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CIO Spotlight: James Rutt, Dana Foundation

An early adopter of cutting edge cloud security solutions, James Rutt led a full cloud transformation at Dana Foundation, long before it came in vogue in the enterprise.

james rutt dana foundation
Dana Foundation

As CIO at the Dana Foundation, Mr. Rutt's responsibilities include providing strategic planning for information and technology management and overseeing all back-office technology operations necessary to support the Foundation. He frequently speaks on the topics of corporate cybersecurity strategy and risk management, and also advises early stage technology companies on their sales strategy to the financial and healthcare sector. He is a board director of Technology Affinity Group (TAG), a founding advisory board member of BWG Strategy LLC, a Work-Bench Venture Capital Mentor/Advisor and is a member of Society for Information Management, Cloud Security Alliance, and CIO4Good, among other leadership organizations. Here he shares his advice for future tech leaders, pioneering cloud adoption and the importance of finding good security team members.

What was your first job? I started out as an inside sales rep at a small import company called Emerem Trading in Edgewater, N.J. I made the move into IT after 6 years there, taking the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) course nights and weekends until I passed all the exams. My first job in IT was as a help desk analyst at a reseller called Alphanet Solutions in Cedar Knolls, N.J.

Did you always want to work in IT? No, I originally wanted to be an actuary. What really precipitated my move into IT was the release of Windows 95 along with the mainstream use of the internet. I came to the realization that technology would become embraced, rather than relegated to the basement, with newer tools such as these.

Tell us about your career path. After 6 years in marketing and sales, I took courses to attain the MCSE certification from Microsoft in 1997. Starting as a help desk analyst that same year, I took a succession of positions from system engineer to assistant director to director to assistant vice president and finally to my current role as CIO at Dana Foundation.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organization in the coming year? Cybersecurity, particularly when trying to enforce governance and risk management in software development lifecycles, in order to protect our investments in every part of the software value chain. Our shift from waterfall-based development to a more agile, DevOps-based value chain was greatly enabled by the adoption of security tools such as CYBRIC. Other initiatives we are focusing on include practical uses of AI [artificial intelligence], along with various data initiatives.

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