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The Transformational CIO: Leadership and Innovation Strategies for IT Executives in a Rapidly Changing World by Hunter Muller

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No Illusions

Roberta Kowalishin is the CIO at the Houston Chronicle, the nation's seventh-largest daily paper and the leader in Web technology across Hearst Newspapers. The Chronicle's web site, chron.com, is regarded as one of the top newspaper web sites, receiving more than 75 million page views on average per month.

Like the home mortgage industry and the domestic automobile industry, the newspaper industry has suffered through hard times. Readership and ad revenues have dwindled steadily for years. Dozens of newspapers have already folded; the surviving newspapers face an uncertain future.

The Chronicle's parent company, Hearst Corporation, owns a chain of 15 newspapers. Hearst plans to consolidate the chain's IT services into a unified organization run by a global CIO. Roberta has been tapped for the job, and she harbors few illusions about the difficulties ahead.

We caught up with her recently, and asked her to describe the qualities required to succeed as an IT leader in today's turbulent economy.

“The qualities of good leadership haven't changed over the years. You still have to set the vision and then help the team achieve that vision,” says Roberta. “But what's really different is the time window and the need to deliver results very quickly. We used to make a three-year or a five-year plan. Today, everything changes so rapidly, you don't know what's going to happen next. Everything happens much more quickly. You're forced to make decisions faster. It can be exhausting.” ...

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