Get to know the Premier 100 Class of 2017

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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Raied N. Stanley

Raied N. Stanley

Title
Vice president, IT

Employer
Metropolitan Utilities District

Location
Omaha, Neb.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
Hardware authentication. The inadequacies of usernames and passwords are well known. One method is to bake authentication into a user’s hardware.

Coolest current project:
A customer self-service portal. Today’s customers expect 24/7 customer service from our utility, from starting or stopping service, getting a billing question answered or making an enrollment request in any of our energy-efficiency programs. Self-service is the only reliable and cost-effective means of meeting this demand without the active presence of dedicated call-center personnel.

An innovative staff idea:
Linking our GPS tracking application to our dispatch application via SAP Process Orchestration as the middleware.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
Customer experience clouds will become core business engines. A customer experience cloud is a suite of applications that helps businesses manage the customer journey from start to finish. Most customer experience clouds provide integrated functionality for marketing, sales, service and, in some cases, e-commerce.

Biggest tech disappointment?
Google Plus

New titles in your IT organization:
Director of information security and director of analytics.

Alan A. Stukalsky

Alan A. Stukalsky

Title
Chief digital officer

Employer
Randstad North America

Location
Atlanta

Coolest current project:
Our Tech and Touch initiative. The biggest values our employees bring are relationship-building and decision-making, and through this initiative, we use technology to give employees more time to concentrate on these roles. As a result, we’re incorporating new technology innovations and business models that streamline processes for employees, including video interviewing, online referral platforms and online scheduling platforms.

Personal leadership style?
I am a passionate, calm and assertive leader who focuses on developing leaders and teams to drive business value.

What’s the most important task you’ve delegated this year?
I handed our IT security focus to the senior vice president of IT applications, so we can develop a more comprehensive security practice that includes new strategies for combating cyberthreats, protecting privacy and more.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We have a dedicated innovation practice that partners with our business teams to introduce differentiating technologies to our business. There are hundreds of new and disrupting technologies in the HR technology market, so we’ve built a process that quickly evaluates those that will have the most impact on our business and explore only the most innovative.

How are you working with startups?
The Randstad Innovation Fund researches and invests in new companies to bring forward the best and brightest new technology companies within each of the primary talent recruitment areas. Each company is evaluated through a formal process that includes financial and product viability, piloting within the marketplace and benefit to end users.

Read Stukalsky's full profile.

Ramakrishnan Sudarshanam

Ramakrishnan Sudarshanam

Title
Divisional vice president, IT

Employer
United Breweries

Location
Bangalore, India

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
We are working on the use cases for implementing internet of things technology in our brewery operations and tracking performance of field assets. A pilot project is underway.

Fast ROI project:
A keg-tracking project using RFID technology has achieved the fastest ROI. Using this information, the distribution team could improve collection of empty kegs, resulting in faster turnaround time.

How do you find time to innovate?
I attend key CIO events and participate in panel discussions and roundtables to stay up to date. I have also empowered my team to handle day-to-day operations so I can devote time to evaluating opportunities where technology can be innovatively deployed for business benefits.

How are you working with startups?
I attend startup boot camps whenever possible. We are currently working with two startups.

Mike Sutten

Mike Sutten

Title
Senior vice president and CTO

Employer
Kaiser Permanente

Location
Oakland, Calif.

Career highlight:
Building applications for the nation’s counterterrorism efforts.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
Internet of things technology and the pervasive instrumentation of patients, assets and clinical devices.

Coolest current project:
Remote patient monitoring for diabetes. It integrates mobile monitoring and diagnostics devices with our hospital capabilities, extending clinical care to where the patients live and thrive.

How are you using reverse-mentoring?
I launched a rotation program for recent computer science and engineering graduates. They learn from us while infusing our organization with fresh thinking. Another example is a video series in which the millennial technologists break down terms like “internet of things” into easy-to-digest videos for IT professionals and nontechnical employees.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
In the next five years or so, we’ll see a move toward data democratization. Consumers will take control of their own information, and it will be the choice of the customer to consume or share data about his or her personal health.

Biggest tech disappointment?
Analytics and visualization tools have consistently underdelivered. These tools are promoted as panaceas and are often thinly veiled service contracts hidden behind a perpetual license. Visualization capabilities that do deliver on their promise, such as 3D and augmented reality, have yet to find effective use cases in our environments.

New titles in your IT organization:
Vice president of the cloud services group and chief data officer.

Thomson Thomas

Thomson Thomas

Title
Senior vice president, business systems and technology

Employer
HDFC Standard Life Insurance

Location
Mumbai, India

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
We are currently looking at blockchain, which will bring disruption in the insurance and banking sectors.

Skills you’ll hire for:
Mobile development, cognitive computing, robotics, robotics process automation and application performance management. We would like to mostly train internal staffers for those roles. We would also like to do some fresh hiring to infuse new ideas into the department.

How has your vendor management strategy changed in the past few years?
There is a conscious effort to track not just the large vendors, but also the niche startups. The review rigor for existing partners has increased as we have become more demanding of relationships.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We evaluate new technologies that can give us a competitive edge and also help our distributors and customers.

Sean R. Valcamp

Sean R. Valcamp

Title
Chief information security officer

Employer
Avnet

Location
Phoenix

Personal leadership style?
My leadership style focuses on providing an environment for my team to be successful while still being accountable to their commitments. Respect is a two-way street, and together, we can accomplish so much more.

Skills you’ll hire for:
Our team is embracing new, collaborative ways of delivering IT solutions in a timely manner. We have begun using bimodal IT or an agile development methodology, with IT and business stakeholders continually engaged. We will be looking to grow and develop our team’s skills in this area.

How have you adjusted your risk management strategy to align with the evolving technology landscape?
There is a balance to be maintained between new technology and risk management. The culture of your work environment will dictate this balance. I have steered this culture over the years by listening to what is needed and helping others understand the associated risks. Together, we make good decisions.

How are you working with startups?
We have partnered with Arizona State University to create the Avnet Innovation Lab, which aspiring entrepreneurs use to advance their technology innovations. We also take time to visit venture capital firms and participate in a Shark Tank-type event where each startup company has 15 minutes to present to the Avnet team.

Robin W. Veit

Robin W. Veit

Title
Director, client engineering and operations

Employer
Starz

Location
Englewood, Colo.

Career highlight:
To improve my public speaking skills, I signed up for a program that requires participants to give “TED Talk”-style speeches to an audience of peers and managers at the end of the program. It made such an impact on my confidence and career that I now lead the program.

Coolest current project:
I’m leading the planning of our IT open house. For this event, we invite all Starz employees to visit booths where we describe and demonstrate the services IT provides and discuss technology in general, including consumer technology. We want people to walk away with a better understanding of what technology is available to them, whether in their personal life or at Starz.

An innovative staff idea:
We have a program we call the IT Petting Zoo that gives people a chance to get acquainted with corporate and consumer mobile devices and wearables. Employees can check out a device from the zoo for a week and try it. It’s a fun service we provide to all employees. Not only does this help Starz employees, it furthers our goal of being technology advisers.

New titles in your IT organization:
An automation engineer responsible for ServiceNow administration and automation of processes. As we try to focus more on the business, it’s important to free up engineers’ time to do so. One way of doing this is by automating operational processes where possible.

Personal leadership style?
In addition to managing and motivating my team, it’s also important to help them learn, grow and become more effective in their jobs. Mentoring others is one of the reasons I was drawn to management. I enjoy giving people guidance and opportunities, and I find it rewarding to help them further their capabilities.

Radhika Venkatraman

Radhika Venkatraman

Title
Senior vice president and CIO, network and technology

Employer
Verizon

Location
Basking Ridge, N.J.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
Internet of things. My team is well positioned to support Verizon’s opportunities in IoT through industry partnerships, strategic hiring and continuous experimentation.

How are you using reverse-mentoring?
We recently tested a “cohort-style” internship program, where interns spent 10 weeks learning new technologies and then delivered real-life projects. The interns presented their work to the leadership team. Their candor and feedback yielded key takeaways that enabled future productive engagements in a workplace where four generations of people work together.

Fast ROI project:
Working with business and government agencies, my team built a system that eliminated the need for 2 million call-before-you-dig dispatches for Verizon to mark the ground to show the location of its network on pieces of property. My team leveraged geospatial inventory and predictive analytics for this solution, which saved millions of dollars — 40 times our initial investment in the initiative, in fact.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
My team drives the technology changes necessary to scale our business. Currently, we’re focused on 4G, 5G and SDN by investigating emerging technologies, collaborating with universities and startups, persuading market leaders to invest in promising areas, engaging with standards bodies and partnering with industry leaders around the globe.

How are you working with startups?
We work with several early- and midstage startups in new areas of networking, machine learning and computing to take advantage of innovation in the marketplace and leapfrog traditional incremental approaches. Working with startups allows us to be disruptive while still being part of a large ecosystem.

Craig Walker

Craig Walker

Title
Vice president and global CIO, Shell Downstream

Employer
Shell International Petroleum Co.

Location
London

Career highlight:
My international experience has been invaluable in terms of interacting with people from different cultures around the world. I’ve lived and worked in Europe, Africa, North and South America, and the Middle East. The big learning is actually how much we are all alike, what motivates us and how, when you build the right team, you can achieve business results you didn’t think possible.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
There is no single technology; the perfect storm of mobile, cloud, data analytics, A.I. and IoT is upon us, and things are evolving rapidly. My team’s skill is to derive business value and competitive advantage by bringing these core technologies together in innovative ways. We have to make it easy, enjoyable and rewarding for the consumer to use Shell’s products and services. The possibilities are endless. We have to disrupt or be disrupted; this is vital for our survival as a thriving energy company. It’s an exciting time to be a CIO.

An innovative staff idea:
The use of underwater drones in a swarm to inspect and clean the bottom of shipping vessels when they are unloading. That helps ensure that the ships operate more efficiently, and it helps prevent maintenance problems.

How are you using reverse-mentoring?
I’m a huge advocate of mentoring and use it widely across the organization. I welcome the nonconstrained outlook of recent college graduates and the insights that new hires offer. I also enjoy fireside chats, lunch-and-learn workshops and other forums that enable people to share ideas and offer opinions in a nonthreatening environment. I have learned to listen and encourage that game-changing idea to come forward.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
The CIO will take over from the CFO as the accepted right-hand adviser to the CEO. Companies that don’t have a strong CIO driving a transformational agenda will start to fail.

Melissa J. Ward

Melissa J. Ward

Title
Vice president, IT

Employer
Eurpac Service

Location
Dallas

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
Augmented reality will become mainstream, used for everything from getting product details while shopping to enhancing exercise programs with scenery and equipment. Conducting business meetings via virtual or augmented reality will greatly reduce the need to travel, because people will truly feel as if they are in the other person’s office — right down to shaking hands. Surgeons will be able to conduct virtual robotic operations from across the country or world.

Biggest tech disappointment?
Security tools continue to be challenging. We must strive to find the right balance of privacy and security, and find products that can stay ahead of newly introduced risks. Malware continues to increase in sophistication at a faster rate than security tools evolve. And many companies continue to struggle with cobbled-together security systems rather than a holistic approach.

Personal leadership style?
Open and guiding. I learn as much from my team as they learn from me. I treat them as the experts they are and try to help them by removing roadblocks. I set clear expectations and get out of the way.

Skills you’ll hire for:
Even though these are common in larger organizations, the skills I must add are security and compliance professionals, change management specialists and cloud architects. I expect to train existing employees in these areas.

How has your vendor management strategy changed in the past few years?
We have embraced vendors more fully as partners. Every vendor-client relationship must have a win-win component in order for your company to thrive. Vendors worth having will want to find ways to help your business succeed.

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