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Treading the CIO to CEO path

Divina Paredes | Sept. 26, 2013
Jonathan Ladd was a customer of Datacom before becoming its group chief executive. On the way to moving from CIO to the vendor side, he worked briefly as an analyst.

Jonathan Ladd was a customer of Datacom before becoming its group chief executive. On the way to moving from CIO to the vendor side, he worked briefly as an analyst.

Ladd had first encountered Datacom, the IT services company of which he is now group CEO, as a customer.

Ladd was then global chief information officer at P&O, and having this perspective as customer and CIO had helped him when he became CEO.

Understanding what and how CIOs buy, how they think and the pressures they face was important for the role, says Ladd. CIOs, he adds, "have to convince CFOs, CEOs and other people in the executive table."

A brief stint with the executive programme of analyst firm Gartner provided additional insights when he took the top role at Datacom.

"My role was to interpret their requirements for research and also to provide advice and mentoring to CIOs of organisations in Australia and New Zealand," says Ladd.

Ladd joined the Datacom board in 2006 and stepped up to the top role when group CEO Michael Browne died of a heart attack in 2010.

He says while having the technology background was useful, he had to leave the technology behind when taking on the CEO mindset. "There is always a temptation to get down and dirty and do the technical stuff, but you have to take a much more strategic view of things... a broader, higher end view."

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As global CIO, Ladd had also spent time on the "strategy side of things - which businesses we want to be in, what do we want to divest, what do we want to acquire."

These activities "outside the IT landscape have given me a common view across the whole of the business from a strategic side which you do not get as a CIO".

Ladd's university degree was in psychology. "In those days, you had to specialise - it was arts or science," he explains. He chose the latter, taking up maths and chemistry.

He went away for a year travelling around Europe and on return opted to continue a degree in psychology. "I enjoyed, I suppose, the logic side of it."

He also did the hard yards in computer programming. "In those days, it was quite a hierarchical route - programming, then analyst, then project management. It was very good training."

 

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