10 Best CIOs to Watch 2018

A trendsetter and a role model in the field of consumer products: Suja Chandrasekaran, CIO of Kimberly-Clark


The role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) is very crucial and the most important one, be it in any industry or a sector that utilizes data and technology.  In an IT industry, having knowledge about the business or IT is not sufficient. CIO plays a pivotal, be it the role of managing resources, budgeting, planning, development, training, calculating to increase profits, reducing expenditure, and focusing on limiting the damage caused. CIOis the perfect business leader, whose decision making brings about a huge difference. They stand as the bridge between IT professionals and non-IT professionals to make sure there is an effective working relationship.

“A strong woman believes that she is strong enough to face a difficult journey but women who have faith in her and her deed believes that it is in this journey that she will become strong.” Meet one such woman who had enough faith in the journey of being an entrepreneur, SujaChandrasekaran, the CIO of Kimberly-Clark.

Termed as the icon of consumer products, Kimberly-Clark wasfounded by John A. Kimberly, Havilah Babcock, Charles B. Clark, and Franklyn C. Shattuck in Neenah, Wisconsin, with $42,000 (equivalent to US$878,383 in 2018) of capital inthe year 1872 and is currently based in Irving, Texas. It is an American multinational personal care corporation, which produces paper-based consumer products. The firm produces products with brand names such as; Kleenex facial, Kotex feminine hygiene products, Scott and Andrex toilet paper, KimWipes-Scientific cleaning wipes, and Huggies disposable diapers and baby wipes. 

The firm mainly aims at producing innovative products, its sole purpose is to serve and care the needs of the people by producing user-friendly customer products. The company sells its products in 175 countries, making it a tycoon in the field of consumer product sales. The company approximately is providing employment to over 43,000 employees.

It does require a lot of will power and courage to become the CIO of a mammoth-sized company that almost has a history of over 147 years and an icon in its field. SujaChandrasekaran, the CIO of Kimberly-Clark took a firm step and has set an example for the future entrepreneurs. SujaChandrasekaran joined the company as CIO in May 2016 to tackle that mission, bringing previous experience as a senior vice president, global chief technology officer, and chief data officer at Walmart Stores, Inc.

SujaChandrasekaran’s contribution

Since 2016, she has played a pivotal role in the company’s success. Her decision-making skills to improve and increase the revenue of the company were path-breaking. She stated that.  "It doesn't take us to the world of digital. It's not going to lay the foundations. It's not going to drive value or going to take us back to the order-taking mindset."

SujaChandrasekaran is framing new strategies, to improve customer-facing platforms or employee-facing platforms and is ensuring that she will deliver the best. She is setting a new trend in the field of digital transformation and is bringing about revolutionary changes in the respective field.

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Artificial Intelligence

The firm is all set to bring in new technologies. Regarding this Chandrasekaran said that “in spite of what you've heard, it's not rocket science. There are technologies and tools available now that make AI more accessible to the non-Google of the world”.The firm will introduce this new technology by the end of 2020.

Talent and change management

A huge part of Kimberly-Clark's digital transformation comes from reframing the approach to talent. Talent and change management is the most important and takes the longest," Chandrasekaran said. "Talent is not part of the game. Talent is THE game. Talent is THE game to get things going”. She also said that "We were getting our jobs done. Companies were running. The email was working, so why change? Change is the toughest form of leadership."

To address the need for change, Kimberly-Clark created KC University which includes in-house classes as well as seminars and summits. Each person in IT has a personal development plan which includes their directions and goals over the next 2 to 3 years that align with the goals of the company.

Future Goals

Kimberly-Clark has decided to join hands with UNICEF to help 2 million babies in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is all set to participate in the Barclays global consumer staples conference.

Meet the Trendsetter

Suja Chandrasekaran, the CIO of Kimberly-Clark, joined the company in May 2016. She previously worked as a senior vice president, global chief technology officer, and chief data officer at Walmart Stores, Inc.Suja holds a Master of Business Systems from Monash University located in Melbourne, Australia, and Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from the University of Madras located in India. She has also participated in an executive development program at the prestigious London Business School.

“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves.  We have to step up as women and take the lead.”