220 für #CIO2020 – Christoph Heidler

by Annecilla Sampt

Über 220 CIOs und Top IT-Manager (m/w) aus dem DACH-Raum sind im Rennen um die prestigeträchtige Auszeichnung CIO OF THE DECADE. Eine Initiative von Confare und EY in Zusammenarbeit mit Superevent.

In dieser Blog-Reihe stellen wir unterschiedliche Persönlichkeiten vor, die für den Award nominiert sind.

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Christoph Heidler
SGS Group Management Ltd. | CIO/IT-Manager seit 2006

Bisherige Stationen:
– CIO & Member of the Management Board | SGS
– CIO | CompuGroup Medical SE
– Vice President Global Infrastructure Services & Member of the Management Board | Schindler Informatik AG
– Head of Global IT Infrastructure | HeidelbergCement
– IT Director EMEA/ Manager HRIS EMEA & ASIA | Johnson Controls
– Technical Account Manager EMEA/System Manager | Henkel

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What are the most important factors for success as a CIO?

I think there are three factors that are essential for success as a CIO:

Firstly, building a high-performance team who understands business requirements and can translate those requirements into technology solutions. Secondly it is the ability to support business enhancement and help the business to meets their targets and thirdly to win the business and executive support for your strategy and roadmap – You can be the greatest technician or strategist but without winning management support and trust, you can’t change much.

In your opinion, what are the most important tasks of the CIO? Have these changed in the last decade?

Yes, they have changed. The most important tasks are now to win, if not excite the business and drive innovation. You must create a clear strategy, budget outlook and roadmap that are based on business value. You must proof, that you can drive innovation of business services. Like in the past, you have to control the infrastructure, guarantee operations and optimize cost in consolidation and harmonization but more than ever, you have to be a very strong and innovative business partner.

I believe that the most significant change in the last decade is the transition in the CIO position: our tasks are less focused on technology and infrastructure and more driven by business decision, process and cost discussion. IT is now seen as a the innovative enabler of business services.

How do you see the tension between business and IT? Has the relationship changed?

We are closely collaborating with the business.  Today, we play more a role of an enabler than cost center and bring innovation, costs saving and competitiveness. I’m involved in all major business decisions, including acquisitions and significant investments in new services or service transition.

The innovation spirit drives us as we invent a new service every day. Therefore, we believe in inspiring and empowering people. We invested in a global innovation process and are running innovation campaigns to foster an innovation culture, down to every employee. The resulting innovation projects are mostly technology projects in which IT provides the internal consultancy and solutions.

What do you see as your greatest achievements in the last 10 years?

Becoming a CIO, becoming a board member, have been the most significant career achievements in my last 10 years. For many years, I had built my international career in enterprise corporations on harmonization, consolidation, standardization but over the last 5-6 years transitioned into a trusted business enabler. In SGS, we succeeded to win business and management support to run a radical transformation program. The IT department is now seen as a technology innovator supporting the business. We bring new and innovative solutions. One very visible example is, that SGS is one of the fastest, if not the fastest adopter of cloud technology in the industry. I led the change of IT culture to become the trusted partner for other SGS teams, customers and stakeholders to enable them to reach their targets. Getting recognition for the impact IT is making, is one of my greatest achievements and my recent appointment to the management board reflects this recognition and the growing importance of IT within SGS, as well as the impact brought by our IT organization. The appointment brings the CIO position even closer to the business and allows more influence.

How do you shape the role as a leader and talent manager?

From a leadership perspective, I personally see myself as a coach to my direct reports. I prefer empowering teams and individuals over taking a directive leadership style. This type of team management is something that I also convey to my management team to build responsibility and trust on each hierarchical level. I believe that when people feel trusted and empowered, it creates commitment towards the company and its objectives.

Today, we must hire very different people to drive the innovation spirit. More have to be an entrepreneur, not only great in technology. I want a team that feels being part of a big thing going on, following a manager that walks the talk.

What skills should you bring to become a CIO career?

You must be a winning personality to convince people to walk that extra mile, to bring enthusiasm and trust. Being a CIO is a merge of being a manager, a leader, an innovator and a communicator.
You must develop and share a convincing strategy and realistic roadmap. To bring the best of the CIO position, you must keep in mind the values of the company and the business target. I share SGS values – innovation, integrity, passion and entrepreneurialism: those values drive me towards our goals.

What does the CIO OF THE DECADE award mean for you personally?

Being nominated to the CIO OF THE DECADE award means public recognition of achievements for my team in SGS and myself. I would share the award with my team, so they feel proud about the achievement, that would not have been possible without their contribution and dedication.

Wir wünschen Christoph Heidler und allen Nominierten viel Erfolg!

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