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CIO Steve McManama: Why IT has to change how it recruits talent

Mary K. Pratt | Aug. 27, 2013
He talks about the importance of diversity in IT and other topics crucial to CIOs today.

As an IT executive at a global company, Steve McManama says he's keenly aware of the need for an IT team that's not just talented, but diverse, too. McManama is vice president of global shared services and CIO at Covidien, a $10 billion global healthcare products maker. His tenure with the company dates back to 1981, and his other roles there include serving as the executive sponsor of Covidien's Women in Technology (WIT) program and sitting on the company's Executive Steering Committee of Diversity & Inclusion. Here McManama talks about the importance of diversity in IT and other topics crucial to CIOs today.


Steve McManama

Are you ever completely unplugged? I spend a good amount of time on the beach reading, and I try not to have any technology near me at that time, although I do use a Kindle.

If you weren't in IT, what would you do? I would probably be a teacher or a coach. I do a lot of mentoring with kids.

What's the best advice you've ever received? It's important to be assertive; don't wait for anyone to say, "Come on." It's up to you. You've also got to sell yourself.

What are your favorite nonwork activities? Tennis, swimming, reading and spending time with family.

Why sponsor the Women in Technology program? I wanted to show Covidien's commitment to fostering a diverse workforce where everyone can reach their full potential. This is a global network, and we bring together employees across regions and across the globe. Having said that, it's a new network -- it's less than six months old. So right now it's awareness, what we can do, what we hope to do, what we're planning on doing.

And beyond that? What I hope to do is create a very level playing field in the area of recruiting from a diversity perspective and from a female perspective. And I hope in the next couple of years we do a better job at developing a much more diverse leadership organization within my IS organization.

Isn't it enough to have IT workers with strong tech and business skills? First off, people who work in my organisation have to be technically skilled and competent. But it's equally important, if not more important, that they understand the business and can partner with the business. The technology world is moving fast, and the healthcare landscape is changing rapidly, and we need to [keep up]. A diverse organization is going to help us get there.

What are the biggest challenges to creating a diverse IT workforce today? The first challenge is finding the right talent, and we as an organisation have had to reconsider how we approach recruiting and not rely just on what's worked in the past. Historically, IT organizations have hired to fill a specific need. We can't continue to do that to get the right talent. We also need people who have the talent and potential to grow versus just the specific technical skill we need. And once we're recruiting that talent, we have to ensure that they have the tools, resources and training to grow. We have to make talent development a priority within our organization more than we have in the past.


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