesh as their new CIO .    Kardesh was most recently  CTO of First Data Corporation and held senior IT posts at the Home Depot.

Michael Kirschner has been promoted to VP and CIO of Boca Raton, FL based Office Depot.  Prior to his promotion, Krischner served as VP of IT.  

Tom Schuetz, has been named VP and CTO for luxury eyewear conglomerate Luxottica. Before joining Luxottica, Schuetz was Senior Vice President and CIO of retailer Hudson’s Bay Trading Company/Lord & Taylor.   

Michael Furlow, formerly CIO at Brinker International, is now SVP and CIO at CEC (Chuck E. Cheese.)  Prior to his experience at Brinker International, Furlow held senior IT positions in the restaurant industry including Dunkin’ Brands and Einstein Noah  Restaurant Group.

Thanks for listening, and when you hear for a CIO who made a move, please send me the news.


Martha HellerPresident

Heller Search Associates