Feature

Business and Technology Align on the Golf Course

If you don't play golf, maybe that's your handicap.

At Majestic Insurance Co., a $65 million workers' compensation insurance firm in San Francisco, business and technology are aligned on the putting green. CEO John Sullivan, CIO James Woolwine and CFO Jay Stuart regularly tee it up at some of the best private courses in the Bay area: Meadow Club, San Francisco Golf Club, The Olympic Club. It's truly a level playing field, as players rotate in picking up the greens fees.

Most business folks are put off by a CIO who drowns boardroom discussions with technobabble. For them, a dropped acronym is akin to popping a sleeping pill. But chatting about projects outside the office -- or, better yet, in a traditional sales setting -- is a win-win for all, especially the CIO.

On the golf course, the CIO is freed from his geeky persona. And he learns how to talk about technology in a way that business people understand. Since golf carts aren't conducive to showing PowerPoint slides, ideas must be conveyed in casual speech.

Together, everyone shoots for the same green. "Take them out to lunch, play golf," Woolwine says. "It really does make things successful." Of course, it also helps to drive the ball straight and long. For the record, the Majestic CIO boasts the group's best golfing index (10.3), followed by the CEO and CFO (both 20+).

Tom Kaneshige was a senior features editor at CIO Decisions. To comment on this story, email

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This was first published in March 2005

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