August 27, 2012, 3:16 PM — Before he was named senior vice president and global CIO at Hewlett-Packard earlier this month, Ramon Baez spent five years as CIO at Kimberly-Clark. Reflecting on his tenure at the $20 billion personal paper products company in an interview with Computerworld, Baez recounts some of his early challenges -- including outsourcing negotiations that were going off the rails and a series of unexpected SAP service outages. As he moves on to HP, Kimberly-Clark's outsourcing relationship is on firm footing, its SAP system is running without a hitch and -- most important -- its IT organization is regarded as a strategic value center.
My iPad. I absolutely love it.Android, iPhone or BlackBerry? The iPhone, because it's simple. And with the iPad, it all works together.What's your life's ambition? I'd like to be on a board of directors or two and write a book or two.What are your favorite pastimes? Golf, exercise and visiting my grandchildren.Is there something that most people don't know about you? I used to be a hair stylist. It was the family business. When I got started at Northrop Grumman, I was a tool-storage trainee, but I also cut hair.What's your favorite vice? Wine
Just as you started as CIO in 2007, Kimberly-Clark's IT organization faced a big problem.What was happening? We were going through [outsourcing negotiations] that created all sorts of challenges. When you go through that, you have a lot of morale issues and you have to make sure you transition well and stabilize the environment.
What went wrong? The terms of the outsourcing contract for our global IT infrastructure had been misinterpreted by the provider. I knew that if I didn't get engaged right away, Kimberly-Clark was going to face the same fate that occurred at other companies where I had worked. Instead of the model being more efficient and effective, it was actually going to be more expensive and very bureaucratic and difficult.
What did you do about it? The first time the CEO of the outsourcing company and I sat down, I said, "We have to make a change." He said, "I get that. But before we do that, I want to know, do we really have a relationship, you and I?" His attitude was: If we don't have a relationship, let's just kill [the contract] now. He viewed our relationship as being for a lifetime, and that changed the attitude on both sides. We produced a new statement of work that brought the higher-level engineering work back in-house and kept the stuff that was more task-oriented outsourced. It's not so much about the contract but the relationship you have with the leader of the other company. If you don't have a good relationship, then you shouldn't be working with them.