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CIOs boost their careers doing double duty

Julia King | Sept. 1, 2015
Many CIOs find it exhilarating to take on business functions outside of IT. But CIO-plus roles require a new mindset and trusted deputies.

But with letting go comes watching people on your team make mistakes.“You learn to watch, but to focus more on what the person learned going through [the mistake],” she says. “I’ve become a lot calmer. In the past, I’d be upset by mistakes. Now I look at them as a growth opportunity, a learning. If I tell people what to do, they won’t learn.”

Hackenson has developed what she describes as a methodical process of asking questions of her direct reports, instead of micromanaging. This eventually leads team members to come up with the right answers themselves. “And when they come up with the answer, it’s their idea. I can see their energy and they really take off with it,” she says.

“Most CIOs like to heavy-lift,” she says, “but once you get to this level with all of the other responsibilities, [it’s more] about guiding, giving advice, coaching and mentoring. Mentoring is huge.”

Praveen Chopra started that type of team-building process a little over a year ago, when he took on the role of chief information and transformative innovative environment officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

He admits that it’s a long and lofty title, especially for a former supply-chain manager who describes himself as an “accidental CIO.”

“A few years back I was in supply chain at Home Depot and then moved to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta as chief supply chain officer,” Chopra recalls. “The CIO role came open. Other people at the hospital asked me to accept the CIO role, which I did. And I loved it. I really, really loved it.”

Last year, during the process of interviewing for his current position at Jefferson, Chopra says he and Jefferson CEO Stephen Klasko had a “meeting of the minds.”

“[Klasko] believed healthcare needed to change fundamentally,” Chopra says. “And I believe the healthcare organization of the future will be the one that figures out how to leverage the power of the digital economy in a fundamentally different way.”

Gaining such leverage was Chopra’s overarching goal in completely overhauling Jefferson’s IT organization. “I absolutely have to rely on building a very, very high-performance team,” he says.

One of his first moves was to create a team of eight direct reports and several new titles, including vice president of innovation technology, and vice president of innovation and consumer experience. The goal, he says, is to think about technology innovation “ahead of the curve.”

“We used to wait for something to come out, like iPads, and then go figure out how to support it,” Chopra says. “Now, we want to know all of what’s going on with healthcare and the Internet of Things and start experimenting and figuring out use cases. We have to experiment and try new things.”


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