Within IT departments around the globe, men outnumber women
by a wide margin. However, a significant number of female technology leaders
have risen to the upper ranks of management at some of the world's largest
In its 2017 Women in Technology survey, IT industry group
ISACA noted that only 21% of tech managers are women. In addition, 87% of the
women tech workers surveyed were somewhat or very concerned about the number of
women their industry, and only 8% said they had never experienced gender bias
in the workforce.
Still, not all the news is bad.
At least 10 of the top 50 organizations from the Fortune 500
list had female CIOs. In addition, quite a few more had female CIOs who have
recently moved on to positions of greater power within their organizations.
These women CIOs aren't just maintaining the status quo and
"keeping the lights on." Many are driving innovation at their
organizations with projects focused on digital transformation and harnessing
the power of artificial intelligence. Many are transforming IT from a cost
center into a department that generates substantial revenue for their company.
And several aren't involved only in IT, they serve multiple management roles
and sit on the executive committees that are directing the strategy for their organizations.
Here are 10 women who are CIOs of some of the world's largest
organizations and whose careers and accomplishments are worth note.
Kathy McElligott isn't only the CIO at the fifth largest
company in the world — she also serves as executive vice president and chief
technology officer, giving her overall responsibility for all the tech-related
decisions in the organization. Her employer, McKesson is very well known within
the health care industry as a pharmaceutical distributor and supplier of health
information technology and medical supplies. This isn't McElligott's first CIO
job; she also served as CIO of manufacturing firm Emerson and as CIO of supply
chain for GE Aircraft Engines. She earned her bachelor's of business
administration in computer science at Kent State University and her master's
degree in business management at Xavier University.
Patricia Morrison leads the IT team at a health care company
and wears multiple hats. She is the executive vice president of customer
support services and CIO for Cardinal Health. The company distributes
pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, manufactures medical supplies, and
provides services and consulting to the health care industry. Based in Ohio, it
is number 15 on the Forbes list of largest companies in the world.
Before coming to Cardinal Health, Morrison was an executive
vice president and CIO at Motorola, and she also served in IT leadership roles
at Procter and Gamble, General Electric, Quaker Oats, PepsiCo and Office Depot.
In 2008, she was inducted into the CIO Magazine Hall of Fame, and she has also
received the Fisher-Hopper Prize for Lifetime Achievement in CIO Leadership.
She holds a bachelor of arts in mathematics and statistics, and a bachelor of
science in secondary education. Both degrees are from Miami University in Ohio.
Julie Ray serves as senior vice president and enterprise CIO
for Fannie Mae, the 20th largest company in the world. In addition to
overseeing the organization's technology development and IT infrastructure, she
works to align Fannie Mae's IT infrastructure with current business needs. Ray
is a veteran of the tech industry, having worked in IT leadership at EMC,
Cisco, and AT&T. She holds a bachelor of business administration in
management infrastructure systems and computer science from the University of
North Florida and a master of business administration from Rutgers, the State
University of New Jersey – Brunswick.
As global CIO for JPMorgan Chase, Lori Beer leads a team of
40,000 and oversees a budget of $9 billion at the world's 21st largest
corporation. She was promoted into the position in September 2017 after having
served as CIO of the financial institution's corporate and investment bank
division. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, she worked in IT leadership for the
healthcare company now known as Anthem.
Beer also serves on the company's operating committee, which
is half female and half male. About her appointment as global CIO, JPMorgan
Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wrote, "Lori is an outstanding executive with more
than a decade of senior experience in finance, healthcare, retail, technology,
and information management."
Since November 2011, Cheryl Thomas has served as vice
president and CIO of Valero Energy. Number 37 on the Forbes list, Valero's
website describes the company as "the world's largest independent
petroleum refiner, and a leading marketer, ethanol producer and corporate
Thomas has spent nearly her entire career at Valero, working
for the firm or its predecessor companies since 1984, the year after she
graduated from college. Prior to being named CIO, she held the title of senior
vice president-information services, and she has also served as vice president
of retail operations support and vice president of retail information systems.
She earned her business administration degree in quantitative analysis from
California State University-Fresno.
When Stacey Goodman joined Freddie Mac as CIO in September
2017, she had already spent more than 25 years in IT leadership in the
financial services industry. Most recently, she had served as CIO and chief
operations officer at CIT, and she also held IT management positions at Bank of
America and UBS.
"Stacey is the right leader at the right time to take
our technology and company transformation to the next level," Donald H.
Layton, Freddie Mac chief executive officer, stated in a press release.
"Her strong leadership skills and in-depth knowledge of financial services
technology will enable us to deliver services to our clients and operate our
company as well as the very best financial institutions." Goodman earned
her bachelor's degree at Syracuse University.
Today, Jody Davids is senior vice president and CIO for
PepsiCo, the food and beverage company that is the 44th largest company in the
world. But she got her start as a lowly executive assistant for General
Electric while she was pursuing a music degree. When she saw how much people
were making in the IT department, she set a goal for herself of becoming a
board-level CIO at a Fortune 200 company. She also began taking Fortran
programming classes at GE, which later led to a job as a programmer at Apple.
Davids earned a bachelor's degree and MBA from San Jose State
University, and over the years, she rose through the ranks to become CIO of not
just one Fortune 200 company, but four, including Cardinal Health, Best Buy,
and Agrium, as well as PepsiCo.
The 45th largest company in the world, agricultural giant
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), has an IT department led by Senior Vice
President and CIO Kristy Folkwein, who is also a member of the corporation's
executive council. She joined the firm in 2016 after having served as senior
vice president and CIO of global business services at Dow Corning. Before that,
she was vice president of information technology at chemical company Ashland,
Inc. She earned a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University and an
MBA in finance from the University of Toledo.
Paula Tolliver joined Intel as corporate vice president and
CIO in August 2016, and she also sits on the company's management committee.
Before that she was corporate vice president of business services and CIO at
Dow Chemical. During her time at Intel, she has focused on deepening the
technology firm's investment in analytics and AI. And according to an article
in Forbes, she "has helped drive $350 million in revenue growth in the
sales and marketing channels alone." She also has deep experience in
cybersecurity and speaks on the topic often. Tolliver has a bachelor’s degree
in business information systems and computer science from Ohio University.
Suzette Kent does not work for a Fortune 50 company; however,
as the chief CIO for the federal government, Kent may well be the most visible
woman CIO in the country. President Trump appointed her to the position in
January 2018. Before that, she was a principal of the banking and capital
markets advisory team at financial services firm EY.
As federal CIO, Kent oversees U.S. government IT policy and
leads the Federal CIO Council, which includes the CIOs from various federal
agencies. She also plays a significant role in establishing cybersecurity
policy and defending the government's technology systems from cyberthreats.
Kent earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Louisiana State University.