At the time, she adds, she got a great piece of advice from CEO Michael Capellas, who took over from Sidgmore in December 2002: People are always going to question you, regardless of what you do, he said. "You just have to prove them wrong."
Into the Deep End
Chris Hjelm's turning point came soon after resigning as CIO of FedEx in January 2000, when he landed a job as CIO at a Silicon Valley startup called Zoho. (In 2000, Zoho was an online marketplace providing furniture, fixtures and equipment to the hospitality industry; it later sold its name and URL to the current Zoho, which provides cloud-based apps.)
At the startup, Hjelm repeatedly found himself doing tasks that someone else would have handled at FedEx. "I was working on spreadsheets and creating Power-Point presentations to go out and raise money," he says. "FedEx had communications specialists. If you had to do a presentation, you'd work with other people who pulled that together and then you'd go deliver it. In this case, I was all of those." It was like jumping into the deep end of a pool and realizing he had to figure out how to swim, he recalls.
He was equally struck by the extreme dedication of the startup staff, and by their sense of mission. The first Zoho went down in the dotcom bust, and a few jobs later, Hjelm wound up as CIO and senior vice president at The Kroger Co. There, he recently launched an initiative to try to instill that sense of mission from the startup into his IT staff. His team changed the department's name from IS&S — an acronym interpreted differently by different IT employees — to Kroger Technology. They crafted a new mission statement — "To be the most valued technology organization in retail" — and put on a highly successful event to introduce the re-branded department to the rest of Kroger.
"I came out thinking how powerful it is when you get everyone wrapped around one goal," he says. "That's easy in a startup because you're working on one thing. But when you're at a big company, how do you do that so that everyone gets it? That clear sense of purpose is really important, and I think big companies sometimes don't have it because they don't tell that story."
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Career Arroyo is responsible for a global IT organization with over 25,000 technology professionals, 2,900 enterprise applications and 77 data centers in 11 countries. He has been focused on technology's role in enhancing the customer experience, especially at AT&T's 2,300 retail stores, where representatives have tablets that give them access to all the relevant data about each customer they meet. He was previously CIO at Cingular Wireless.
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