CIO, Landbell Group
– CIO ~ Executive Vice President ~ Director Process and Project Management, Reverse Logistics Group
– Director Process and Process Management ~ Teamlead Project and Quality Management, CCR Logistics Systems AG
– Key Account Manager ~ Project Manager, CCR Deutschland AG
– CIO, LCE Consulting GmbH
– Presales and Product Management, Trilogy Software, Inc.
What are the most important factors for success as a CIO?
In my view, the ability to build bridges is a key success factor for CIOs. In every enterprise, completely justified and naturally, different interests are competing. Without this friction, without the resulting (!) energy, and without the courageous decisions taken in this context, most companies would lack the ability to meet today’s and tomorrow’s demands, especially of global markets. A CIO who, like the systems he is responsible for, thinks only in zeros and ones, will find it difficult to sustainably support this steadily increasing dynamic. The central success factor is thus the continuous and motivating moderation of sometimes conflicting positions and seemingly insurmountable opposites, such as: precision and tolerance, transparency and gut feeling, or technology and entrepreneurship.
In your opinion, what are the most important tasks of the CIO? Have these changed in the last decade?
Too often, the CIO is referred to as the “Head of IT”. This is an oversimplified job description, which only applies in parts, and which continues to change. It has long been recognized that it is not the “code production” alone that generates added value. Surely great technologies and great engineers are a good starting point for that. However, in an increasingly fast-moving world, these will only be able to develop their benefits with the help of scaling structures, efficient methods and excellent communication. If ever he was, the CIO is no longer a technocrat, but a broad entrepreneur who knows how to make the right notes at any time, speedily and in an international context on the keyboard of numerous technical and non-technical success factors. One of the most important tasks of the CIO by far is operating and demanding precise information logistics: The right information must be in the right place at the right time, to be able to sustainably promote business growth through great processes and systems.
How do you see the tension between business and IT? Has the relationship changed?
I think that with good people on both sides this much-cited field of tension should not exist anymore. For me, the term “field of tension” implies a dipole of very different interests, sometimes with less, sometimes more distance from each other. It is very helpful to look at challenges from different perspectives and to build bridges. However, the general distinction between “business” and “IT” falls short because the world has become more diverse, as a result of complex stakeholder structures and increasing speed. Just looking at the dipole “Business” vs. “IT”, I would like to think and hope that both areas strongly overlap with each other, or are widely congruent, and keep moving towards each other, with great respect and deep understanding, for the benefit of many global companies.
What do you see as your greatest achievements in the last 10 years?
For about two decades, I have been working in an industry where global collaboration, process thinking, project management structures, and world-class IT systems have not always been perceived by everybody as a priority asset. In the meantime, the world has changed: waste has become valuable, the concept of the circular economy is a given in international markets, and topics such as sustainability and recycling are on everyone’s lips. I am proud to be among those who have assessed these developments in good time and established suitable growth structures in well-known companies at an early stage. New Circular Economy business models, based on efficient, dynamic and digitized structures, can significantly help the planet recover.
How do you shape the role as a leader and talent manager?
Talents need space to develop their abilities. As a leader, I understand my role in providing them with everything they need to successfully accomplish their tasks. The CIO team is increasingly interdisciplinary. This applies to the training and career of the team members as well as the roles they fill out. Important for sustainable personnel management is the identification of employees with companies and tasks and the respectful interaction with each other as well as of and with executives. Over time, I was often asked how my team’s name was. In view of the developments described above, it was clear that terms such as “IT-guys”, “software engineers” or “development department”, which had been coined for many years, could no longer cope with all the team members involved. It has been proven as helpful and motivating, to call my team the “iTeam”. This in respect and recognition of numerous “i’s”, from information to innovation, from inspiration to intelligence, which are ensured, encouraged and shaped by this team.
What skills should you bring to become a CIO career?
In addition to classical skills such as readiness for change and agility, interdisciplinary understanding, quick comprehension and entrepreneurial thinking, I consider the ability to listen and the readiness for lifelong learning to be essential.
What does the CIO OF THE DECADE award mean for you personally?
It is already a great honor for me to have been nominated. If I actually received the award, that would be completely unexpected for me. Whoever receives it has – like all other nominees – my highest respect for the clearly visible personal recognition, for the personal achievement as well as for the lasting motivation of a world-class team, without which there would have been neither nomination nor a place on the podium.
Wir wünschen Ulf Hallmann und allen Nominierten viel Erfolg!
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