MIT Sloan CIO Symposium Names Leading Chief Information Officers as Finalists for 2019 Leadership Award

May 02, 2019

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- The MIT Sloan CIO Symposium today announced the four finalists for the 12th Annual MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award. The winner will be announced at a private event on May 21, 2019 and publicly during the Symposium, "Leading the Smarter Enterprise," on May 22, 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Over more than a decade, the Award has recognized Chief Information Officers (CIOs) who lead their organizations to deliver exemplary levels of business value through innovative use of IT.

"After much thoughtful consideration, the Awards committee is proud to recognize these four finalists for our prestigious Leadership Award," said George Westerman, Award co-chair. "These individuals go well beyond traditional CIO traits. They have stepped up to lead their companies in becoming smarter enterprises." 

The 2019 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award finalists are:

  • Gail Evans, CDO, Mercer
  • Kris Rao, CIO, Ricoh USA, Inc.
  • Aarti Shah, Ph.D., SVP, CIO/CDO, Eli Lilly & Company
  • Eash Sundaram, EVP, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, JetBlue

Gail Evans
Gail Evans is Mercer's first Chief Digital Officer and a member of the Executive Leadership Team. She leads a team focused on driving and delivering Mercer's digital transformation strategy. Previously, as the Global Chief Information Officer, she oversaw transformation and modernization of Mercer's technology with an emphasis on innovation and security of Mercer's data assets. Prior to joining Mercer, Ms. Evans held positions at Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Bank of America, and began her career at Eastman Kodak Company as a technology executive and as CIO of consumer Digital where she led digital transformations.

"It is an honor to be a finalist," said Ms. Evans, CDO, Mercer. "It's an exciting journey to deliver Mercer's digital capabilities, frictionless client experiences and innovations for our clients, business leaders and colleagues."

Kris Rao
Mr. Rao is Vice President & Head of Information Technology at Ricoh USA, Inc. In this role, Rao provides the executive leadership necessary to develop and implement IT initiatives to streamline Ricoh's business transformation while driving long- and short-term strategic planning, development, evaluation and coordination of IT systems that support the company's front and back office operations and technology infrastructure. Rao brings more than 25 years of IT business management experience to his role gained across multiple industries at many leading organizations. He has held several leadership positions in IT throughout his career, including: Consulting Leader and Senior Partner at Wipro Digital; Chief Technology Officer at Hospira; Senior Director of IT, at Motorola, Sr. Director of Software Products Engineering at Motorola; and Technical Director at Oracle.

"At Ricoh, we're committed to empowering digital workplaces and our desire to deliver the right transformation to help our employees and customers work smarter," said Mr. Rao, CIO, Ricoh. "With that comes a culture of innovation and commitment to growth.  I believe collaboration, innovation, and adoption of emerging technologies are harbingers of business transformation.  That understanding has now become Ricoh IT's DNA."

Aarti Shah
Dr. Shah is Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer of Eli Lilly & Company. She reports to Lilly's CEO and is a key member of the executive committee. An accomplished executive with 25 years of experience, Dr. Shah leads all technology, digital, cybersecurity, advanced analytics and data sciences globally – along with the company's digital transformation and integration of tech, data and analytics to deliver on Lilly's mission to create medicines that make life better for people around the world. She oversees a team of several thousand employees worldwide. Dr. Shah has held several global roles across the various phases of drug development and commercialization before being appointed as CIO. She is known for her inspirational and genuine leadership style, and for leading global cross-functional teams from vision development to strategy creation to execution, with significant business outcomes and people development. Dr. Shah serves on several non-profit boards.

"I am both honored and humbled to be a finalist for the 2019 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award," said Ms. Shah, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at Lilly. "This is the time to be in technology and health care. Digital health has the potential to redefine all aspects of health care and unleash enormous value for society as a whole. At Lilly, we are transforming our business by leveraging today's most innovative technologies, data sciences and advanced analytics capabilities to speed the discovery and development of our medicines, provide meaningful customer experiences and deliver on our purpose of making life better for people around the world."

Eash Sundaram
Mr. Sundaram serves as JetBlue's EVP, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, and the Chair of JetBlue Technology Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways. He is responsible for technologies, digital and innovation for the airline and oversees strategy, vision and implementation of technology solutions that align with the value airline's business model to offer consistent service and maximize investment. Prior to JetBlue, Mr. Sundaram worked at Pall Corporation as Senior VP Global Supply Chain and CIO. Before joining Pall, he served in a variety of leadership positions with increasing global responsibilities in Technology, Operations with McKesson-PSS World Medical, i2 Technologies, ALK Technologies & the Sea Horse Group.

"In a challenging industry where technology is central to everything we do, it's not just about providing the right tools to 22,000+ crewmembers, helping them deliver the JetBlue Experience to 42 million customers every year," said Mr. Sundaram, EVP, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, JetBlue. "To set us up for the future, we must also build a pipeline of innovative ideas and a global footprint of visionary IT professionals to help rethink the potential of travel and hospitality. To be named a finalist for the 2019 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award is an honor, and a heartwarming acknowledgement of our team's continued efforts."

After two rounds of extensive review, a panel of judges that includes CIOs, academic researchers and IT professionals selected the Award finalists who exhibit the key traits of a CIO leader in the following areas:

  • Exceptional Communicator – Articulates a vision for strategic business value from IT and works across the organization to build partnership around this vision. Focuses communications on value and innovation, not technology. Helps all IT staff to understand the business and speak the language of business leaders.
  • Recognized IT Leader – Clearly demonstrates value-for-money in the management of core IT services by providing the right services at the right price and the right level of quality. Recognized among peers as an effective leader of the IT unit.
  • Driver of Business Value – Understands the business and needs of the CEO, CFO, Line-of-Business heads and other senior executives. Ensures clear focus on potential and realized value in all IT initiatives. Incorporates IT into business decision-making by participating in key strategic conversations, suggesting innovative uses of IT, and managing risk.
  • Trusted Partner ("CIO-Plus") – Exercises authority beyond IT itself. Considered a trusted member of the senior executive team, not just a technology leader. Suggests innovative uses of IT to transform the business – and successfully executes the changes. May receive additional non-IT responsibilities such as Chief Operating Officer or VP of Strategy, or strategic temporary roles such as Head of M&A integration.

These criteria are adapted from the award-winning book The Real Business of IT: How CIOs Create and Communicate Value, which draws extensively upon research conducted at MIT Sloan. 

For more details and to view the full agenda for the 2019 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, please visit

About the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium
The MIT Sloan CIO Symposium is the premier global conference for CIOs and digital business executives to become more effective leaders. In one day, CIOs and senior IT executives explore enterprise technology innovations and business practices, and receive actionable information that enables them to meet the challenges of today and the future. The Symposium offers a unique learning environment by bringing together the academic thought leadership of MIT with the in-the-trenches experience of leading, global CIOs and industry experts. The MIT Sloan CIO Symposium is organized and developed by the MIT Sloan Boston Alumni Association, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), and the MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). For more information and to register for this year's Symposium, visit

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