When James McPartland took on the CIO role at Torchmark Corporation in 2014, he had a big task before him: Show the rest of the business that IT could help drive growth.
Engaging, retaining and co-creating IT
THE ENTERPRISERS PROJECT: Long-term retention is a huge issue in this high-demand IT market. How do you hold onto star performers?
STODDARD: It’s a challenge, definitely, because it’s a very competitive market right now in a lot of different areas, especially in the Silicon Valley. Interestingly we had a couple of people recently leave the organization, but some of them have come back because the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. That’s been good to see. And it’s been good for the organization to see that folks are coming back.
THE ENTERPRISERS PROJECT: What do you think drew them back to NetApp?
STODDARD: I think they expected something different when they left, and in coming back I think they are returning to what they believe is a more dynamic organization than what they went to. This is a place where they feel they can grow their careers. I really feel that having a voice and being able to contribute to what IT is going to be in the future is very, very powerful, and we practice that here. The whole “co-creation of our future” concept we follow in IT means people can speak up about how we should move to a service mindset, for example, or suggest some simple things we can do to become more productive. And it’s not just sharing your ideas, it’s how we act on them so often times they see their ideas come to life. That’s really powerful.
THE ENTERPRISERS PROJECT: Can you talk a bit more about the co-creating IT idea?
STODDARD: I have this concept when I look at the strategy and how we’re evolving IT- I say we’re co-creating the future. Some organizations tend to be top-down- They say this is the vision, this is the approach and everyone should follow. I like to use the phrase and the techniques of co-creation instead. So ideas can come from all levels of the organization: from my leadership team, from the first-level managers, or from the grass roots of the organization.
Another critical point is that we try to get the whole organization to really have a vision. I think that people operate and feel better in this type of environment because they feel that they can really make a difference. If your people are off wondering what the direction is, it’s harder to focus and really make a contribution.
Cynthia Stoddard is the senior vice president and CIO at NetApp. In her role as CIO, she is responsible for providing a long-term technology vision that supports and is aligned with the company’s strategies and goals, business plans, operating requirements, and overall efficiencies. She has over 25 years of business experience and IT expertise leading large global organizations in supply chain, retail, and technology companies.