220 für #CIO2020 – Fabrice Keller

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.

Fabrice Keller
GE Power Europe | CIO

Bisherige Stationen:
– Nortel | IT Leader
– Sterling Software | Business Systems Director
– Sun Microsystems | Project Manager


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

We are living in a world that is quickly evolving and becoming more complex. Companies are following the same path requiring CIOs to make fast decisions and solve complex problems on a daily basis. This requires advanced ability to lead and manage Ambiguous situations.

In addition, I believe in team achievement rather than individual recognition. Leaders/managers only exist because of the virtual teams they build and the working environment they create. Achievements are most often due to team spirit. Hence Inclusiveness, excellent relationships and Collaborations skills are necessary to succeed.

Most importantly, however is that you maintain a High Say/Do ratio to accomplish goals. Execution with excellence will always be recognized.

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

Digital business transformation and the use of new technologies requires a new approach to leadership. CIOs might establish themselves as Business leaders first and Technology leaders second and build a Culture that energizes the organization to achieve the digital ambition of our Companies.

The time has expired for legacy code development and ERP upgrades running over schedule and over budget with long deployment cycle-time implementations. CIOs must be close to business pain points and process changes, embrace use of new technologies, and leverage eco-systems for the development of new software/solutions. This to create business value for the entire value chain of companies, and provide recommendations to the Business for new ways of rapid productivity and efficiency gains with Agile and fast works approach.

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

As highlighted earlier, CIOs might become more Business leaders. Separation becomes thinner, and it is even more obvious when we talk about the Chief Digital Officer as it can be an additional responsibility for CIOs. Digitalization and Digitization have changed the mission of CIOs in the last decade as they have to help the company, drive growth by converting traditional businesses to digital ones using the potential of modern online technologies and data.

As leading an Enabling function, we have an opportunity for the broader view of Operations from NPI, Inquiry To Order (ITO), and Order to Remittance (OTR), hence making a difference and giving a competitive advantage to our Company.

In the end, I don’t necessarily see tension, more opportunities of collaboration and to breakdown silos between functions as Digital will be embedded in all core processes of a company through Digital Threads with more integration between Enterprise Standards platforms.

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

I led several mergers and acquisitions in my career, but leading the IT Alstom acquisition for GE Power globally – the largest acquisition in the Energy industry (more specifically in Switzerland) – was a fantastic experience. Gaining a better understanding of what the other company can bring to yours such as competencies, knowledge, expertise, assets, and a different Culture etc. to get the best of the two worlds is definitely a great learning experience.

The acquisition empowered us to influence the deployment of ERP SAP (ie. Alstom ERP) for GE Power globally, leading to a 2016 SAP ERP implementation in Switzerland covering 5,000 users, $6B revenue utilizing the platform and 20% total revenue for the combined Gas & Steam power businesses. All with one single ERP platform to generate Finance efficiency (standard processes, tools, and scalability).

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

Create a stable environment where employees like to work and see career opportunities. Fight status quo – if you fail to realize that the world around us is changing rapidly, you are making a mistake. Invest in and train key talents, recognize key achievements and a shuffle resources because they lack the requisite skills or show exhibited apathy. Develop programs through the use of communication and collaborative events (ie. hackathon) to ensure that all employees embrace the Digital change.

Empower your best talents, and teach them how to fish, not fish for them. Define a vision and a strategy. Set up an entire team and help this team to embrace your Goals & Objectives.

What skills should you bring to become a CIO career?

I always considered that Emotional Intelligence (EI) was more important than Intellectual Quotient (IQ). The ability to deal effectively with emotions — my own and those of others —is a must-have for today’s CIO and other IT professionals. We need to move away from technical skills, extensive expertise of Information Technology and more toward an ability to inspire, motivate and create high-performing teams. Manage our teams with empathy and transparency.

Listen, Analyze, and then Synthetize to influence our business partners with our ability to feel what they need, rather than using technical skills.

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

It is definitely an honor to be recognized by peers and professionals of IT. You know, I have been working for 29 years for the Information Technology function and have been enjoying it every day. I consider myself lucky to work in a domain that is moving fast and can help transform companies radically every decade with computers, then client-server applications, then internet, then Enterprise systems, and now Digital software.

Wir wünschen Fabrice Keller und allen Nominierten viel Erfolg!

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