Meet the 2016 Premier 100

The annual Computerworld Premier 100 awards shine a spotlight on individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through technology.

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This year’s honorees represent more than 20 industries and organizations of all sizes, so you’re sure to find a project that piques your interest. Many of these technology executives -- some just starting out, and others well along in their careers -- also identify the title they aspire to someday. Their ideas could help you map out your own IT trajectory.

Mark Kondrak

Mark Kondrak

Title
CIO and associate vice president for IT Services

Employer
Hamline University

Location
St. Paul, Minn.

Career highlight:
I began my career as a “rocket scientist” of sorts, holding electrical, software and systems engineering roles on a number of Department of Defense projects, including the Tomahawk cruise missile. It’s been a journey from there to my current position as CIO at a university with strong liberal arts tradition.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
As CIO, I also serve as chief innovation officer, taking a lead role in moving the institution forward, and in ways not necessarily associated with technology. Particularly with my leadership team, I set a high bar, encouraging -- and sometimes pushing -- them to assume more strategic and forward-looking approaches, even while balancing that against daily operations.

Fastest-ROI project:
Progressive MDM, a mobile device management system protocol developed in collaboration with our department of safety and security. It provides around-the-clock response in the event of lost, stolen or compromised mobile devices. Within weeks of go-live, the system was used to recover the mobile device of a senior vice president.

Taavi Kotka

Taavi Kotka

Title
CIO

Employer
Republic of Estonia

Location
Tallinn, Estonia

Career highlight:
Receiving the European CIO of the Year award in 2014, from ICT Spring

Coolest project:
Estonian e-residency project. We invented a new status called e-residency, which is digital citizenship without voting rights. All other government and private-sector services are open to Estonian residents and e-residents. The idea got full support from the Estonian government and parliament. All supportive laws were accepted unanimously. The hardest part was to convince Estonian entrepreneurs that this is a huge opportunity.

New titles in your IT organization:
Full e-residency team, government IT architect

What’s the most important task you’ve delegated?
Running the e-residency project and team. I hired a new team leader.

How do you find time to innovate?
That is my main job.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar

Title
Vice president and global head, Internal IT and Shared Services

Employer
Tata Consultancy Services

Location
Mumbai, India

Coolest project:
We are working on a Gen-Y project delivery platform that combines social computing, mobility, big data and predictive analytics technologies to help users manage their work, collaborate, connect with experts, get work-related guidance and more.

A recent innovative staff idea:
iQollab, an effective and innovative use of audio/video collaboration technology to enable virtual training, meetings and collaboration.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Going forward, brick-and-mortar workspaces are likely to vanish. This will be possible through the development of virtual workspaces and crowdsourcing, where employees access organizational IT infrastructure and services using any device and any medium from any location provided by the organization to deliver products and services.

Fastest-ROI project:
We reduced IT energy consumption by around 14,000 megawatt-hours across 57 locations. This was mainly achieved by data center optimization, use of the latest technologies and deployment of innovative systems to save energy.

Title you aspire to:
Global head, Internal IT & Shared Services and Customer Delivery Centers

Victor V. Kumar

Victor V. Kumar

Title
Vice president and CIO

Employer
Preferred Employers Group

Location
San Diego

Career highlight:
Being asked to take management responsibility for a critical business process at a Fortune 500 company when I had no background in that industry. It was a turning point in my career that led me all the way to the C level in the insurance industry.

How are you using reverse-mentoring to learn from younger generations?
We reorganized our IT seating arrangement based on feedback from the youngest members of the team. We went from facing away from one another to facing one another.

New titles in your IT organization:
The title of IT architect has been added. That position reports to the CIO. This ensures that the technology viewpoint has a strong presence at the IT leadership table to counterbalance the project, operations and people viewpoints.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
One of our large project teams deadlocked on the subject of data architecture, causing execution paralysis. I met with some of the vocal members and zeroed in on their apprehensions, which they were happy to share on a one-on-one basis. Then I brought the team together to forge a consensus.

Bob Lamendola

Bob Lamendola

Title
General manager, Infrastructure Services

Employer
MindShift Technologies, a Ricoh company

Location
Commack, N.Y.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
In five years, what we consider IT today will be have another name that defines more how the technology is used and less what it is. Employees’ roles will no longer involve virtualizing storage, installing firewalls or configuring SharePoint. IT will instead be focused on data mining, deriving business value and driving process optimization. Although this transition is already underway, the pace will accelerate rapidly as technology continues to unlock data, create knowledge and drive actionable decisions.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
I take a personal approach with each of my employees and adjust my leadership style accordingly. I host group and one-on-one meetings so I can interact with employees at many levels, and I encourage them to work together and work out issues amongst themselves, to build team trust and understanding, before approaching me.

Title you aspire to:
I’ve always envisioned my career extending beyond technology into a business leadership role. I enjoy designing, building and leading teams that share my goals and believe in a winning competitive spirit. I hope to continue to put myself and my team in a position to accept more responsibility for driving business success.

Barbara Latulippe

Barbara Latulippe

Title
Chief data governance officer

Employer
EMC

Location
Hopkinton, Mass.

Emerging technology that has captured your interest:
Mobile. I like to be connected and use my phone to manage everything from home thermostats to data quality dashboards -- and of course my Fitbit. I enjoy technologies that make my life simpler but more informed.

Coolest project:
Big data lake governance, unchartered territory where I have a clean slate to implement the vision. It’s highly visible, a key strategy for all of our executives and focused on the total customer experience. It has challenged the team to truly think outside the box and redefine what data is; our culture is shifting to information assets.

A recent innovative staff idea:
Proposing new data sets based on intelligence learning. The goal is to easily select data assets, bundle them and suggest new data sets based on the combination and similarities of the ones you are ordering. Our goal is collaboration and acceleration of big data value.

Skills you will hire for this year:
Metadata experts, chief data stewards and data scientists. The data lake requires the convergence of data quality, metadata management, governance and mobile device management. We need to develop skills and technologies to accelerate the monetization of data.

Gerry Lewis

Gerry Lewis

Title
Vice president, IT Strategy and Business Development, and chief data officer

Employer
Ascension Information Services

Location
St. Louis

Coolest project:
Implementing beacon technology to help people find their way around a hospital, and for use in patient rooms. As patients enter a hospital, a beacon detects their arrival and they are greeted with a welcome message, a personal itinerary, directions and additional engagement opportunities. In patient rooms, we’re using a mobile technology that automatically launches the appropriate patient record when a physician or nurse enters the room.

Biggest technology disappointment in the past year:
New, wearable form factors. It had huge potential for improved interaction and workflow between healthcare providers and patients. Primary challenges included the stability of hardware, battery life and connectivity. Initial use also presented challenges in maintaining connectivity during streaming, and within a sustainable development environment.

New titles in your IT organization:
Chief data officer, data scientist, chief architect, mobile application development and solutions director, data integration and transformation team lead, enterprise digital architect and data modelers.

Your vendor management strategy:
We have a strategic alliance framework focused on aligning with industry innovation leaders to help foster growth into new, unforeseen markets. We have created screening that determines the quantitative and qualitative criteria necessary for the strategic need.

Aaron Ravi Malick

Aaron Ravi Malick

Title
Vice president of technology

Employer
TXU Energy

Location
Irving, Texas,

A recent innovative staff idea:
To generate trust, enable transparency and improve communication, we’ve developed a series of self-service dashboards that give users real-time, comprehensive views of various programs, project and technology metrics, including data related to financial performance, operational stability, business value creation and service-level achievement.

How are you using reverse-mentoring to learn from younger generations?
Skip-level sessions and monthly manager forums provide venues to discuss ideas with my team. A People Manager forum allows managers to share ideas and information, work together to address team concerns, and challenge the status quo. Bringing ideas forward helps make our workplace stimulating for our multigenerational culture.

A job responsibility you’d like to eliminate:
Monitoring and overseeing technology operations. While maintaining and ensuring a strong foundation is essential to our business, it doesn’t focus on activities that move the needle and generate value for our business teams. Minimizing this responsibility would allow more time to innovate and develop technology solutions that deliver new capabilities.

Pertisth Mankotia

Pertisth Mankotia

Title
CIO

Employer
Sheela Foam

Location
National Capital Region, India

Career highlight:
In 2005, Sheela Foam acquired Joyce Foam, which had five locations in Australia. We migrated that company’s 40-year-old IT system without a single minute of downtime in three months with a three-member team.

Coolest project:
We are a mattress manufacturing company. In India, we don’t have standard-size beds and mattresses, thus the biggest challenge is to have a correct mattress measurement from the customer. We are working on an application that can provide the exact mattress size from a photo of the customer’s bed.

Boldest, most out-on-a-limb prediction for IT:
Life will be on the cloud, and sensor networks (the Internet of Things) will drastically change our world. This sensor network will collect, transmit, analyze and distribute data on a massive scale, and not only bring ease to our daily lives, but also drastically change our manufacturing and service processes.

A job responsibility you’d like to eliminate:
I would like to eliminate day-to-day operational management activities from my job description. I would like to have robust, fully automatic systems in place to take care of everyday running of IT systems and infrastructure.

Lisa S. McCann

Lisa S. McCann

Title
Principal, IT Vision & Enterprise Shared Services, Vanguard

Employer
Vanguard

Location
Malvern, Pa.

Career highlight:
I consider myself an IT professional, but thanks to Vanguard’s rotational culture, I spent time in corporate strategy and launched and led client insight within our marketing organization. As a result, now that I’m back in IT, I better understand the business needs around research, data and analytics, as well as our focus on our clients.

A recent innovative staff idea:
One of the members of my team recently, on his own time, designed a location-based app to help Vanguard employees find offices and rooms while on the go across our multiple, large campuses. It fulfilled a need, and we’re now working on rolling out this app to employees.

A recent example of your personal leadership style:
One of my team members expressed his passion to lead something with great impact across IT. Knowing that learning was also a passion of his, I asked if he’d like to drive our training strategy for IT. His engagement and discretionary effort soared because he was able to impact something he really cares about.

How do you find time to innovate?
We’re making innovation part of every day and experimenting more in dedicated sandbox environments where teams can test new ideas and tools. We also sponsor an IT “ideation” challenge in which employees pitch their ideas both to peers and IT leadership.

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