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BostonCoach CIO: Firsthand Experience Invaluable When Leading IT Staff

Moving from a multibillion-dollar athletic apparel company to a privately held midmarket ground transportation provider might sound like a leap, but Thomas Kearns doesn't see it that way. In July 2005, Kearns arrived as CIO at Everett, Mass.-based BostonCoach, fresh from a stint at Reebok International where he was vice president of information systems and technology. With more than two decades of IT experience, Kearns says the two companies share similarities. "Both deliver a service or product to consumers," he notes. And in operational terms, both "have to take an order, fulfill that order and close out that order and do those things in ways that ensure a positive customer experience," Kearns says.

Even with an understanding of operations, Kearns needed to learn about BostonCoach's business from the ground up. Within two weeks of starting his job, he spent three hours on the customer service desk, listening in as reps handled customer calls. Known as double-jacking, the process gave Kearns insight into the needs of his two end-user constituencies: the customers of BostonCoach -- which provides services such as limousine transportation for individuals and fleet transport for groups -- and the company's employees.

That firsthand experience, says Kearns, will prove invaluable as he settles into leading a 20-person IT staff. His chief task, he says, is to "keep BostonCoach at the cutting edge in terms of technology." CEO Jonathan Danforth gave him that objective, which was a big reason Kearns took the job. "IT is really one of our key differentiators," Kearns says.

Megan Santosus, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a features editor for Write to her at

This was last published in February 2006

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