Balanced Attack Plan

Paul Corning,  Board Member

Paul Corning

Board Member

As head coach of your organization you get to set the game plan.  It is your job, your responsibility, to establish the strategy and tactics across your organization.   Championship teams can win with many different combinations, but rarely do they succeed without achieving a balance of offensive and defensive mindset.  You need to keep your IT team focused on both if you want to win as an organization. In your industry, in your company, with your team, how have you intentionally focused their collective mindset for the best possible outcome?

Example offensive and defensive positions:


Latest malware or security threat, taking action on audit issues

Broad strategy for access and security, CISO leadership, security awareness programs


Current projects, current portfolio, upgrades, break/fix work

Leading business innovation,  Technology strategy, Enterprise Architecture 

Operations & Support

Provisioning, data center management, call resolution

Cloud strategy, data center optimization, minimizing calls, DevOps


Reporting and descriptive analytics, data quality issues

Predictive analytics and machine learning, data governance


Lowest cost, up-time

Agility and scalability


Current players in best position, filling gaps, contracting

Career development, succession planning    

Business Process

Process Improvement, BPM

Digital Transformation

It would be easy to think that we should focus 90% of our mindshare on the current hot technology or solution (offense), but as you can attest the political reality of any IT organization forces a more typically defensive mindset.  Rare is the long-tenured CIO who does not balance innovation and growth with excellence in operations and keeping the systems up and lights on.

There are many moves that you can make that will help achieve the right balance in your team.  It is unlikely that you can focus only on offense, or defense, in any one area of your organization. Budget and staffing issues can make it difficult to carve out an offensive focus but it is a critical dependency for your team's success. For IT to win, you need a balanced game-plan across your organization that you and your leadership team must own.  

Please join us on Wednesday, November 8th for a  member give-back event at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg, where we will help out at a local food bank that serves our community.    

Technology Game of Thrones

Wayne Bulmahn,  Board Member

Wayne Bulmahn

Board Member

Like many of you, I try my best to pursue extracurricular readings focusing on innovation in a variety of industries and disciplines.  I hope to gain new insights into what differentiates the most successful organizations, particularly those who take calculated risks to disrupt their markets and leapfrog their competitors.  Many times, these disruptors are those organizations that find transformative ways to intimately enhance the lives of their customers. 

In an October 2nd Barron's article, the writer talked with Scott Galloway (Professor of Digital Marketing at NYU) about his recent book that addressed this very topic, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.  These organizations are wildly successful and universally acknowledged as the best at what they do, creating huge, unique markets by identifying new opportunities to transform the lives of their customers.

Each of these impressive companies continues to innovate, disrupt and expand following this formula.  But now each is so large that it is difficult to be the best at all they do, especially as the companies start to compete against each other.  The writer equated the situation to Game of Thrones and asked Galloway who would ascend to the Iron Throne.  Galloway felt the winner would be Amazon since they were a notch above the others in continually driving innovation and value for their customers.

The customer innovation lessons from these four companies are compelling. 

To understand how you can leverage this game changing focus for your organization, we invite you to join us for a breakfast discussion on December 7th with Glenn Schneider, Executive Vice President & CIO for Discover Financial Services. Glenn is the 2017 winner of the prestigious CIO of the Year Award from the Executive's Club of Chicago, SIM & AITP as well as a winner of the 2017 CIO 100 award and one of Computerworld's 2017 Premier 100 Technology Leaders.  He will add his insights on Digital Transformation with a Customer-Focused Culture

Specifically, Glenn will discuss how IT must create an ecosystem that continuously delivers an exceptional customer experience, incorporating the latest digital innovations and cognitive technologies.  He will highlight how IT leadership must mobilize the organization to embrace change and focus on the customer at the center.  While the journey is a challenge, it's necessary in order to create the most rewarding and successful customer relationships.

Please join us on December 7th for a great discussion, good food, and an excellent opportunity to network with your peers.  Click here to learn more and register. 

Decision Makers

Jerrold Martin, Board Member

Jerrold Martin,

Board Member

Leading decision makers are on a constant journey looking for opportunities to boost the agility of their organizations by driving innovation and transformation.  As the premier network of Senior IT Leaders, the Chicago Society of Information Management (SIM) invites you to join us at an exclusive invitation only event for CIOs to share their experiences with Artificial Intelligence, Applied/Machine Learning, IoT, 3D Printing and Robotics.   The implementation of these various tools are a way to cut costs and speed up business processes.

SIM Chicago offers a variety of programs for our members to address specific needs. CIOs must respond quickly to attend our invite only CIO breakfast. This exclusive invitation event is an opportunity for CIOs to share their journey from conception and design to implementation and impact at the enterprise level.

The event will be held on Friday October 20, 2017 at Chicago's first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing that fosters connections between local manufacturers, university researchers, and Chicago's entrepreneurial community. The topics will be about the real advances that are being made in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Applied/Machine Learning, IoT, 3D Printing and Robotics. 

Come and explore this interesting innovation space in Chicago at this exclusive invitation only event for CIO's and join our discussion leaders: Jim MacLennan, SVP & CIO IDEX, Michael Kennaugh, VP & CIO - Reinhart Foodservice and Andrew Guzman,  Vice President & CTO for the Americas - HCL. Share and learn what Chicagoland's CIO's are doing in these spaces. We'll have a broad spectrum of perspectives that are shared along their journey. 


7:30am - 8:00am Networking and breakfast

8:00am - 8:10am Welcome and Introduction

8:10am - 8:30am - Opening remarks and topics review

8:30am - 9:45am - CIO Roundtable discussion

10:00am - Adjourn

A Tour of mHub will be available immediately after the event.

Note: This is an exclusive event for CIOs. Space will be limited and reserved for those directly invited, i.e. non-transferable.

Human Helping Human

Don Schmidt, Board Member

Don Schmidt,

Board Member

I was awakened the other morning with the news about a gunman taking horrific liberties on unsuspecting concert goers in Las Vegas; 58 unsuspecting people died and many more were wounded. Just last month hurricanes wreaked havoc on Houston and Puerto Rico. It seems devastation is all around us whether man made or natural. From various news medium one thing that was clear to me for these events is as humans we help other humans in time of need. Whether through natural disaster or an inhumane act of one human to another human, it is important that while we are walking, talking and breathing, we need to be the best person we can be to one another.

One of the many reasons I volunteer time to SIM Chicago is because of our commitment to give back to our community. Recently SIM Chicago hosted a golf tournament helping i.c.stars|*. At the recent SIM Fall Gala, SIM Chicago presented i.c.starsI* with a $40K check to support their mission. SIM Chicago also underwrites a scholarship program that grants a scholarship to a candidate committed to improving the IT community. SIM Chicago also hosts many events that bring the community together for much-needed human interaction.

SIM Chicago is proud to be able to contribute to the human aspect of why we belong to SIM Chicago. SIM Chicago is one of the largest SIM chapters for many reasons. While some may think it is about the technology; it is human helping human. It is how we humans are wired. Free of technology.

On behalf of the entire SIM Chicago Board of Directors, we are thankful to our members and the value you bring to the organization. We are humans helping humans. Let's stay in touch and plan to attend one of our upcoming events.  Our next event is an exclusive CIO invitation-only event on Friday October 20, 2017 at mHub - Chicago's first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing that fosters connections between local manufacturers, university researchers, and Chicago's entrepreneurial community. To find out more about this event, please visit the event page here.

Game Day

Alwin Brunner, Board Member

Alwin Brunner, Board Member

Dear SIM member:

Hopefully you had the opportunity to enjoy the summer, I know I did. At home, we now are back in the school-routine but we look back at a summer with time to enjoy family and friends.

The SIM Chicago program year has also restarted - Thursday's event on innovation hosted at the Bosch Connectory was a great event with lively discussion and mind-share as well as a great way to re-connect with many friends and peers.

The next big SIM opportunity to connect is our Fall Gala, September 21st, where we have planned for a phenomenal evening. The title of the keynote is 'Think like a Champion'. Now, our SIM Chicago 2017/2018 theme is 'Change the game'. Coincidence you may think - not really. Most ideas stem from looking at current business differently, listening to and learning from others and translating your thoughts into actions. If you, like me, are looking at opportunities to help your organizations to change the game, you probably have already learned that that requires you to up your own game as well.

I look forward to learning from coach Jim Fannin about how to 'up my game' and learning from you about what you are doing to 'change the game' for your organizations and yourself.

Having mind-share and dialog suggest that we need to communicate and stay connected. This coincides nicely with our chapter's programs agenda but I thought that I would share some practical tips. Please consider the following practical things to get the most of your SIM membership:

  1. Today, plan the SIM Chicago events in your calendar
  2. Attend our Gala - a very effective and efficient way to connect with peers
  3. Use the networking opportunity before dinner to get acquainted with at least 3 new people
  4. At the gala, get to know the people at your table
  5. After the gala, setup time to re-connect with some of the people you got to know at the gala

This may come across as trivial and you probably feel you were going to do this no matter what. The real message obviously is that our IT Leadership community is strong and continues to be strong due to us all staying connected, sharing thoughts, learning from each other and giving back to the Chicago-land IT community.

I look forward to seeing you at the SIM Chicago Fall Gala, September 21st. Registration is open and can be done by clicking

If you have any questions about the gala, please don't hesitate to contact me or anyone else of our SIM Chicago board:

When the Storms Come

Kevin Rooney, Board Member

Kevin Rooney,

Board Member

As always, summer has quickly passed. Somehow, the earth must be speeding up because these days of sun and sand fade faster with each ensuing lap. We hope that you spent these days with family and friends and that you were able to recharge as we head into the final quarter of 2017 and the kick-off to a new SIM program season. We were fortunate to see many of you at our annual charity golf outing where we were able to raise $40k in support of ic stars. Many of our members also heard the amazing sounds of Santana on a perfect summer evening at Ravinia.

We believe these events strengthen the bond of our SIM community through friendship, learning, and impact. Our SIM community is strong and wide, beyond just the 300 IT thought leaders in Chicago, so I'm sure many of our thoughts are further south in Houston and the surrounding area after the devastating storms and rain from Harvey. The national SIM Foundation is supporting the people of Houston. If you did not already see the direct message from our national organization, information is below for you to help support:

In the midst of the ongoing crisis in Houston as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey, we would like to offer you the opportunity to contribute directly to local Houston mutual aid organizations involved in the relief effort as part of the SIM family. When you make a tax-deductible contribution to the SIM Foundation on behalf of the SIM Houston Chapter, the Chapter will identify qualified recipient organizations that have provided significant support to the Houston region to receive your donations. Your donations to national non-profit aid organizations are appreciated, and this is an additional opportunity to donate to local organizations that are providing critical support to the community.

When the storms come, communities respond, first for relief and then to rebuild, because as leaders we must remain forever optimistic and remind our teams and those around us that the sun will again rise.

Come join us this program year to again be inspired into leading the change that can move us forward. We begin on 9/7 hosted at the 1871 / Bosch Connectory as an all-star panel discusses leading in the age of innovation. Special thanks to SIM member Dennis Boecker, Global IT Innovation Lead at Robert Bosch, for hosting. Mark your calendars for our annual Fall Gala on 9/21 featuring the incredible Jim Fannin who will truly help us have the right mindset to get into the zone.

Thank you again for being a part of such a great community. I look forward to many sun-filled conversations this year and I am thankful for the support from so many of you to help when those storms do come.

Building Community

Kevin D. Rooney, Board Member

Kevin D. Rooney,

Board Member

I hope that all of you had a chance to enjoy the recent Memorial Day weekend. We remember those that served honorably during this time protecting our freedoms. In the broadest sense, the holiday is a time to reflect on those that gave of themselves for their community in order for future generations to reap the rewards of their effort and sacrifice. Reflecting on my own weekend, it was a particularly meaningful and personal holiday. Indulge me as I share three interactions this past weekend with people that know what it means to work to build and protect a community.

My dad served in the Navy on the USS Deliver in the '50s. I had the good fortune to road trip and visit with him this Memorial Day weekend. While his memory is fading, we enjoyed a few moments where we shared stories of his that remain with me today. He seemed surprised at those things that stuck and I was grateful to get a chance to "confess" that I had been listening to him. He taught me about service, integrity, and passion which remain with me to this day.

Also this weekend, a friend from high school reached out to many of us about a particularly memorable and inspirational teacher that had been hospitalized. The authentic, passionate, tell-it-like-it-was, and funny Mr. Brosnahan inspired so many of us to the point where one of his students even immortalized him as a teacher in his best-selling book "Perks of Being a Wallflower". Unfortunately, he passed the other day but the impact he made and the community of life-long learners he inspired was self-evident.

Finally, one of the original founders of SIM reached out to check in as he was inspired by Alwin Brunner's newsletter last week. I have not yet had a chance to meet Dick Dooley but I was grateful to exchange emails and let him know the impact SIM has had on the Chicago community. The vision and dedication to create this community 50 years ago is inspiring and makes us all determined to serve for another 50.

Inspiration. Service. Teaching. Vision. Integrity. These things build community. Why do I share these stories? You see, SIM Chicago is NOT a professional networking association. All that takes is a data subscription with CIO contact information and an event planner. Everyone reading this newsletter is, I'm sure, inundated with such emails. SIM Chicago is instead a community. We have each other's back. It's personal. It's about service and the future. It's why we have 30 volunteer board members and about as many committee members helping to make these connections happen. It's why we have built a life-changing leadership program called RLF. It's why we offer a flex membership to extend the value of SIM to your team. It's why we support STEM scholarships and gave a record $66k in our philanthropic efforts this year.

So take a moment to reflect on our good fortune to stand tall on the shoulders of those that have gone before. And continue to build our community to greater heights by actively engaging and paying it forward. 

We look forward to seeing you on June 6th at the Chicago CIO Executive Leadership Summit where we will together reimagine the future of the enterprise. We will then recognize and celebrate the CIO of the Year with speaker Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO of Mondelez International on June 28th.  Finally, reserve July 31st for the most fun day of the summer as we raise money for i.c.stars at our annual golf outing at White Eagle.

Thank you for being part of this special community. 

How do you attract and retain top IT Talent?

Alwin Brunner,  Board Member

Alwin Brunner

Board Member

Talented people are what drive our technology industry. Good technology talent is in high demand these days. That in itself also brings retention risks for you as an IT leader. We all know the risks of losing top talent, so I won't have to elaborate on that.

As an IT leader, you probably already know what is involved to attract and retain top IT talent..

How do you attract and retain top IT talent? You probably know a lot about that already, but in case you were wondering what I was thinking - here's what I believe matters:

  • A great place to work - culture, space, accessibility
  • A modern and forward-technology strategy
  • A way for people to learn and further their development, both professionally and personally

As an IT leader, these organizational aspects help a great deal with attraction and retention of top IT talent probably, nothing new so far.

But did you know that as a member of SIM-Chicago, you have the opportunity to share the benefits of SIM with your leadership team? Many of these benefits support your attraction and retention strategy when used right. Our organization has done so and it has helped my team develop significantly. Here are some considerations for you:

  • Our program events hit on relevant topics and allow for mind sharing
  • The network you create allows you to connect with peers and accelerate development by learning from experience from others
  • A flex-membership allows you to add seats to program events for your team for discounted fees
  • Our SIM IT Leaders training program, RLF, is a well-established and life-changing learning and training program for upcoming IT leaders

What is the call to action? Here it is:

  • Join the next great events of our chapter - see the for the events calendar
  • Plan your calendar ahead to attend our events
  • Sign up for a flex-membership and nominate IT leaders in your team as flex members
  • If in doubt, ask the attending SIM Chicago board members about how to leverage the benefits better and broader - they will happy to help you with this

I look forward to helping you with this and I look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon!

Summer's Almost Here: What's Cookin'?

Scot Berkey, Board Member

Scot Berkey,

Board Member

Late spring is here and summer is almost upon us.  The flowers are blooming, the lawns need mowing, the evenings grow longer, the patio furniture comes out of storage, golf clubs get cleaned up, Chicago's neighborhood festivals begin, movies begin to be shown in Millennium park, Buckingham Fountain is roaring, the Chicago River bridges let boats pass, and the BBQ grill now gets fired up more often.  And the bugs aren't out yet!  What a great time to be in Chicago.

So other than burgers and brats on the BBQ, what's cookin' with you this spring?   New job?  New friends?  New skills? New resolutions?  Reconnecting with old friends?  Trying something new?  All of the above?  This is a great season to deepen existing relationships, create new relationships, have new experiences, or just go out and have some fun. 

SIM Chicago offers many opportunities to do all of those things, and even though our regular yearly program of events is nearing an end, there are still great events coming up this summer that you won't want to miss.  The premier annual charity SIM Chicago CIO Golf Outing is upcoming, so mark your calendars.  And don't forget the Summer Social at Ravinia.  These are two fantastic and fun opportunities available to you through your SIM Membership that fall in the "all of the above" category.  Other opportunities also abound in Chicago, so we hope that you take advantage of SIM's events as well as other Chicagoland events to keep what you have cookin' in your life spicy and interesting.  I hope to see you all this summer!

How Are Data Analytics and Great Recruiting Similar?

Jane Prugh, Board Member

Jane Prugh,

Board Member

In recruiting, I rely on data to educate both my clients and candidates to identify a good "fit".  With the wide adoption of data analytics, I recognize its importance to the success of effective recruiting.  Whether recruiting as a profession or hiring internally within your organization, utilizing data can help you make the right hiring decision.

Data analytics incorporates a technology-based methodology that takes data and effectively reconstitutes it into essential fact-based information to support decision making. Great recruiting also incorporates a methodology that effectively analyzes essential facts. Neither is easy. Both are required. The objective is to find the most exacting and relevant information to help provide the most precise outcome.

As we access an array of use cases specific to how analytics apply to a problem, we all know that it's not technology alone that provides the answer, but also the interpretation of the analytics to make fact-based decisions. The ability to maximize results and increase the opportunity to find what you're looking for involves the right technology, process and subject matter expertise. What any stakeholder seeks is to find the true essence of the data, and to obtain knowledge from it. Then the results, goals and mission can be truly realized.

When one effectively recruits, transparency is essential. When it comes to recruiting, the definition of "effective" is to understand the wants and needs of both the employer and candidates and honorably work towards a stated and understood common goal. As with data analytics, this requires a clear vetting process, the expertise of the recruiter as a subject matter expert, and technology to keep the information organized.

It is imperative for the recruiter to understand the objective needs of both parties, as well as, the subjective requirements around culture, strategy, market position, preferences, philosophy, and expertise.  What differentiates great recruiting is when the recruiter melds candidate pool analytics to professionally guide the process providing hiring managers, as well as candidates, with real transparency.

Sometimes, even with great recruiting, clients decide not to hire or candidates decide not to take proffered positions. While the ultimate goal is to find the right fit, an aspect of this is the identification of non-fits, even if the decision is unilateral. When the best data is gathered, facts are effectively analyzed and transparency is offered, then the right hiring decisions are made.

How are you using data to vet candidates in your recruiting and interviewing process?  Are you screening for the most relevant information to ensure a good "fit"?  Before you begin your search for a new team member, have you identified the needs - both technical and subjective?  Have you defined the culture so you know when someone is a fit?  Take the time to use specific data to hire and onboard new team members.  With careful attention to data analytics, retention and productivity will certainly be positively impacted.  A benefit of SIM Chicago membership is that we have access to great talent and knowledge to expedite that process.  The networking, collaboration, speakers, and events at SIM all contribute to the data and decision-making needed in the recruiting and hiring process.