CIOs on the Move

By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2007-06-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

General Electric has proved to be a fertile training ground for CIOs who are highly valued for their management expertise and training.

When it comes to I.T. management turnover, GE might well have the slogan, "What GE Makes, the World Takes." Numerous former GE unit-level CIOs, as well as general managers, have moved on to other companies to assume equal or higher positions.

But if GE is such a great company, why do so many GE-trained, highly capable I.T. executives depart for what they must perceive to be either greener or more challenging pastures?

Observers say there are at least a couple of reasons for the trend. For one thing, the big fish-little fish syndrome may induce GE unit CIOs to accept job offers outside the company, if only to get their own smaller pond in which to take charge of how they swim. And, certainly, GE is a well-known pit stop for any headhunter worth his or her BlackBerry stuffed with executive-level candidates. "The GE telephone directory is the prize possession of every headhunter," says Paul A. Strassmann, a former technology executive at General Foods, Xerox and the Department of Defense and an expert on how companies use I.T. for business results. "If an aspiring I.T. manager is not going to move within GE, they find out very quickly."

Another reason is that, despite its gargantuan size, GE simply may not offer enough high-level I.T. management roles to satisfy the internal demand it creates among its hard-charging, up-and-coming executive ranks. As Strassmann puts it, "All of the GE people I've met were extremely aggressive."

While GE's career development program is extensive, some former managers say the fact that only a select few get to proceed to the upper echelons is a factor in why so many good CIOs and senior managers leave the company. They are highly courted, yes, says Kiran Garimella, technology vice president at webMethods and former CIO at GE Healthcare Financial Services, but if it is apparent their careers have stalled, it makes sense to look elsewhere for opportunities.

"I think part of the reason people move on is that GE is a huge company that gives you a lot of training, but sometimes it gets tough to move on to a higher level within the company," Garimella says. "If you are ambitious to get your own sandbox to play in, it can be tough."

Garimella offers another reason—the fact that GE-trained managers and executives are highly prized: "The offers GE people get are unbelievable and, in many cases, impossible for people to turn down."

Another reason is that, despite its gargantuan size, GE simply may not offer enough high-level I.T. management roles to satisfy the internal demand it creates among its hard-charging, up-and-coming executive ranks. As Strassmann puts it, "All of the GE people I've met were extremely aggressive."

While GE's career development program is extensive, some former managers say the fact that only a select few get to proceed to the upper echelons is a factor in why so many good CIOs and senior managers leave the company. They are highly courted, yes, says Kiran Garimella, technology vice president at webMethods and former CIO at GE Healthcare Financial Services, but if it is apparent their careers have stalled, it makes sense to look elsewhere for opportunities.

"I think part of the reason people move on is that GE is a huge company that gives you a lot of training, but sometimes it gets tough to move on to a higher level within the company," Garimella says. "If you are ambitious to get your own sandbox to play in, it can be tough."

Garimella offers another reason—the fact that GE-trained managers and executives are highly prized: "The offers GE people get are unbelievable and, in many cases, impossible for people to turn down."

GE's Influence Spreads Across Industries

GE Alumnus Position At GE Current Position Business
Jean-Michel Ares CIO, GE Power Systems CIO, Coca-Cola Beverages
Jeffrey Balagna CIO, GE Consumer Motors and Controls CIO, Carlson Cos. Travel and hospitality conglomerate
Scott Carcill CIO, GE Energy Services CIO, Wynn Las Vegas Travel and tourism
John Carrow I.T. and Business Development Manager, GE Aerospace CIO, Unisys I.T. services, software and hardware
John Doucette CIO, GE Lighting CIO, United Technologies Conglomerate with aircraft, helicopter, elevator businesses
Kiran Garimella CIO, Equipment Finance Division, GE Healthcare Financial Services VP, WebMethods Computer software
Debora Horvath CIO, GE Insurance CIO, Washington Mutual Banking
Kathy Lane CIO, GE Oil & Gas CIO, National Grid Electricity and natural gas distribution
Patricia Morrison CIO, GE Industrial Systems CIO, Motorola Communications
Stuart Scott CIO, GE Healthcare CIO, Microsoft Computer software
Robert Webb CIO, GE Vendor Finance CIO, Equifax Credit and financial records management


 
 
 
 
Contributing Editor
Mel Duvall is a veteran business and technology journalist, having written for a variety of daily newspapers and magazines for 17 years. Most recently he was the Business Commerce Editor for Interactive Week, and previously served as a senior business writer for The Financial Post.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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