posted by Jack Santos
There is a lot of talk about the role of the CIO, the future of the CIO, and whether CIO’s are taken seriously. Hogwash. As leaders, one of the last things we need to do is bellyache about how we “don’t have a seat at the table”. If you want to be at the table, act like you should be.
Along those lines, One of the things I have always tried to do as a CIO and IT leader was balance my work life, home life, and community life. The latter has led me down some interesting paths – like ladling soup at a home less shelter once a month for about 4 years, or chairing the Chambers’ economic development efforts for hi-tech companies.
Many years ago I also was involved in selecting college scholarship recipients for an inner-city scholarship program: The Jacob L and Lewis Fox Foundation (of which I am an alumnus – but that’s another story). For hours I would diligently pour over the high school student apps, rank their responses on key criteria, help with the interviews, and participate in the final selection.
This past Tuesday evening I took a ride back to my “ancestral homeland” (Hartford, CT) and joined the annual Fox Foundation Holiday Dinner – a tradition which I attended religiously, but (sadly) due to schedule and distance it has not been something I have gone to in at least 10 years. My loss.
I had forgotten how invigorating it was to listen to these kids (click here for the current year winners), at such early stages in their lives, yearn for opportunity and learning. It was even more poignant since most of these kids didn’t come from well-to-do families, but were products of an inner city school system in the first minority-majority state capital in the nation.
Besides engrossing conversation with old-timers (former scholars), we were entertained by poetry, dance, and acting performances by this year’s crop of scholars --- and a talented bunch they are. What are they doing with the financial backing the foundation gave them? Attending local schools like UCONN and the University of Hartford as well as Dartmouth, Temple, NYU, Trinity, and others. An impressive lot.
In a time where terrorist attacks are on our mind, religious and racial hatred and bigotry is almost unavoidable, and peace seems like such a foreign concept…it brought tears to my eyes to see our future. Lewis Fox, lawyer, philanthropist, devout Jew, dedicated community member, and founder of the Foundation (in his father’s memory) would have been proud. His legacy continues, and our future as a country is in good hands with these kids.
And for CIO’s concerned about their place in their company – think broader, look in the mirror, and take action. “The table” is a lot bigger than just your company…and the compensation much more heartening.
Happy New Year!