Every mid-size company recognizes eventually that they´ve outgrown the ad-hoc, local processes that allowed them to function from the start-up stage. Whether a company stays within a single country or expands globally, there comes a point when the pieces have all gone their own ways and a central hand and guiding strategy becomes necessary.
At Galderma, that realization came eight years ago, when the dermatology specialist brought me in knowing that they had a problem with IT management. Galderma is a relatively young company, formed in 1981 as a joint venture between Nestlé and L´Oréal. It´s on a fast growth path, operating in more than 30 countries from a Paris-based center, and when I arrived, the only consistent technology system they had was e-mail.
See the long term value
My intended role was to develop the central strategy and bring some coherence to the mess. The knowledge of how to do that - my strategic orientation, if you will - wasn´t something that I came into through chance.
I started in the IT field with Bristol-Myers in the UK, where I was lucky enough to work with a few business leaders who valued IT and information asset management, and who could see their long-term strategic value. My conversations with them helped more than anything to instill in me a general understanding of business strategy and the key levers for IT. When you become a CIO, one of the best things you can do to advance your capabilities and your position is to actively seek out business partners like these, particularly those with decision-making capability, and build a relationship.