Interview: Motorola CIO on recruiting and retaining talent

Motorola CIO Patricia Morrison talks about recruiting and retaining talent in the global marketplace, innovation in IT and developing a process for integrating acquisitions.

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Four of the five business unit CIOs who work for you are women. How do you happen to have so many women in top IT positions at Motorola?

In a couple of cases, they were promoted, and in others, they were hired from the outside. When you have an opening, you make sure you have a diversity of candidates, in gender, experience and other ways.

Given all the concerns in the industry about attracting women to IT, would you personally choose a woman for a job if all other variables were roughly equal?

I don't think that way. It's valuable to have diversity in my team -- not so much to have a woman. I consider what will make my team better. That can include personality. One of my CIOs brings consumer products experience into my team. One had supply chain experience and brought an engineering perspective. One of my CIOs has a Ph.D. in art history and was a curator at [New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art]. So it's really looking at all the unique things that people bring.

How can companies attract young women to a career in IT?

It's not unique to women, but it's a problem, if you are talking about getting kids into the IT profession from an educational standpoint. There's a lot in the media about outsourcing, and that gives misimpressions about the IT opportunity. That's one dynamic that's making people gravitate away from IT as a profession.

I recently had lunch with a group of female engineering students and asked what interested them in the engineering profession. It was a consistent view that the No. 1 thing to motivate them was their fathers. So there's got to be a feeling of confidence when you come into a difficult profession, whether it is engineering or IT. That confidence is very important.

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