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2016 Premier 100: Masters of disruption

Stacy Collett | March 1, 2016
It’s a chaotic world for this year’s honorees, but that’s just how they like it, as they embrace countless ways to spearhead change at their organizations, from shaking up the IT structure to driving technology investment.

Setting the tone for work-life balance

Most of this year's Premier 100 Technology Leaders share a reverence for work-life balance. They try to practice what they preach, and many honorees have come up with unique ways to set the example that it's OK to unplug.

When Beth Drohan, a 30-year veteran at Verizon, notices IT staffers who don't seem to ever have their own time, she encourages them to disconnect. "You have to have work-life balance to be productive at work. You can't let [either] one go off balance for any sustained period of time without losing something on both ends."

She tries to set an example for her team by not sending emails on the weekends.

"People who work for you respond to your emails even when they know they're not time-sensitive. They're trying to do a good job," she says. When she finds herself catching up on email on a Saturday, she tries to hold the messages so they don't go out until Monday. "I think we should all try to do that," she says.

Exelon's Jay Cavalcanto advocates for videoconferencing in lieu of face-to-face meetings. "To me, video is the great equalizer of work-life balance. A 30-minute phone call is far more efficient for me than waiting until we're both in the office," he says. "I don't care if we're doing a one-on-one on a Friday afternoon and you're wearing a sweatshirt and a baseball hat. I care more about looking at you and talking to you and making sure you're not multitasking my phone call." He hasn't won over his entire team yet. "We're trying, but some people still put sticky notes over their laptop cameras," says Cavalcanto.

MediaMath encourages working from home, but maintains a "trust but verify" approach. Each IT tribe has a stand-up meeting every day where team members report what they accomplished the day before and what they're currently working on. "People get weeded out if they aren't toeing the line," says CIO Tom Craig, although he's quick to cut employees some slack if they have a family emergency, such as a sick child. "That [flexibility] pays back in spades," he says.

— Stacy Collett

Leading global change

Francois Estellon, Gardner Denver's CIO and vice president of IT, also knows the challenges of bringing a company into the 21st century. The industrial equipment and technologies manufacturer has quadrupled in size in the past decade, mostly through global acquisitions, but it gave limited attention to business or technology integration. Today, Estellon is in the midst of a major reorganization that brings dozens of siloed regions into a centralized, service-based IT organization.


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