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Catching Up With I&T Elite 8 2008: Coping With Crisis

Check in with some of last year's Elite 8 honorees to find out what IT leaders have been up to and how their roles may have changed in the past year.

Even the most successful technology executives have been forced to reassess their approaches to managing IT as a result of the financial crisis. I&T finds out what some of last year's Elite 8 honorees have been up to and how their roles may have changed in the past year.

Strengthening Relationships

Charles Cornelio -- Lincoln Financial Group (Radnor, PA)

Charles Cornelio
Earlier this year Charles Cornelio, previously CIO and SVP of shared services, was named EVP and promoted to the role of chief administrative officer (CAO) at Lincoln Financial Group. According to Cornelio, as CAO he is responsible for directing the enterprise services group, which comprises most of the company's enterprisewide functions as well as the supporting infrastructure of talent and systems, including shared services (customer support), information technology and enterprise Web services.

Cornelio says the pressures of the current economic environment have reinforced just how critical IT/business alignment can be. "Throughout 2008 strengthening relationships with our business partners ... was a primary focus of our IT leaders," he relates. "That effort delivered even greater than expected returns when the economic crisis hit and our partners were faced with rethinking their current and planned initiatives."

Long-Term Commitment

Linda Squires -- North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual (Raleigh, N.C.)

Linda Squires
North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual senior executive of operations and information systems Linda Squires has assumed in the past year additional responsibilities in managing the carrier's corporate facilities. "Although not directly related to the IT responsibilities, the same project management skills that one would need to drive an IT initiative are very useful in managing these new projects," she comments.

Squires notes that the economic crisis has caused the carrier to more closely evaluate its IT initiatives, but that its overall direction has not changed. "We made a commitment to a long-term strategic plan, and we continue to work this plan," she says, adding, "How we accomplish this plan has probably changed slightly." She points to an initiative to improve the carrier's customer service management system as an example. "We originally had monies allocated to acquire a packaged solution," she recalls. After working with a consulting firm, however, "Instead of spending $500,000 for a [new] solution, we spent $30,000 for the expertise to show us how our existing tools could be modified to reach the same outcome."

Making a Difference

John Golden -- Formerly with CNA (Chicago)

John Golden
John Golden retired as CIO of CNA after an attempt to climb Mount Everest. Unfortunately, Golden relates, he was denied the chance at a final summit after suffering a minor rib injury during a fall. The climb was filmed by the Discovery Channel and is expected to air in November.

Golden says he concluded his tenure as CIO on terms characteristic of the "great relationship" he has enjoyed with the organization. Currently, he relates, he is working on developing two companies dedicated to physical training and general well-being. "In the course of my climbing journey, I worked with high-end athletes and performance experts, and I'm bringing some of them to Chicago for these endeavors," Golden notes.

In addition he's casting a wider net for opportunities to make a difference outside the corporate world. "I'm in a position in life where I want to do something that makes a big difference in the community," Golden says.

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