Following up on her presence at CIO CITY earlier this year, Neelie Kroes invited CIONETs ‘European CIO of the Year’ Finalists to meet with her in Brussels. In a meeting which lasted well over an hour the key question Vice President Neelie Kroes asked was “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”.
This question raised a large number of topics where the CIOs shared their thoughts, observations and recommendations. Topics included the status and awareness of the Grand Coalition and the Digital Agenda. The CIOs commented that only once they became aware of content of the Digital Agenda it was seen as relevant.
This feedback was seen by the Commission as a wake-up call. The Commission realizes much effort is still required to explain to organizations which the CIOs represent what the Digital Agenda means for them. The CIO of Sonae Portugal, Artur Loureiro expressed his concern of a ‘brain drain’ of talented young people – a ‘lost generation’ – leaving the country as there is little or no work. VP Kroes stated that this issue is indeed a concern and it has the attention at the highest levels including that of President Barroso. She committed to contacting President Barroso to see if he can address the local CIO community when he is over in Portugal. Further topics were policy issues regarding the Digital Single Market, Cloud and software license issues.
At the end of the meeting CIONET presented a small gift to demonstrate our appreciation for Neelie Kroes being one of the winners of TIAW’s ‘World of Difference’ awards. She has put the need for ‘More women in IT’ on the agenda and has empowered other women by offering them a stage. Silvia Leal took the opportunity to present VP Kroes the first copy of her book ‘Ingenio y pasión’ which supports the important role women can play in IT. Following the meeting, the CIOs had a long lunch sponsored by Accenture Belgium with a number of key EC executives where we continued to the discussions. We also agreed to involve the CIONET community more in the development of the European Cloud strategy and the development of an eLeadership program.
The visit to Brussels has proven again that the CIO has a voice which should be heard by policy makers and that CIOs can truly benefit from a direct relation with the EC. As Thomas Henkel, Vice President ICS Amer Sports, Germany pointed out “We have a once in a life time opportunity to rejuvenate Europe”. And the CIONET community has to play an important role.