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Greenville Business Magazine

The 2019 SC CIO Awards

Integrated Media Publishing and AcumenIT are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 SC CIO Awards. The awards recognize outstanding South Carolina-based CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, VPs of information technology, IT directors and others. This year's eight winners were announced Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 701 Whaley in Columbia. These distinguished winners were selected by a team of judges who reviewed nominations and scored nominees based on a series of answers. The scores were then averaged and the top recipients determined. Among those winners, one recipient received a CIO Lifetime Achievement Award and two were given Judge's Choice Awards. To see who was honored at this year's SC CIO Awards, turn the page. 


SC CIO Lifetime Achievement Award

Rich Rogers

Prisma Health

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Number of employees at the company: 

32,000

Prior job titles and companies: 

Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Greenville Health System

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Health First, Inc.

Time at current job: 

7 years (GHS: 6 years, Prisma Health: 1 year)


 





These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide? 

The pace of technology change has increased exponentially, but that pace of change will never again be as slow as it is today. As a result, businesses are more agile and must move faster to remain competitive. My advice to coworkers is that if we want to remain viable as a business or in our job, we have to use data and advanced tools to make rapid, informed decisions continuously. It's business and personal survival.

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn't the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings? 

As an example in our industry, the quality and availability of clinical information continues to improve; however, it's just a complementary tool for our physicians who often have years of experience treating patients with similar symptoms. Our physicians also factor in social determinants of a patient to develop an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team? 

There are many types of important skills and positions in an IT department as large as Prisma Health. These positions generally fall into two categories, engineering and application support. I like to hire staff into entry-level positions such as help desk or desktop support, and then we promote from within from there. I look for new hires who are smart, humble and hungry. 

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?

Cybersecurity has become a part of everything we do in IT. Protecting our business and patient information requires a solid layered security architecture, continuous monitoring, regular employee education, and developing a culture of never being satisfied that you have mitigated every potential threat.

What are the ingredients for successful IT governance? 

Engaged, broad stakeholder involvement that encourages spirited debate, but effectively makes decisions that are best for the health system and our patients.

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems? 

These days I spend more time challenging my IT leaders to apply technology to support two key areas: operational efficiency and transitioning to the value-based care model. This often involves applying advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, robotic process automation, machine learning, telemedicine, mobility and interoperability.

Who or what do you turn to when you need help solving a problem or advice? Depending on the challenge, I lean on our incredible physician leaders, executive team members, my network of industry peers and my supportive wife!

How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field? 

I'm a continuous online reader, podcast listener and webinar viewer. On occasion I'll listen to a vendor presentation or attend an industry conference.

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew there was something about them that would determine your path? 

Working for IBM just out of college, I developed an executive compensation program while working in the HR department. It was adopted and gave me an appreciation for this computer stuff.

What's a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up? 

Sometimes people think the CIO job is about managing the technical infrastructure. The reality is that it is more about business and architecture strategy, manpower planning, staff development, IT governance, project planning and execution, and relationship building.

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers? 

Develop the skills that will be in demand at the time you will enter the workforce, investigate internship opportunities for practical experience and learn an industry. Technical skills with industry knowledge positions you for more opportunities and a wider range of growth opportunities. Most importantly, strive to be the best at whatever path you choose!



SC CIO Judge's Choice Award

David Steinour

Furman University

Chief Information Officer

Number of employees at the company: 

1,128

Prior job titles and companies: 

CIO, George Washington University

Time at current job: 

3 years


 

These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?

I am fortunate that the senior leadership at Furman does appreciate the value of data-driven decisions. Part of my charge when I came back to Furman in 2017 was to enable measurable assessment of The Furman Advantage, our ambitious promise to Furman students of an unparalleled, individualized education experience.

In general, fostering an appreciation for the value of data requires communicating a clear vision of organizational objectives, producing a certified set of trusted data relevant to those objectives, and providing guidance in building business processes enabling authentic measurement of success.

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?

Successful IT staff must embrace and be motivated by change. No other profession involves such rapidly evolving skill-set requirements. We need individuals with talent and interest in technology who are quick learners, and who can flourish in an environment that is continually evolving.

I look for staff who are willing to take measured risks for high rewards, who understand IT responsibilities for privacy and security, and who are willing to do whatever it takes to meet goals. I also measure their ability and personality to fit into the organization. This is a very important part of the hiring process.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?

We have state-of-the-art network, email and system protections in place to help manage and enhance information security. Our security team manages events and maintains vigilance for signs of attempts at intrusion or compromise. 

We do recognize, however, that the end user is often a key point of vulnerability in data protection, and IT employees are expected to counsel their customers in appropriate security practices. Users are offered training and security recommendations at various IT touchpoints - during onboarding, when they get a new computer, when they request technical support, and as a part of routine IT professional development. 

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?

IT leaders need the occasional opportunity to take a step back from the hectic pace to be sure operational priorities are properly aligned with strategic goals. Envisioning technology solutions comes naturally to superior IT leaders, with the challenge being to prioritize projects and activities from among a plethora of competing requests.

I periodically schedule half-day strategy retreats for Furman's IT leadership, minimizing interruptions from email and phones. We use the time to reiterate the details of our responsibility toward the institution's core mission, and without thinking about existing divisions in the organization, reassemble what we see as the optimal IT organization. If staffing or programming modifications are needed, we can immediately review our options for improved alignment. 

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn't the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?

All information is data in one form or another. With the rapid advancements of artificial intelligence and the management of “big data,” our role must be to continually evaluate the usefulness of various datasets in moving an organization forward. Our charge is to strategically curate the most relevant information for decision making at any point in time and supply the necessary tools to extract and analyze that information.

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew there was something about them that would determine your path?

I went into the Army National Guard and worked with technology and immediately felt this was what I wanted to do with my career. I have worked in higher education for the past 34 years and have been in leadership positions for 24 years. It has proven to be a great career and choice since nothing we do stays the same. We are forever learning our jobs which creates great challenges and keeps us engaged.



SC CIO Judge's Choice Award

Sandee Sprang

S.C. Workers' Compensation Commission

Director of Technology

Number of employees at the company: 

53

Prior job titles and companies: 

Director of Technology, S.C. Office of the Attorney General

Time at current job: 

4 years

 

These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide?

The best way to convince people is to show them - show them that data, when transformed into information, can make their jobs easier. 

At the Workers' Compensation Commission, we recently completed a significant modernization effort; one of the outcomes of this project was a comprehensive, accurate repository of workplace injury and claim data. Along with this warehouse, we developed a strong data governance strategy to preserve the integrity of the data. Then to help demonstrate the value, we provided tools to visually illustrate different contexts and correlations of the aggregated information. We began with dashboards for basic key performance indicators and allowed our staff's understanding and confidence to build. We are now evolving into a true data-driven organization. 

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?

A can-do attitude, good communication skills, critical thinking and creative adaptability are the key strengths I look for in applicants, followed then by technical ability. If you have a desire to help people, listen to their needs, and can imagine and communicate well in business terms, then the technology part is typically easy. We need people in IT who are creative and resourceful; you don't need to have the answer to every problem, you just need to be able to find it.  

For our business analyst positions, the commission has been very effective in hiring IT staff across other departments. When you can find someone with solid institutional knowledge, the key soft skills and a proven propensity for technology, their technical skills can be developed. We have grown several EDI specialists through this process, and it helps build a great workplace environment. 

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach?

Education, education, education! Data security is paramount in every organization, and the Commission is no exception; we certainly allocate significant resources to ensuring we have enterprise-class security solutions. 

To mitigate the employee vulnerability, we strive to provide frequent and engaging training and communication with our staff including online training. We communicate often with brief emails that highlight the most recent incident as an example. Our goal is not to be occasional - we want threat awareness to be paramount. We want our staff to talk about this casually among themselves because this improves awareness. We want staff to question all emails and calls, and, since the workers' compensation industry is known for its catchy taglines, we encourage them with our own message: “If in doubt, reach out!”

Who or what do you turn to when you need help solving a problem or advice?

I am fortunate to have a husband who works in the same career field, and he is my go-to resource both professionally and personally. But when he's not around, I can easily spend hours searching the internet exploring all aspects of my problem, with a good glass of wine, of course! 

What's a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?

Many people think my job is easy, because I simply manage the technology at a small state agency. Yes, I am responsible for the operations and support of our business systems. But what my job is about is creating a culture of change. It's changing the way people think and do things. I have spent the last three years working with a fabulous team to transform the workers' comp industry in our state and we have truly modernized the business. It has been tremendously challenging and rewarding, but not easy.  

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?

Technology can take you anywhere because it's everywhere! This is a fabulous career field with so many opportunities. You can be a big data analyst, you can be a cloud architect, a social media manager - all jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago. IT is always changing so specialize in an area of technology you like and commit yourself to always learning.


Rufus Jackson

HopeHealth, Inc.

Chief Information Officer

Number of employees at the company: 500+

Prior job title and company: IT Imaging Systems Manager, McLeod Health

Time at current job: 2 years

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team?

The most important skill to have in the IT department is the ability to listen. Understanding the needs of your customer base (internal/external employees, non-employees, customer-facing or not) is vital to the success of your IT department. 

When hiring members of our IT department, I look for two major skills: the ability to communicate effectively and methods toward providing excellent customer service. From a technology skillset perspective, that can be evaluated fairly quickly through your screening process. The ability to provide effective customer service and communicate effectively, in my opinion, vastly outweighs the technical aspects.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach? 

Education by far is the best way to prevent your employees from becoming unwilling accomplices in data breaches. We continuously work with our employees on how to spot the “not normal” request/attempt to acquire information via email, text, general web browsing, etc. With the escalation of ransomware attacks and data breaches across the country, organizations have to take ownership in the training/education of employees in today's world. 

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems? 

Being on the senior leadership team, I am abreast to what our strategic goals are and from there, I'm able to implement technology to help us achieve those goals. Having a great relationship with management does ease the process. They understand that IT is forever changing and the needs along with that. With all the great improvements in technology, I feel you have to invest in IT within your company to survive in today's competitive market.  

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?

The advice I would like to give them is “Move Forward.”� The technology field will always change due to the requirements needed by the consumer (personal or business-related). In an ever-changing world and economy, technology will be the driving force for the change. With that being said, someone will need to be there for support and guidance...and that's our future generation of IT workers.



Marsha Lester

S.C. Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services

Chief Information Officer

Number of employees at the company: 670

Prior job title and company: Assistant IT Director, 

S.C. Treasurer's Office

Time at current job: More than 2 years

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department?

Important skills to have within IT today include cybersecurity skills, analytics and data management skills, and agile or adaptive project management skills. Soft skills such as problem solving, creativity and interpersonal communications are also paramount because they enhance employees' technical skill set and help break down silos by encouraging collaboration within IT, with the business and with external partners (other organizations, vendors, etc.).

How do you stay abreast of current developments in your field? 

I stay abreast by monitoring social media to see what my peers and industry thought leaders are discussing; listening to and learning from fellow employees and co-workers; leveraging vendor expertise; keeping an eye on how millennials are using technology; and through conferences and webinars. 

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems? 

This can be done through developing an IT strategic plan with goals that align to the organization's strategy, getting IT employees out in the field to see how their team's work impacts the field and the organization as a whole, and by shadowing workers in the field to hear the voice of the customer� firsthand, not just through formal requirements.

These days, we can glean a wealth of data from our customers and clients thanks to IT. Still, some companies rely more on older methods, anecdotes, and gut instinct. How do you convince your fellow co-workers to use the kind of data IT can provide? 

Fortunately, my organization supports evidence-based practices and is, therefore, “thirsty� for data and opportunities to make data-driven decisions. IT's challenge is to keep abreast of innovative ways to enable organizational members to easily access and analyze critical data that is targeted to the business's dynamic needs.

What's a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up?

A popular misconception about a CIO position is that it's only about technology when the majority of the work and challenges actually have to do with people, processes, and communications versus technology.



Zach Salvato

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport 

IT Director

Number of employees at the company: 200

Time at current job: 2 years

Although data can be a powerful tool, it also has its limits. What do you do to ensure that data alone isn't the sole factor in decision making? What do you do to make up for its shortcomings?

While data is a great resource in the decision-making process, I would agree that it is not the only reliable factor when making decisions. I would suggest that you need the right leadership in place that knows what to do with the data. The decision also needs to be aligned with the passions, values and priorities of the organization. When it comes to decision-making, much depends on costs and benefits.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach? 

GSP takes a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity, applying as many layers between our data and the potential threat as feasible. We take the same philosophy as the Transportation Security Administration - “If you see something, say something”� - as our employees are most often the closest source to the threat. Because user awareness is a high priority for GPS, we have introduced a product called KnowBe4 to help educate the staff on the importance of security awareness and the important role they play in keeping this organization safe.  

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems?

At GSP we are in the middle of implementing an ERP solution that I believe will redefine the way we make decisions in the future. The reason we are headed in this direction is because GSP has an Executive Leadership Team that is focused on putting together a world-class solution that is focused on the future. We have continued to grow year after year in passenger volume, and we are ahead of our five-year master plan by over 18 months. I would suggest that in the current marketplace if you aren't thinking strategically, you will either be left behind or consumed.

What advice do you have for young boys and girls who have an aptitude for working with computers?

Technology is about people and relationships. I remind my staff often that we work in the technology field, but we are in the people business. The people that travel through GSP are there because they need to get somewhere - to a wedding, to visit a loved one, to a major business deal, to a first encounter with an adopted child. It is our job to help these people reach that destination efficiently.


Harold J. Moore

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Vice President and System CIO

Number of employees at the company: 9,500

Prior job title and company: CIO, Pardee University 

of North Carolina Health Care

Time at current job: 8 years

 

What was the pivotal moment in your life when you discovered an interest in computers and knew there was something about them that would determine your path?

In high school in the early 1980s, I had the opportunity to take my first computer programming class. I had a wonderful teacher who had a casual, but effective, style of teaching this newly created class. I enjoyed the class so much that I decided to take the advanced course during my senior year. 

Our main project was to independently create a “simulation”� game only within the confines of the school computer lab. I recall my teacher being extremely complimentary of my end product. He asked how I managed to get so much done so quickly and produce an interesting and fun end-product. Ironically, I just developed the software “on the fly.”� It just came natural to me without any intense preparation nor stress. Over the summer break, I coded numerous other computer games at home that were even more sophisticated from a graphical perspective. I really enjoyed seeing my creations come to life. 

To further confirm that this was the career path for me, I happened to take a long questionnaire offered to all high school students. The results indicated that computer science would be an excellent fit for me. After these experiences, it became clear to me that I had a natural knack for the field of computer science. 

What are the ingredients for successful IT governance?

The first step is to gain consensus from internal leaders as to the importance of IT governance due to the tremendous value it can bring to the organization. It's important that IT governance maps projects to your organization's strategic/operating business plans. It also involves getting key individuals within the organization to commit their time to making IT governance a priority and success. Thus, we have developed a hierarchy for getting projects evaluated and approved.

We have three tiers which are mostly made up of non-IT individuals. It starts with the initial project requests being electronically submitted by a leader, approved by their VP, and screened by IT. After these initial reviews, the formal approval process begins. First, the appropriate business operational teams vet out the project. If acceptable, then it goes to our IT Steering Committee made up of mostly VPs from most areas of the organization. If the Steering Committee endorses the project, then the last level of review/approval is by the IT Executive Sponsor Committee consisting of the CFO/CAO, COO, CMO and CIO with a few select guest members. All projects are then tracked by IT at a detailed level to effectively manage scope, resources and timelines to ensure success.


David Hamilton Ulmer

S.C. Department of Health and Human Services

Deputy Director and Chief Information Officer

Number of employees at the company: 1,700

Prior job title and company: Senior Executive Partner, Gartner

Time at current job: 2 years

 

What are the most important skills to have in the IT department? How did you go about hiring IT workers or developing those skills in your team? 

The most critical skill is the ability to collaborate effectively. Being a great teammate who is interested in helping others succeed is critical to our success. We look for employees who respect others and who bring skills we need to build out our team. Skills are very important, but an extremely skilled technology resource who cannot partner well is detrimental to our overall success.

What steps does your organization take to make sure that your data remains secure and what advice do you pass down to your employees to keep them from becoming unwitting accomplices in a data breach? 

We won't share information about the countermeasures we employ to protect our data, but we take great care to train our employees on ways to work safely and to recognize threats when they present themselves. We also partner with industry leaders to implement integrated capabilities designed to protect data effectively. Awareness training lasts about two months, so constant reminders and training are essential. 

How do you get your senior IT leaders to think more broadly and strategically about applying technology solutions to business problems? 

We talk about it constantly. Leadership is constantly asked to consider strategic imperatives and to look for ways to apply solutions broadly to achieve greater benefits. It becomes part of the leadership DNA. We also place great value on enterprise architecture as a core business function.

What's a popular misconception about your job that you would like to clear up? 

The CIO today is much more about change leadership than IT. We also spend much of our time on team dynamics and leadership. Also, the successful CIO today has to be a key member of the business leadership team. There are great examples of very successful CIOs who did not come from highly technical backgrounds. Most people think our days are dominated by technical details; while technical competence is important, business awareness, financial acumen and leadership skills are predominant.