Filippo Passerini attributes his business and personal style to lessons learned while playing competitive chess as a teenager. One lesson is to continually anticipate what's coming and think two, three or more moves ahead. Another is to pay attention to the clock and not take too much time to make a move.
"You need to plan your thinking time in a very wise way," Passerini says. "No matter how much you can anticipate what is coming next, there is a point where you need to make the move. That's very relevant to the way we do business."
Passerini, 49, global services officer and CIO at The Procter & Gamble, oversees an IT staff of 2,500 people at one of the largest and best-known consumer goods companies in the world. A native of Rome, Passerini joined P&G in 1981 and held a series of IT management roles in the U.K., Greece, Italy, the U.S., Latin America and Turkey before being named CIO in 2004. As global services officer, he oversees more than 70 worldwide business services and three key business partnerships.
The most successful IT project at P&G in the past 12 months, according to Passerini, was to "reinvent" IT at the company. P&G pulled all IT employees scattered in business units throughout the company into one organization, renamed the IT unit Information and Decisions Solutions and retrained its staff, with the goal of transforming IT from a back-office support function to a strategic business partner.
The change is already leading to much greater IT-business collaboration on strategic issues and helping to chart the future course of the company, Passerini says.
Passerini has invested a lot of energy into making IT a "core strategic contributor," says Giorgio Siracusa, vice president of human resources, employee and workplace services at P&G. Siracusa works closely with him on IT staffing issues and says Passerini is a great boss because he values people. "He knows the organization inside and out," Siracusa says. "He knows the names of people better than I do, and I'm in HR."
Becoming a CIO was never a specific goal of Passerini's while he was progressing in his career. His aim was to do the best he could at whatever job he was given. "That's what I've done all my life and continue to do today," he says.
Passerini says he has benefited from having numerous mentors in his career and from working in different parts of the world with people who have a variety of management styles and backgrounds.
Among the things he's learned is that regardless of a person's role in IT or business, it's critical to bring the right attitude.
"We can really influence the job we're in," he says. "The dream job is not what the job is, but what we make it."