Vice President & Chief Information Officer
Kimberly A. Mackenroth is vice president and chief information officer for Textron Inc. In this role, she leads the business unit chief information officers and the Textron Information Services (TIS) organization, which also includes the chief information security officer, chief technology officer, and shared services. She oversees Textron's Information Management Council and manages Textron's information technology supplier and outsourcing relationships.
Prior to her current role, Mackenroth was VP & CIO of Textron Aviation, where she oversaw all global information technology, focusing on optimizing technology systems, supporting M&A activities, and aligning business strategy and requirements with the delivery of IT services.
Mackenroth joined Bell in 1996 and held numerous positions of increasing responsibility across functions such as supply chain, manufacturing, and integrated product teams in support of helicopter programs. Appointed as director of IT in 2008, she led a multi-discipline team that provided IT services to the global business during a period of significant business system change. In 2011, she was named VP & CIO of Textron Tools & Test, a position she held for two years before being appointed to her role at Textron Aviation. She holds a B.S. in management from Baylor University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Arlington.
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Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.
While working toward my M.B.A. in international business and finance at the University of Texas at Arlington, I joined Textron’s Bell business unit in supply chain and then moved to various roles in manufacturing, gaining a thorough understanding of material requirements planning and lean manufacturing. As a manager in manufacturing operations, I led the implementation of a multi-million dollar planning and scheduling system to drive operational effectiveness by balancing capacity and demand. I also gained project management experience as we rolled this system out to various sites. In addition to learning – and driving improvements – on the manufacturing and operations side, I gained exposure to executives and U.S. government representatives.
I gained additional insight into aerospace and defense in subsequent roles, including roles in helicopter integrated product teams and as an ERP team leader, while modernizing our business systems. With technology underpinning the success of all these projects, I eventually moved into the information technology space with a role as an IT business partner, followed by another role as a director of IT business process integration.
As I gained experience with business operations and IT, I then served as VP & CIO for two of Textron’s other businesses: Greenlee (which became Tools & Test) and Textron Aviation. These experiences led to my current role as the VP & CIO at Textron Inc., where I lead our business unit CIOs and our IT shared services organization.
It’s been quite a journey, and now I am focused on ensuring IT is a strategic partner across our businesses driving strong outcomes.
What is one of your guiding leadership principles?
Within my organization, I emphasize that our people are business leaders first and IT professionals second. I want my team to see themselves as change agents who understand how to harness the potential of technology to drive strong business outcomes.
With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CIO going in the next 1-2 years?
With technology’s rapidly changing landscape and new industry disruptors challenging conventional wisdom, as CIO, my role is to steer the course by ensuring that our IT organization adheres to our strategic priorities, which are:
- Succeed with people;
- Live secure;
- Operate with excellence;
- Grow our business.
Annually, I review the challenges we anticipate to face for the coming year with our business unit CIOs, CISO, CTO, and leader of shared services, and we frame our strategy and response based on these priorities.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CIO?
My advice is to quickly identify your key stakeholders – at all levels of the organization – and start establishing good relationships from the outset. One of my favorite questions is to ask, “How did you get this role?” This provides key insights and the ability to make a connection. It is important to understand their vision and determine how as business partners we can work together.
Work with your organization’s leaders to establish a vision and then communicate it. Do this via all-hands meetings with your staff, open communication with your direct reports and frequent touchpoints with stakeholders outside your organization. Put the right people in the right roles, and don’t forget to formally recognize those change agents within your organization who are performing the hard work to realize your vision.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
- I have two daughters in college – and neither one attends my university, which is Baylor.
- I’ve lived in seven states: California, Louisiana, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, and Texas (now twice).
- One of my favorite quotes is by author Caroline Myss: “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”
What is the value of participating in a professional community through Evanta?
One of my favorite sayings is 1+1=3, which means that together we can learn much more and drive stronger outcomes. As CIOs we are facing unprecedented challenges. And while we operate in different industries, there is still so much we can learn from one another while also offering support to our CIO peers.
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