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Sheehan leaving CIO post at Dunkin' Brands for COO job at Modell's

Linda Tucci, Executive Editor

Dan Sheehan is leaving the CIO post at Dunkin' Brands Inc., after six years at the $6 billion Canton, Mass.-based doughnut maker. Sheehan will become the chief operating officer (COO) at Henry

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Modell & Co. Inc., owner of the Modell's Sporting Goods, according to two people familiar with Sheehan's plans. Sheehan has served as a board member of Modell's.

Company spokesperson Michelle King confirmed in an email that Sheehan's last day at Dunkin' Brands was Friday, April 13. King called Sheehan "an invaluable contributor" to the company's "technology vision," and added that Dunkin' CFO Neil Moses would serve as head of IT during the search for Sheehan's replacement.

Calls to Modell's were not returned.

As chief operating officer at Modell's responsible for overseeing daily operations, Sheehan arguably will be taking on a bigger job on a smaller playing field. The New York City-based Modell's, billed as the oldest family-owned retail chain in the country, operates approximately 140 stores from New Hampshire to Virginia and does about $559 million in revenue each year. The Dunkin' empire of some 9,800 restaurants extends over 31 countries and includes more than 700 franchisee owners and operators in the U.S. and 50 international partners. Both companies are privately owned.

Management pundits frequently argue that the CIO post  -- with its enterprise-wide view of the technology that runs and protects business -- is a natural stepping stone for bigger executive roles. Yahoo Inc., for example, recently chose former PayPal President and CTO Scott Thompson to lead its turnaround, but career moves from the CIO role to other C-level positions remain rare outside high-tech companies. More common, it seems, is a trend toward expanding the CIO role or beefing up IT with new roles aimed at leveraging information and data for competitive advantage. Titles such as chief data officers, chief digital officers and data scientists are increasingly popping up on corporate rosters.

In fact, only about 20% of CIOs see themselves moving into business leadership roles as their next career step, according to a 2012 survey of more than 2,300 CIOs by consultancy Gartner Inc. By contrast, 45% expect to continue as CIO, 17% anticipate becoming an executive at a technology or consulting firm and 18% contemplate retirement.

A companion Gartner survey of 229 CEOs shows that the perception is mutual: Only 20% of CEOs see their CIOs as future business leaders, said Gartner fellow Mark Raskino, who added that the transition from CIO to COO is rare in his experience.

“I do see that happen in information-based industries, so it is more likely in a banking environment -- where, if you think about it, technology is at the core of operations -- and in some media environments," Raskino said. "I think it is more likely that someone in IT would get to be head of shared services, if they are broadening out from IT operations."  

In August 2010, Dunkin' announced that it was strengthening its IT team with the hiring of Ken Chaisson, the new vice president of IT, retail technology deployment and support services. The former vice president of IT at Legal Sea Foods would report to Sheehan, said the company, and oversee the IT teams responsible for Dunkin's IT communications, retail technology deployment, support and centralized point-of-sales menu and item management. 

This spring has seen a number of high-profile comings and goings among the CIO ranks, including the  news just last week that Marc Gordon, Bank of America's CIO of six years, was being replaced by Laurie Readhead, a veteran of the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank's finance and consumer banking divisions.

Sheehan, a seasoned IT professional with more than 25 years in the information industry, was named CIO at Dunkin' Brands in March 2006. During his tenure at Dunkin', Sheehan enjoyed a high profile in the industry, serving on industry panels and interviewed in industry publications, including SearchCIO.com, on CIO issues ranging from change management  and technology innovation to analytics.  Prior to joining the coffee and doughnut juggernaut, Sheehan served as CIO at ADVO Inc., a $1.4 billion direct-mail marketing service. He has held senior IT management positions at The Coca-Cola Co., Georgia-Pacific LLC and Morton International Inc.

Let us know what you think of this story; email Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer.


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