Leading transformative change

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A curious CIO saw a unique opportunity in the transformation of a decentralized organization into a market-oriented, globally operating company.

By Ursula Soritsch-Reiner, CIO, Sulzer

When I was approached three years ago to take on the role of CIO at Sulzer, an industrial technology company that was embarking on a comprehensive transformation, I seized the opportunity.

Why? The IT function at Sulzer was decentralized among five local business units, each IT group of equal status. They worked together only as opportunities arose. The challenge of integrating these separate IT operations into a single function was somewhat daunting.

But the potential for positive change, as the company embarked on a major strategic transformation, was – and still is – tremendous.

An Exciting Challenge

I’m a curious person by nature. I graduated with a degree in economics and then studied philosophy and computer science. That combination made perfect sense for me, as technology is only one part of the business equation. I’m interested in how to make technology work for the company and its end users. It’s the result that is important. The how is nothing more than a means to get there.

I’ve had the opportunity to experience many different aspects of corporate leadership, both in IT and on the business side, from product manager in consumer electronics at Philips to head of IT strategy at Novartis. So, when Sulzer offered me the role of CIO, I was intrigued—it was another opportunity to grow and learn.

In a discussion with the CEO, to whom I report, he described his ambitious plan for transforming Sulzer from a decentralized manufacturing conglomerate to a market-oriented globally operating company. It was clear that all those new global business processes would have to be enabled by IT. To be part of that undertaking from hour zero, as a CIO working alongside the CEO, was a unique and exciting opportunity.

The Allure of the CIO Role

I have always wanted to be a CIO. That may be hard for the typical business executive to understand. After all, IT is a difficult area. When the lights are on, no one pats you on the back.

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