Ken Cohn, VP and CIO for Pepco
Ken is the CIO of Pepco, a utility company with over 8,000 employees. Ken has been a CIO Executive Series member for over eight years. Today, I caught up with Ken to get his thoughts on his career as he will retire at the end of this month. Biggest challenges in his career:
Business: When Ken started with Pepco in 1977, Pepco owned everything from the power plant to the lines going into the homes. With deregulation, Pepco became a transmission and distribution company. Ken sites Pepco’s two mergers as the most challenging in his career – the first merger failed after two years, but the second one was successful.
Technology: Due to new technologies such as, Smart Grid and Advanced Metering, the utility industry has to lead and not follow technology adoption. This is a huge shift for Pepco. Ken shared that utilities like ‘tried and true’ or ‘best practice’ style products. Well, in the technology innovation space, successful companies are early adopters. This is a challenge for an industry not used to products early in the maturity cycle.
Three Learning Points: (1) As the first CIO for Pepco, Ken shared with me that he learned very quickly that he can’t be all things to all people. Hire and build an excellent IT team. His staff has helped him tremendously to be able to lead technology at Pepco. (2) A CIO must understand how the business processes work and how those functions relate to the technology. (3) It is important to built good will, trust, and a feeling of inclusion when blending two corporate cultures. In Pepco’s second successful merger, Ken, as the CIO, was brought in early to do due diligence work. All integration decisions were made based on cost/benefit, not who was the bigger company in the merger. Ken said that this certainly helped make the transition smoother between both organizations and this aided in success of the merger.
On behalf of CIO Executive Series, I would like to congratulate Ken on his successful career. I wish him health, happiness and if his schedule permits, he is always welcome at our roundtables!