Hamilton Beach CIO takes IT from black hole to company star

IT was regarded as a "black hole" at Hamilton Beach, says Jerry Hodge, senior director of IS. New processes, PPM software from Innotas and a lot of hand holding turned IT into a star.

Award winner: Jerry L. Hodge, senior director of information services at Hamilton Beach Brands Inc.

Award-winning project: A formalized project and portfolio management (PPM) process in support of Hamilton Beach's information services governance program.

Hear from our award winner
Jerry HodgeListen in as Jerry L. Hodge talks with senior news writer Linda Tucci about his work as CIO at Hamilton Beach.

Industry: Appliances

Revenue: $540 million

Number of employees: 550

Time in job: Six years, the past three years as director of information services.

Educational background: Associate of Science, Computer Science, and Bachelor of Science, industrial management, from Purdue University; MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

First job: A programmer at TRW Automotive, then spent several months as a production scheduler at a company plant. I love the smell of machine oil.

Best advice you've ever received: There are no technology projects, only business projects with IT components. Put another way: Get your hands dirty in the business and follow the cash.

Best career move: Leading the supply chain at Hamilton Beach for three years before being named head of IS. I've had the best of both worlds here.

Biggest career influence: My uncle, an early IT professional, used to bring me to work. I got the bug as a 13-year-old. From my dad, who was a retailer, I learned to manage by walking around and to be on time. To this day I still set all of our alarm clocks in the house seven minutes fast.

Award-winning IT
Why this project worked: Our people got trained in the basics of project management before automating the process. Everybody flea-dipped in the project management body of knowledge. Having really good sponsorship is also critical. In this case I did, because it was me.


How you sold it to management: I really didn't have to. We weren't delivering on time and we sure weren't managing on budget. The aim was to improve product delivery by managing risk better and working closely with the business. Changes that are made to project scope are jointly made with the business partner. Projects follow my 90-day rule: results in three months, or reassess.

What the judges said: This project was thoroughly planned and well executed. It set realistic goals for each complex phase in an attempt to deliver consistently, rather than perfectly from the start gate. His attention to detail carried the project through.

Best technology decision: We dipped our toes early into virtualization. We made an educated leap of faith about four years ago and had a lot of success with it.

Biggest IT challenge: My CEO calls it 'Getting more pigs through the python. We need to get more of the right stuff done with the same or less amount of resources.' That's an ongoing challenge because every day something new pops up or breaks.

Best and worst personality trait: Passionate. I go into things with everything on my sleeve. That can get me in trouble. Some people can misinterpret that passion for being arrogant. Some days I do a better job of being aware of that than others.

Hobby: I'm still physically able to play basketball and golf. I like walking on the beach with my boys.

Alter-ego career: General manager of a pro basketball or football team. With all the changes they've got, with salary cap, injuries and contracts, I'm thinking, it's no different from being here.

Current reading: Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success, by John Wooden, legendary UCLA coach and Purdue graduate.

Next big technology: I hate it when sales guys come in with technology in search of a project. I see opportunities with open source and likes the SaaS model.

One word of advice to IT pros coming up the ranks: Don't. That said: Execute faster, cheaper, better, cultivate high-quality people and build great teams.


Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer


2008 CIO Decisions Midmarket IT Leadership Award Winners
Larry L. Burwell: Profile | Podcast
Ron Crall: Profile | Podcast
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Oded Haner | Profile | Podcast
Jerry L. Hodge: Profile | Podcast
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David Mann: Profile | Podcast
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