By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-11-17 Print this article Print

From analytics to retention marketing As executive vice president and CIO of VistaPrint, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based supplier of graphic design and customized print solutions, Wendy Cebula oversees capabilities development, software quality assurance and technology operations for the company. But, until recently she never even thought about becoming a CIO.
"Certainly my profile—both because of my background and age and gender—is not typical of a CIO," Cebula said.
With a background in econometrics and analytics, Cebula feels she was led to a career path where she became a bridge between business units, technology and finance. Holding titles such as database analyst, director of retention marketing and analytics, and vice president of capabilities development, Cebula says shes always been focused on the data and details behind decisions. "In each role, as I became more involved with developing new technology-enabled capabilities, Ive loved the challenge of applying data and technology to solving problems—especially managing the conceptualization and delivery of those solutions and most importantly, enjoying the rush of seeing the business value that those capabilities generate. I love the closed-loop feedback mechanism." From consultant to director of IT strategy Frank Norman, CIO and executive vice president of ActiveHealth Management, a New York-based health management services company, held 12 different positions on his way up the ladder. From multiple technology-focused consulting jobs to running IT strategy at his current company, Norman has spent his entire career in IT. Despite all of his years in IT consulting, he knew he would eventually move in the direction of becoming a CIO. "Ive always noticed that there arent many consultants with gray hair, so I always knew Id be switching to the CIO track at some point. It wasnt until the Aetna offer that I could really see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Norman. Normans career path was rooted primarily in his gut instincts, leading himself into areas that he suspected would bring him success. Ive always had a pretty good knack for anticipating where technology is headed, although Im usually five years ahead of myself. So, I try to get myself positioned in the industries and technologies that are going to grow. Everything else follows." From electrical engineer to automation technology Robert Rosen, CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Md., as well as the former president of Share, the IBM enterprise user group, started his IT career as an electronic engineer in the reliability testing branch of his company. After using CAD-E software as an analysis tool, Rosen moved to make this software available to all of the engineers in his lab. He held six different IT positions before making it to CIO—systems programmer, chief of the CAD/CAM systems group, manager of the CAD/CAM systems group, chief of user services and networking, chief of the automation technology division, and finally a director reporting directly to the CIO—but he didnt always have the CIO position in mind as he moved along his career path. "It was just the next logical step in the progression," Rosen explained. But, after he reached the directorial level, reporting to the CIO, he started looking for his own CIO position. At each step, he followed what he felt was a natural path. "They were all career progressions or jumps to areas where there were potential better opportunities and because I was recruited," said Rosen. From IT to marketing and back again Tony Young, vice president and CIO of Informatica, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of enterprise data integration software and services, has held 10 jobs in his IT career, from IT programmer to engineer, project manager, section manager and director of product management. Although Young started his career in IT, after going back to school to get an MBA, he switched to a marketing career for two years. "I enjoyed my career in marketing, but decided to go back to my roots in IT as I enjoyed the technology," Young said. Young said he always wanted to be CIO, but the title didnt even exist early in his career. "I was always business-oriented and wanted to run a business. A little later in my career, I understood that a CIO truly runs a business within a business so I was able to meet both of my career desires with this role." Young considers himself a conscientious architect of his career path but not completely dependant on it. "Knowing myself, I like to solve problems and enjoy new challenges. I looked for opportunities that could blend these elements together. Ive also looked at companies and that would provide some diversity in my experience. …In each of the career changes I made, the primary reason has been because I didnt see substantial problems that remained for me to solve," said Young. Next Page: Being in the right place at the right time.


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