New SIM Chicago CIO Welcome Program

 Gail Holmberg,   Board Member

Gail Holmberg,

Board Member

Chicago has a vibrant technology scene but getting connected as a "new to Chicago" CIO can be a bit daunting. SIM-Chicago has established a new CIO Welcome Program to welcome CIOs new to the Chicago area and help them get connected locally. We are looking for SIM CIO members to serve as a SIM-Chicago Ambassador and welcome a new CIO to our great area. We will do our best to match based on location. Your commitment is to meet with them one-on-one at least twice during the upcoming year and bring them to a SIM-Chicago event as our guest. In between you can share networking opportunities and be available to answer any local questions. The idea is to be a trusted resource to connect Chicagoland CIO colleagues to business technology leadership events and venues, local vendors, etc. Feel free to branch out with recommendations on great restaurants, sporting and arts events, summer festivals, etc. We are also asking all SIM members to let us know if they are aware of CIOs moving to the area. I am coordinating the subcommittee for this program and my fellow sub-committee members are Simona Rollinson CIO at Clayco and Laszlo Gonc, Managing Partner, Next Era Transformation Group. Feel free to contact me at

And while I have your attention, renew your SIM membership here before the end of the year and use the promo code EB19 for a 10% early renewal discount (good through 12/31/18). And join us at our breakfast event in Oak Brook on December 13, Cloud and Cancer - A Tale of Two Transformations with John Phillips, EVP and CIO of Briggs Healthcare, by registering here.

How are you evaluating 2018 and planning 2019?

 Tom Behnke,   Board Member

Tom Behnke,

Board Member

For many of us this is the season where we are finalizing our 2018 outcomes and starting to plan our 2019 outcomes. During the Evanta CIO Executive Summit this week, we heard a number of themes that should be influencing how we approach these activities.

These themes started during the opening keynote by Andrew Razeghi. He talked about how creativity is the number one leadership skill. Would you consider this the number one skill for you and your organization? Should it be? But what does creativity mean? For me, it can mean different things in different business situations, but the message was clear around needing to continue to learn and then determining how to apply this knowledge in novel ways. This links to other messages around how we must continue to transform ourselves from "IT leaders" to "business leaders who understand technology." Is it not how we help transform the business with the help of technology that sets us apart as leaders? Seems like creativity to me.

Another challenge comes to mind as we start to wrap up 2018, are we looking through the right lens to judge how the year is going to wrap up and what we are planning on accomplishing in 2019? For me one of those lenses is how are my work experiences, experiences through my network and formal education programs pushing me to learn and apply these learnings in ways that create higher value solutions. It is through organizations such as SIM Chicago and events such as the Evanta CIO Executive Summit that help me achieve this goal. While I used an example from the keynote, I always leave these events with a couple of nuggets that I hope to apply to the problems I am facing. It is through our network, events we attend and the drive to continue to learn that helps continue to transform us from "IT people" to "business leaders who understand technology" as the CEO of ServiceNow shared with us. What nuggets did you take from the last event you attended? Are you able to successfully apply any of those nuggets in ways that created higher value than you would have accomplished otherwise?

For me, success is not only ensuring the business outcomes were delivered but that I accelerated how I personally grew through a desire to keep learning so that I continue to improve and create higher value.   We still have another SIM Chicago breakfast event approaching on Dec 13th at the Clubhouse Oakbrook featuring John Phillips, Sr VP CIO Briggs Healthcare & COO Briggs Homecare talking about Cloud & Cancer - A Tale of Two Transformations. Is there a couple of nuggets that you could take away from spending a few hours over breakfast with your fellow SIM members? I expect to and will be there to continue my journey on how I continue to learn and strive to create higher value. I hope to see you there also and I would challenge you to consider looking at how your personal growth is a key component of your outcomes in 2019.

Thankful for SIM Chicago

 John Svelnis,   Board Member

John Svelnis,

Board Member

Now is the time of year when we take a short break from our busy lives to spend time with family and friends and reflect on what we have to be thankful for, both personally and professionally, before one last end-of-year push. 

I know I am blessed, as I would expect many of you are, with a wonderful group of family and friends, a group I look forward to spending time with over this long weekend. Another thing we have in common to be thankful for, by virtue of the fact you are reading this letter, is SIM Chicago. I have been a SIM member for almost a decade, and board member for three years. I count my participation in SIM Chicago the many things I am thankful for.

  • I am thankful for the chance to see world class speakers such as Retired Admiral, U.S. Navy and former head of NSA, Mike Rogers, speak at our bi-annual Gala events.

  • I am thankful for the opportunity through our SIM Breakfast series to listen to peers openly discuss new ideas or their experience facing the same challenges I face today, what they learned, and how they ultimately found success.

  • I am thankful these breakfasts are held in both the suburbs and downtown so I can attend regardless of where my work finds me in within the metropolitan area.

  • I am thankful for the chance to connect socially with this wonderful network, whether it be at our annual golf event, or the Winter Social and Member Appreciation event coming up in January 2019.

  • I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in efforts that philanthropically support our community and beyond, such as the Feed My Starving Children event earlier this month, where 40+ of our members helped pack enough meals to feed over 100 children for an entire year.

  • I am thankful for the access to the wonderful technology leadership network that form this organization.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and look forward to seeing you at a SIM event soon.


It's Hard to Predict Things, Especially the Future

 John Fisher,   Board Member

John Fisher,

Board Member

Many of you may recognize the quote from Yogi Berra. Many of his famous quotes are malapropisms, but this one is very insightful. Many people try to predict the future, and many people find it's harder than they think. 

I recently heard an episode of "The Leadership Podcast" (Thanks Jim & Jan), which featured predictions from Thomas Frey, the Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute. In many ways, his predictions were more common sense than new ideas. For example, he encouraged leaders to surround themselves with smart people, so they can learn from them, and he also said the important skills learned as a leader come from experience, not textbooks. This bring up another quote from Yogi, "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." 

The one piece of advice that we should all take to heart is that future leaders need to be flexible, adaptable and open to learning new things at a very rapid pace. This is not only good advice, but it reminds us of the value diversity brings to teams. If we are to survive the future, we need to embrace diversity because without it we will struggle with innovation and change. Diversity encourages the search for new information, new perspectives and gives us the ability to make better decisions. Talking with the same kind of people about the same problems is like Einstein's definition of insanity, but if we embrace diversity in thought, experience, culture, gender and ethnicity we have a much better chance of being open to new ideas and achieving those breakthrough innovations that will help us succeed in an uncertain future. 

One great way to experience diversity (in practice rather than theory) is to get out and do something different. On Wednesday, SIM provided an opportunity for a group of us to spend the evening packing meals for those less fortunate than ourselves at the Feed My Starving Children facility in Schaumburg. If you haven't participated, I encourage you to do so. You get to work with people of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, beliefs and ages. People with different backgrounds who all share a common goal of helping people in need. It is always a wonderful and a fun experience and just one of the many advantages of being a SIM member. 

If you are interested in participating in more SIM events, please visit our website and sign up for one of the upcoming events. If you are not a SIM member, please consider joining, and if you are a member, you can get a 10% discount by renewing before December 31st just use the promo code EB19.

Your Network is Your NET WORTH!

 Jane Prugh,   Board Member

Jane Prugh,

Board Member

Networking has become such an overused term and action that I want to share my perspective on it, share how SIM fosters a community of networking, and remind us all of some Best Practices for Networking. 

Networking is the backbone to nearly everything in life. It is how we meet new people and stay connected with those we already know in all areas of our personal and professional lives. However, it is something we have to do intentionally and continually. It is important to remember that networking is a two-way process in which you provide beneficial support to those in your network as well.

SIM Events provide the community for making and maintaining those connections and to learn from those connections. For example, our recent SIM Fall Gala had 250 business and technology leaders in attendance.  What a plethora of networking opportunities!  If you reconnect with two people and meet just two people that will expand into a longer relationship, it's worth it.  Remember they know someone who connects you to someone, and that person knows someone who connects you to someone, and so on.  Your network grows!...

We all likely know the basics of connecting and networking, and sometimes it's nice to have a refresher. Here are a few quick tips that are among my favorites...

1. Plan Ahead - Who Do You Want to Meet?Who is the audience? Review the attendance list. (SIM has a nice way of displaying the attendee list as an option.) Use social media to learn something about them.

2. "Tell Me More" - Make certain that you give the person your complete attention and ask them clarifying questions. A key concept most are not aware of is that the more questions you ask, and the more others talk about themselves, the more they think YOU are interesting!

3. Body language can speak volumes about a person. Learning to master your body language and effectively reading another's body language is helpful to your social interactions. 
Recognize signs of engagement such as head nods, forward leans, and eye contact. Also look for less engaged cues such as leaning back, frowning, or looking away. These may be signs that it's time to change topics or wrap-up the conversation.

4. Always Add Value - Always try to add value; contribute to the conversation or offer assistance. You can help to connect people, share knowledge/experience or offer personal help. Consistently adding value will build a positive reputation.

5. Follow up - Business networking events typically offer just a short time period for speaking with people. A one-time meeting might not make an impact, reconnecting on the conversation or remembering a personal detail will build the relationship over time. Send an email, or invite your new contact for a coffee meeting.

6. Never Eat Alone - (Book by Keith Ferrazzi ) Sharing a meal is an excellent way to get to know someone better and solidify your connections...and it's fun!

Your network is your net worth!

It's not too early to mark your calendar to plan your networking opportunities at 2019 SIM Events

"Oh, the humanity!"

 Paul Corning,    Board Member

Paul Corning,

Board Member

I never cease to be amazed by the challenges projects and programs face achieving the business value that someone used to justify the investment. Strategic technology projects get funded based on changing the way people think and work, yet when those projects are delivered they often fail to drive the people/process changes and never quite achieve the user adoption that is fundamental to the value on which the project was funded.

There are countless articles about the failure rate of technology initiatives but my experience is that technical risk on projects is much lower than the user adoption and people/process change risk. I believe that we long ago reached a tipping point where the greatest challenge on a complex IT project will be the people change and user adoption issues. Even the most advanced and technically challenging work is easier to get right than getting users and executives to change and to use the system and applications as intended.

I think SIM Chicago is similar - that we think about all the events that are held and we attend based on the topics and speakers, but really it is all about the people that are present in the room. Our 300 members are the greatest asset that we offer you, and your decision to show up should be because of who else you know, who you should get to know, or who you can meet that will be in the room.

Our Fall Gala last week brought together 250+ IT executives and professionals, all available and ready for you to meet and add to your network. On Wednesday, November 7th we will join together in Schaumburg to volunteer on behalf of a very worthwhile charity, Feed My Starving Children. Please join us at an upcoming event and get to know more of the SIM Chicago members and peers in your technology community. It is, after all, all about the people.

IT as Short Order Cook vs Business Consultant

 Wayne Bulman,    Board Member

Wayne Bulman,

Board Member

Does your organization treat IT like a short order cook instead of a valued business consultant? Are you concerned about the spread of "shadow" IT and aggressively look for ways to stop or throttle it? Are business teams avoiding IT because they feel IT will just say "No?" Do your teams complain about not having a seat at the table when business decisions are made and wonder why? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it's time for a culture shift in IT. 

Rather than IT controlling and dictating how technology is used, enable your business leaders to decide how limited technology services are best leveraged in the enterprise. Instead of IT telling the business what it can and can't do (i.e. a culture of "No"), define and present choices to the business on how IT is best leveraged, help them to make educated decisions, and fully support the outcomes. 

Rather than stamping out "shadow IT" as an evil within your organization, co-opt and guide it as an extension of IT that is embedded within the business. In short, transform IT from just order takers into sought after advisors or business consultants. This was just one of the key lessons learned from a discussion at SIM's recent CIO Breakfast Roundtable on the "Evolving Role of The CIO to Help Drive Business Transformation." 

This message of IT cultural change was also echoed this past Tuesday evening by our keynote speaker for SIM's Fall Gala at the Union League Club. 250 leaders in the IT industry had the pleasure of hearing retired Admiral Mike Rogers (former head of the NSA and US Cyber Command) discuss ways to best address the risks and challenges confronting today's IT organizations. 

His discussion was engaging and the insights he shared from during his career journey were so applicable for all of us. Among the many gems he left me with was his re-enforcement of the theme above from the CIO Roundtable - IT as Business Consultant. IT needs to champion a culture change and shift how it engages with the business. IT needs to reach out and enlist business teams as an extension of IT to help identify the organization's most critical assets and processes as well as identifying potential risks to these business dependencies. 

IT then needs to communicate these risks to business leaders in terms they understand. We need to present them with clear choices on mitigation solutions and potential impacts to their business operations. In other words, IT needs to transform into a business consulting role: Listen, help identify needs, discuss options to address, support the decision, execute.

Throughout the year, SIM-Chicago presents a rich variety of programs to help support CIOs and their teams to help enable business transformation and growth. We also provide a setting for you to engage with peers, build a stronger IT network in Chicago, and find ways to give back to our community. 

Take a look our upcoming SIM Events Schedule and take advantage of an event to gain some helpful insights, build your network, and help give back to our Chicago communities.

Community Outreach

 George Wang PMP,   Board Member

George Wang PMP,

Board Member

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the SIM National Leadership Summit right here in Rosemont IL where we had SIM board members from 35 different chapters convene, share and collaborate with each other. Discussions focused on how we further support and promote three core benefits of the association for business technology leaders:

  • Networking

  • Professional Development

  • Community Outreach

I've been a SIM Chicago board member since 2012, volunteering first with the programs committee and now am responsible for membership referrals. With about 300 SIM members in the Chicago chapter, we have a strong network of technology professionals from various company sizes and industries. Our programs committee has created a solid lineup of monthly events in different locations and times (breakfast and dinners) offering a great opportunity to meet someone new and learn something from our speakers and each other. From a professional development perspective, the SIM Regional Leadership Forum (RLF) is one of the finest senior leadership development programs that your organization can offer to your employees -- each year the RLF demand and class size has been increasing with our current class at 60+, the largest cohort-to-date.

Today however I want to spend some time on the third area... community outreach. With work and family consuming most of our time, I hope that each of you will find time to give back and help with the community. There are many venues and ways to do this and so I wanted to share with you three thoughts where you can make a difference.


Many of you know that I am involved as a mentor and committee volunteer with another organization that SIM has a longtime relationship and raises funds each year through our annual SIM golf charity event. The organization is and provides a 16 week training "bootcamp" for disadvantaged adults interested in a STEM career, paired with corporate sponsors that provide job opportunities. You may have heard of the ICStars "High Tea" where it only takes a hour of your time to share your personal story or advice. Not only will you have an opportunity to inspire others, but you will also be inspired by the students in this program. They are genuinely curious and ask great questions. High tea is at 4PM every day and you can sign-up directly on their website:


Have you had a great leader or mentor in your own career? Why not give back and be a mentor for someone else? Although mentoring someone at your company would seem natural and convenient, consider also being a mentor through a professional organization, religious group, or academic institution. For example, the Chicago Project Management Institute (PMI) has a great mentoring program where you meet only 3 times (kickoff, mid-point, final presentation) during the mentorship period. For more information:


Finally on November 7th, SIM Chicago chapter will be back for our second year at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg where we will pack food for starving children. This is a fun, team-based food packing event where volunteers have a hour to pack as many food packs as possible in a human assembly line fashion. What a great way to make a difference! Please register here:

So there you have it, three practical community outreach ways to make a personal difference!

Please don't miss our upcoming SIM Fall Gala October 16th at the Chicago Union League Club where you will hear retired US Navy Admiral Michael Rogers speak about technology leadership and innovation.

Also as 2019 is around the corner, don't forget to renew NOW for 2019 before December 31st and use promo code : EB19 for an 10% early bird renewal discount!

The Power of Your Network

  Don Schimdt ,  Board Member

Don Schimdt,

Board Member

Mark Griesbaum mentioned in last week's newsletter about getting uncomfortable to be successful and about the importance of networking.

In 2014, I started on a multi-year journey executing a business-driven strategy to transition all IT business systems and their support from internal resources (technology and human) to a cloud-first, managed services IT solution. Talk about being uncomfortable! The cloud was an emerging technology back then, and continues to mature today. There were not many companies making such a commitment to jump to the cloud at the time. And the company was never on the bleeding edge of technology. As a matter of fact, we were replacing some rather ancient technology.

I knew when the journey started I could either jump ship like many others within the IT organization did. Or I could see it through and have a great success story to tell at the end of the journey. I chose to see it through. Recently I completed the transition. And while I learned all about the business and built many important relationships with employees, suppliers and customers, the journey was uncomfortable at times; but extremely successful! I am now relying on the power of my network to present my next success journey.

In 2008, I joined SIM Chicago. I have been an active member in the organization as well as a board member. Many of the relationships I developed through SIM Chicago came in handy during the cloud-first journey. What I did not know was that I could reach out to several SIM Chicago members within the network to bounce ideas, learn about industry best practices or simply to check my sanity. Developing and nurturing relationships plays a key role in my success strategy. My experiences are an excellent example of power of networking and a great success story! If you are interested in hearing more about this cloud journey and success story feel free to reach out to me.

The SIM Chicago Fall Gala is just around the corner. Plan to spend an evening with many of your colleagues, myself included, as well as spending an evening with Mike Rogers. Mike is a retired Admiral, US Navy. Mike will share lessons he learned during his 37 years in various leadership roles; most recently head of the National Security Agency (NSA). Click here to register for an evening of learning and relationships.

I hope to see you at the Gala!

Developing our next generation of leaders

  Mark Griesbaum ,   Board Member

Mark Griesbaum,

Board Member

Over this past year, I've written SIM Newsletters about the idea of "Getting UNCOMFORTABLE to be Successful", and about the importance of "Networking". 

This year my message to all our SIM Chicago Chapter members is about developing our next generation of leaders. It is our responsibility to provide the experiences, coaching and mentoring to our "High Potential" staff so that they can help us solve even more complex business issues that will face all of us in the near and distant future. Technology is used by every single worker across the world today. Tell me who can now do their job without technology? Nobody! The world depends on technology and figuring out how to continue to improve the operations of their company which will in turn provide the best products and services to their customers.

This will take strong leaders within IT and the business working hand-in-hand to figure this out for their particular organization. It is all of our responsibility to develop the talent and leadership that will be prepared for the future. 

I can think of no better investment in your high potential staff, but the experience they will gain from the SIM RLF Leadership Program. There are now over 5,000 graduates of the Program across the country over the past 25 years. This year we had our largest class in the Midwest Forum with a total of 52 people thanks to our Chicago Chapter's support. Our class had participants from 22 companies across 9 Midwest and eastern states. Our class also is very diverse with 37% women, and more than 1/3rd being born outside the U.S. This diversity is very beneficial to the learning these individuals are afforded, and hopefully indicates the diversity within your own teams. 

This opportunity is providing each person with 51 peers whom they can now "network" with for the remainder of their careers. Each peer has provided them with incredible and valuable insights into their strengths and areas for improvement as they seek to become stronger leaders in business and family life. 

Our next Class will begin in March, 2019 through October. It will be held at the Lincolnshire Marriott this next program year. Please consider sending one of your leaders to this Program. 

 You can learn more about the Program at: 

The RLF Program is a Life Changing Experience!!