Get to know the Premier 100 Class of 2017

The annual Computerworld Premier 100 awards shine a spotlight on individuals who have had a positive impact on their organization through technology.

graduates in silhouette with sun setting behind them
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Meet the 2017 class of Premier 100 Technology Leaders! Our annual awards program recognizes 100 women and men who have raised the stakes in IT. And this year’s honorees are proof that, more often than ever before, today’s tech leaders are orchestrating a wide variety of complex integration projects, cutting-edge technology rollouts and new business strategies — all while building highly skilled teams that can pivot with shifting business needs.

Read short profiles of each leader, where they answer questions on everything from their boldest predictions about the future of IT to the most innovative new staff idea. Many also discuss their coolest projects, or the initiative that delivered the fastest return on investment. The interests and expertise of this year’s honorees run the gamut from artificial intelligence to mobile apps to data visualization, but they have at least one thing in common: A natural curiosity about technology.

Dimitris K. Agrafiotis

Dimitris K. Agrafiotis

Title
Chief data officer and head of technology products

Employer
Covance

Location
Princeton, N.J.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
Biosensors and wearable technologies that enable continuous capture and monitoring of patient data. We have several ongoing initiatives exploring the scientific, operational and regulatory implications of using mobile health technologies in clinical trials.

An innovative staff idea:
A novel self-organizing fragment assembly algorithm for next-generation sequencing. Innovation comes from hiring, nurturing and inspiring elite talent, which I consider my highest priority as a leader.

How are you using reverse-mentoring?
Our team makes extensive use of internal social media such as Yammer and Confluence, where we post everything from the latest developments in software technology to science articles and relevant business news. We hire people with exceptional academic training and diverse experiences, interests and skills, who keep pace with technology and share their knowledge freely with one another.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
Enterprise IT will be fully outsourced and every system will move entirely to the cloud.

New titles in your IT organization:
Data scientist, data engineer and software engineer.

Peter L. Ambs

Peter L. Ambs

Title
CIO

Employer
City of Albuquerque

Location
Albuquerque, N.M.

Career highlight:
Acting as a turnaround CIO for the city of Albuquerque.

An innovative staff idea:
Continuing to add open data sets to our open data catalog. Recently we’ve added the ability to request and publish Freedom of Information Act requests online.

New titles in your IT organization:
Digital engagement manager responsible for the digital content on city websites and social media.

Personal leadership style?
Participative and inclusive, while maintaining accountability of budget, staff and myself.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
We will prototype and pilot good ideas that show promise of value and return on investment.

How are you working with startups?
We partnered with a local civic tech company, APPCityLife, by creating a portfolio of civic apps for Albuquerque. One example is ABQ RIDE, which provides real-time bus location and route schedule information and has transformed how our citizens receive information about our public transportation system.

Peter K. Anderson

Peter K. Anderson

Title
CIO

Employer
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority

Location
Cleveland

Coolest current project:
We’ve launched an array of mobile apps, including a mobile ticketing app; an Apple Watch app for the public to submit anonymous tips, complaints or pictures; a robust travel app where customers choose their mode of transportation; and a community app in collaboration with the county.

New titles in your IT organization:
IT security engineer and user support architect. We need full-time support to fully establish our IT cybersecurity program and someone to develop and manage a standard architecture for user support for the entire organization since both of these areas are rapidly changing.

Personal leadership style?
Supportive and collaborative, with an open door, willing to listen and consider options and suggestions. I don’t assign work that I’m not willing to do if needed. I’m not worried about who gets the credit; I believe employees are responsible for our success.

How has your vendor management strategy changed in the past few years?
As technology design, implementation and management have changed, our contracting and vendor management had to change. My government procurements changed from no indemnity clauses to a partnership with vendors; they’re investing much more upfront and it makes sense to share that risk.

Read Anderson's full profile.

Matthew B. Arvay

Matthew B. Arvay

Title
CIO

Employer
City of Phoenix

Location
Phoenix (formerly CIO for the city of Virginia Beach, Va.)

Personal leadership style?
I strive to cultivate a learning and collaborative environment throughout the department by utilizing an academic and pragmatic approach. Staffers are encouraged to share personal experiences, ideas and knowledge with peers through various channels of communication, workgroups and Centers of Excellence. This builds relationships throughout the department and develops conversations between staff members with various skillsets.

How have you created work/life balance?
It’s difficult at times to create a work/life balance when there are so many projects and needs of the organization. But I have been fortunate to work for some great leaders who constantly remind me that we become less productive when we don’t balance our life between the two. So I really make an effort to plan ahead to do things like spending time with my family and dog, playing sports and doing various outdoor activities. With my recent move to Phoenix, I am picking up trail running and hiking as a new activity and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Sami Ben Jamaa

Sami Ben Jamaa

Title
Senior executive officer and CIO

Employer
Coca-Cola East Japan

Location
Tokyo

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
Augmented reality. Though it isn’t classified as emerging technology, per se, AR rightly integrated with business data and cognitive algorithms would deliver on-the-fly simulated and relevant information of the environment without changing “real data.” It’s a way to link a physical element with a transactional system.

An innovative staff idea:
A device, built using cheap commodity hardware, to be placed inside vending machines and use public transportation (trains, taxis and buses) or consumers’ smartphones to transmit vending data to the cloud.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
The industry will be evaluated more for its intangible capital rather than its physical assets and for its economic knowledge rather than its monetary economics. IT technology will capture these untapped thought processes and map them against complex physical algorithms. The computational power (quantum computing) will be unlimited, with virtual brains running every aspect of human life and solving biomedical problems, and a semi-sentient “intelligence as a service” will be an available commodity.

Timothy C. Birdsall

Timothy C. Birdsall

Title
Senior vice president of information services and chief medical information officer

Employer
Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Location
Goodyear, Ariz.

Career highlight:
The opportunity to become chief medical information officer at Cancer Treatment Centers of America came at a time when we knew that technology would have a big impact on healthcare. But the medical and technology breakthroughs in the past five years have been both impressive and overwhelming. We are now at a point when routine care requires technology because of the amount of information available and the rate of change. It has been an honor to lead what has become a paradigm shift in oncology for the benefit of our medical staff and our patients.

Biggest tech disappointment?
Wearable technology is both a disappointment and an area of great opportunity. The technology isn’t ready to be applied to acute healthcare issues yet. But I do believe that many patients want to integrate real-time application intelligence derived from wearable devices for their health and chronic disease management, rather than relying exclusively on information obtained during periodic physician visits.

Skills you’ll hire for:
Data visualization — understanding how to express terabytes of data in a way that can be understood by clinicians and patients is both science and art. We will be looking to hire new talent and train internal staff in this area of growing demand.

Fast ROI project:
Our company implemented a payer contract management system to identify billing and payment discrepancies. It integrates denials management, underpayment identification and payer contract management in one platform. Within one month, the system delivered on its investment, and after 10 months, it’s exceeding revenue expectations.

Douglas E. Blackwell

Douglas E. Blackwell

Title
Senior vice president and CIO

Employer
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Location
Newark, N.J.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
The internet of things holds great promise for the healthcare industry. With internet-enabled medication dispensaries, we can monitor adherence, for example. Blood pressure monitors, glucose levels, weight management are all now internet-accessible and can connect patients, doctors and health insurers.

Personal leadership style?
I see myself as a collaborative leader, which probably stems from my days working for technology companies. At Horizon, I’ve had to adapt my style to some degree, as is common in any new situation, because each company’s culture is unique.

How has your vendor management strategy changed in the past few years?
We migrated from a staff augmentation model to a managed services model, where we hold vendors accountable for the implementation and delivery of products and services. Service-level agreements are established, with financial penalties for nonperformance and the quality of the services, which has resulted in a significant decrease in our vendor costs.

How do you evaluate emerging technologies?
I serve on an investment advisory board, and I’m a board member for a private startup that Horizon invested in. Both positions allow me to watch what’s happening in the technology space in general and healthcare specifically.

Brett B. Bonner

Brett B. Bonner

Title
Vice president, IT Research and Development

Employer
Kroger

Location
Cincinnati

Career highlight:
Working in IT, I have acquired 24 U.S. patents, which along with their inventions contribute nearly $1 billion per year in profit.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
We have completely deployed a foundational internet of things system and heavily utilize 3D printing. I’m always interested in options, computer vision and image understanding.

Coolest current project:
EDGE is a full-color digital shelf edge for retailers. The shelf features ultra-high-definition resolution and displays contextual information for shoppers and store associates.

An innovative staff idea:
EDGE was additionally enabled as a cloud-capable system.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
Automated programming systems based on artificial intelligence techniques will become an emergent method of programming enterprise systems and will be featured in large, critical deployments.

New titles in your IT organization:
Chief data munger

Daniel Bosman

Daniel Bosman

Title
Managing director and associate vice president

Employer
TD Securities

Location
New York

Career highlight:
Prior to moving to America, during a business trip to the U.S. from the U.K., British Airways canceled my return flight. As an apology they booked me on the Concorde, which started my love affair with aviation and led to my getting a private pilot’s license.

What emerging tech has captured your interest?
3D printing fascinates me, and I think it opens up a lot of opportunities as we think about fantastical things like colonizing Mars over the next century.

Coolest current project:
We are working on a proof-of-concept project that leverages cloud and cognitive technology to help traders better predict and manage their risk during times of market instability in response to developments such as economic announcements, earnings reports and so on.

An innovative staff idea:
TD Securities recently ran an internal Shark Tank-like competition. More than 125 innovative ideas were submitted, including some from our technology teams. I was on the executive advisory team and helped a group of finalists with their pitches. This competition led to many great ideas and highlighted opportunities for innovation.

Boldest prediction for the next 5 years:
Containers and microservices everywhere. As we see Docker grow with support for Windows in upcoming versions, we’ll see a push to the containerization of systems across the enterprise and certainly in financial services.

Gary L. Brantley

Gary L. Brantley

Title
CIO

Employer
DeKalb County School District

Location
Decatur, Ga.

Which emerging technologies have captured your interest?
Next-generation batteries. Our schools are demanding more and more technology every day. As the demands increase, we will be challenged to provide reliable energy to power these devices. Charging mobile technology shouldn’t interrupt the learning day.

Coolest current project:
We are currently implementing a new ERP solution. I am excited to provide better processing, accurate data and a friendly GUI to the employees of the district. They have been working with an antiquated system, and I want to deliver the best to them.

Your personal leadership style?
I consider myself both a servant and a transformational leader. As a servant/leader, I’m able to look at things from the eyes of my customers and staff. I also consider the lessons of the past and realities of the present and the future when making decisions. I am equally a transformational leader. I have the ability to set a vision and motivate my staff to deliver quality and excellence while taking ownership and pride in their work.

What title do you aspire to?
CEO

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