OffBeat

Why the next president should be a CIO

The Oval Office

Above: The Oval Office

Image Credit: spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

Politics suck, and I blame that on the politicians. What our Founding Fathers intended to be a temporary stint – serving in national politics – has become a lifelong career where people who went to law school spend all their time distributing talking points to their media talking heads, raising money, and attempting to stay in power. All the while, our economy and our country are slowly declining. Most of these individuals have no real practical skills, but what is worse is that in a world where technology is ever more important, our politicians have a very poor grasp of it. Look at the way they dealt with SOPA, the NSA snooping, the net neutrality debate, H1b visas, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

We need to get back to the vision of our Founding Fathers and appoint regular people with real skill to lead our nation. We are up against a unique set of challenges and need to make better decisions about how and when to regulate technology while inspiring more innovation and ensuring that important technology projects at the national level don’t turn into mismanaged catastrophes. The skills needed to overcome those challenges are far different than those that were necessary to run this country in the past. Our future leaders must fully understand technology – both its power and its risk. That is why our next president should be a CIO.

CIOs are strategic, understanding how technology works, and recognize the trends that are going to dominate the future of our nation’s industries. They are insightful people, good at managing large projects on time and on budget, and they have an uncanny way of thinking big picture while still embracing the details. These professionals know how to sell ideas internally, win support across complex organizations, and anticipate the second-order ripple effects that IT projects inevitably create.

So with that in mind, here are my picks for 2016 race:

Jamie Miller, General Electric

Who better to serve as our President than the master of technology at one of our oldest home-grown corporations? Working at GE, Jamie manages a global team and a diverse portfolio of businesses flawlessly. Her company has been able to stay relevant through the times and adapt as the technology landscape evolves. Jamie also has a finance and accounting background, so maybe she could fix Washington’s budget issues as well.

Ross Meyercord, Salesforce.com

We are living in a world where data is moving to the cloud and the team at Salesforce knows that better than anyone else. As one of the world’s first cloud computing companies, Salesforce has one of the most advanced partner and API ecosystems around. Not only is Ross at the forefront of managing cloud data in his role at Salesforce, but after 22 years at Accenture he also has a lot of experience managing complex I.T. projects.  I imagine healthcare.gov would have turned out differently if Ross had been in charge.

Ben Fried, Google

If anyone knows the roadmap to global domination, it is the team at Google. Who better to lead the U.S. through an innovation renaissance than the guy who manages all the I.T. for the world’s most innovative company?

Let’s face it. The last few presidents have failed us when it comes to technology. Yet almost every key pillar that most presidential candidates campaign around: education, energy, healthcare, the military,  all have technology as part of their modern backbone. A CIO president would know how to put the right pieces in place to make sure that all of these moving parts stay on track, harnessing the most current technology solutions in ways that benefit us all.

These individuals operate in the most rapidly changing industries in the world. They have built careers that require them to stay on top of learning and innovation, and always seeking out the next technologies. They have learned to understand what is a fad, and what is a lasting trend. And most importantly, they have had to recruit and manage top talent in a market where demand has far exceeded supply.

As we quickly approach a new election year, reconsider the skills that should be required in a President. Do you want someone who can give a great speech but never really follow through? Do you want someone who is flashy, ego-obsessed and favors buzzwords over deep analysis and understanding? If you answered yes to those questions, than you should have plenty of candidates to choose from.  Unfortunately, I won’t, unless we can get Jamie, Ross, and Ben to make a run for 2016.

Rob MayRob May is CEO and cofounder of Cambridge, Mass.-based Backupify, provider of backup and recovery solutions for cloud application data. Rob started his career as a digital design engineer at Harris Corporation and held business development and management positions at multiple startups before cofounding Backupify in 2008. Rob was also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Louisville School of Business.