CIO finds smooth transition to consulting

Dave Clementz fancies himself a "pathfinder." He says he takes pride in charting new turf. And for most of his 30-year career, Clementz found fertile ground at ChevronTexaco Corp. to plant and cultivate the seeds of transformation and innovation. But in May 2003, Clementz felt that the soil had dried up. After laboring over the integration of the two companies that merged in October 2001, Clementz says he found himself in a spot with nowhere to grow. He says ChevronTexaco's board appointed "some very talented young people" well-positioned to run the company, and "they were perfectly happy to keep me on the ranch, doing what I was doing as CIO," he says of his colleagues at ChevronTexaco. "But it was clear to me that I wasn't going to be doing much else with the farm, so I decided to find another path."

Within a month of announcing his retirement, Clementz set up his own consulting firm, Silver Eagle Partners, in September 2003. (A numismatist, he took the Silver Eagle dollar coin as his consultancy's name.) His first engagement was to help Electronic Data Systems Corp. with its turnaround. (EDS was one of his suppliers at ChevronTexaco.) Three months into the work, Clementz was offered a job as executive vice president of service delivery at the Plano, Texas-based outsourcer. It took him just 24 hours to accept.

Many CIOs in transition start their own consulting gigs as a way to stay engaged with the industry

and expand their experience base -- often with the hopes of finding better professional prospects, says Dan Getman, vice president of recruiting with Sheila Greco Associates. Charlie Feld, the former CIO of Delta Air Lines Inc. and Frito-Lay Inc., whose consulting company the Feld Group was acquired by EDS in January 2004 (and who's now Clementz's colleague); Tracy Austin, CIO of Mandalay Resort Group; and John Reece, former CIO of the IRS, all branched out on their own at one time or another during their careers. But EDS is an interesting choice, given its recent history of layoffs, a US$1.7 billion loss posted in 2003 and an SEC investigation into its contract to build an intranet for the Navy. Clementz downplayed the risks associated with joining the company and cited four reasons for accepting the job offer.

He liked the previews. Consulting gave Clementz an insider's look at precisely what was going on inside EDS. He knew what to expect if he took a job there.

Consulting has its headaches. After decades effecting change on the front lines, giving advice from the sidelines that others could debate and dismiss was a tough adjustment for Clementz. He thought he could be more effective and had a better chance of EDS heeding his advice if he joined the company and had some skin in the game.

He found a kindred spirit. Before Clementz accepted the EDS offer, he asked with whom he'd be working. EDS introduced Clementz to Feld. Clementz says meeting with Feld was like hanging out with a best friend. "He was finishing my sentences, and I was finishing his. We had been traveling on separate journeys for 30 years, but our journeys were very similar," says Clementz. Meeting Feld was the clincher for Clementz. Had Feld's team not been involved at EDS, Clementz says he would have had misgivings about taking the job.

He relished a new challenge. "This is what I do," thought Clementz as he mulled the transformation facing EDS and his decision to join the company. He saw similarities between what EDS was going through and the changes he had helped lead ChevronTexaco through during his three-decade tenure, and he thought he possessed valuable experience. Clementz also says he was motivated by the element of risk inherent in the decision. "There is certainly risk, but it's a calculated risk, and there's a huge upside. I didn't take the assignment thinking I would fail. I took it knowing I would succeed because of the people I'm working with and the firm that I'm a part of," he says.

News of other moves

The Virginia Information Technology Investment Board tapped Lemuel Stewart Jr., president of consultancy Executive Partners, to be state CIO for a five-year contract. He will oversee a $500 million annual IT budget. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Foyt Ralston, the state Technology Office chief of staff, to be acting CIO. Ralston succeeds Kimberly Bahrami, who resigned as CIO in February and returned to the private sector. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft tapped Greg Jackson, formerly assistant director of the state Department of Administrative Services, to oversee the state's new Office of Information Technology as the state's first cabinet-level CIO. Doug Elkins, Arkansas director of information systems, received a promotion to state CIO. He replaces Carolyn Walton.

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