Movers & Shakers: IBM Sues CIO, IT Execs Change Industries

At Enterprise Mobility Exchange, we focus on the challenges enterprises face in the world of mobile transformation, and how those obstacles are overcome with technological advancement. What’s often not discussed, however, is the “who” behind these massive corporations and how they impact business practices.

In this new column, titled Movers & Shakers, we’ll focus on which IT executives are making moves within the industry and what it means to their respective companies.

          IBM Sues Former CIO
One of the world’s largest IT organizations is taking a former employee to court, claiming he could potential use his knowledge to trade secrets and thwart business. IBM filed suit against former cloud CIO Jeff Smith, who left the company in May. What’s the reason behind the move? Smith signed on with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world’s leading cloud storage company and direct competitor to IBM. The suit alleges Smith is violating a non-compete agreement and demanding he repay $1.7 million in stock bonuses. According to, Judge Cathy Seibel issued a temporary restraining order on Aug. 1 that would bar Smith from starting work at AWS that day, saying he was unable to solicit customers, recruit former colleagues, or disclose confidential information. The restraining order was altered the next day, allowing Smith to begin his new job, but in “listen and learn mode only.” IBM’s suit is asking that Smith not be allowed to work for AWS until May of 2018. The next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21, 2017.

          Same New Tech, Different Space
One of the world’s largest retail organizations said goodbye to their CIO earlier this year, who resigned from the position to pursue other opportunities. With that came a complete change in industry. Karenann Terrell, former CIO of Walmart, spent seven years in the position before resigning in March of this year. She’s reappeared as the Chief Digital and Technology Officer for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the pharmaceutical giant, and will be based in London, England. According to Forbes, “(Terrell) will work with a wide range of partners from inside and outside the healthcare sector to bring new technologies to GSK, enhancing areas such as clinical trials and drug development.” She officially joins the company’s corporate executive team on Sept. 4. The switch in industry may seem vast, but this isn’t Terrell’s first foray into change; in fact, healthcare isn’t new to the executive’s resume. Prior to Walmart, she spent four years as CIO at Baxter International, which focused on medical devices, products, and services. Before that, she had a two-year stint as CIO for DaimlerChrysler in the automotive industry.

          From Public To Private
Cybersecurity in government has no greater demand or importance than now, and with that comes the need for top talent. One of those top talents has moved on from the government space to the private sector, however, in yet another shakeup. Sean Kelley, CISO for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced he’ll be stepping down in August to take a position with Leidos, a defense contractor. Interestingly, Kelley was tapped as CISO for the EPA in January of this year, having served as the Deputy CIO for the Department of Veterans Affairs from Oct. 2012 until the start of 2017. Kelley isn’t alone in his departure from the public sector, as a mini exodus unfolds with the likes of Dave Devries, CIO for the Office of Personnel Management stepping away from government, according to Devries cited personal reasons for his departure.

What’s the reason behind the constant unrest in the c-suite? Are IT executives geared toward finding new challenges and leaping hurdles for new successes? Or are they just becoming as fluid as the technology space in their charge?

Want to discuss what’s going on in the world of Enterprise Mobility? Visit our discussion board to speak with others in the IT community, ask questions, and network with peers by clicking here