CIO Spotlight: Dwight Pitter, Westcon-Comstor

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? "We are evolving our global digital capabilities from a solid foundation, in line with our data-led and digital-first corporate strategy."


Name: Dwight Pitter

Company: Westcon-Comstor

Job title: CIO

Date started current role: October 2018

Location: Tarrytown NY, USA

As CIO, Dwight Pitter is responsible for design and deployment of company-wide technology systems. Since joining in 2015, he has led our digital transformation and has been fundamental to the development of our digital distribution platforms. Pitter possesses 20 years of commercial experience across global enterprise solutions, e-commerce platforms, order management and CRM. He holds a degree in Computer Science from Southern Connecticut State University.

What was your first job? My very first job was assembling bicycles for Sears and Roebuck when I was 16. My first IT-related job was a computer lab technician at university.

Did you always want to work in IT? I originally wanted to be an accountant, but I switched to IT after taking a programming class during my second year of university.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I hold a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, plus certificates in Database Administration/Tuning, various programming languages, and web development.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I started out as a software developer for a start-up. After two years, I wanted corporate experience so moved on to Avon, where I did everything from retail systems to order management implementations. I left Avon after 11 years and went to Coach to lead their e-commerce. I then took a detour to a marketing/creative agency before joining Westcon in 2014.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year?  The most significant investments for IT in the coming years are driven by our digital-first and data-driven strategy. At Westcon-Comstor, we are enhancing all the ways our customers interact with us at every touch-point. We believe that transforming the digital customer experience through data will bring accuracy and agility, as well as enhancing their experience and increasing our value.

What are the CIO’s priorities for you in the coming year? How will you support the business with IT? The top priorities for Westcon-Comstor are to be digital-first and data-driven to enable partners to unlock their digital potential. In line with our technology initiatives, we are enhancing our customer experience through more agile, accurate, user-friendly and connected digital platforms and processes.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? CIOs today need to wear many hats. The responsibilities of today’s CIO are almost endless. You have to thoroughly understand all aspects of the business and be very aware of its strategies, growth and financial goals. You must have strong stakeholder partnerships and be an advocate for change. You must be both strategic and operational. And you must understand the value of your customers and be passionate on how you deliver value to them.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Every business is undergoing digital transformation, and it’s a journey not a destination. We don’t recognise customer experience and operational efficiency as being mutually exclusive. Because we are a distributor, operations are critically important to our customers, so operational excellence and efficiency enhances the customer experience which drives revenue growth.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? Adapting to increasingly digital market needs and expectations, and leveraging digital technologies to improve operations are strategic goals in our business. We are evolving our global digital capabilities from a solid foundation, in line with our data-led and digital-first corporate strategy. Our approach is a true partnership between IT and the business, and this drives the value of IT at Westcon-Comstor.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? Westcon-Comstor has an entrepreneurial spirit which starts at the top with the management team. We cultivate this within the IT business by encouraging the sharing of ideas and allowing leaders to manage their areas as a goal-oriented business.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? End-to-end digital architects that can also implement solutions.

What's the best career advice you have received? It was not so much advice as an attitude from someone I looked up to. Early in my career I had an implementation where the go-live failed, resulting in the shutdown of a large retail store for an entire day. My VP took me for a walk and asked me: “What can I do to help?” His support, confidence and authenticity under pressure was better than any advice I’ve ever received.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, what are the challenges of training up high-performing staff? I do have a succession plan. High performers need space and opportunities to grow. Refraining from giving them ‘your’ answers or the way ‘you’ would do it can be challenging sometimes, but it’s necessary for their growth. Finding the discipline to not give the answers and being patient is very important to developing your successor.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Listen. Listen to your customers, your business partners, your competitors, and your team. It’s so much easier to innovate when you truly hear and understand what they are saying and want. For me, listening leads to asking the right breakthrough question, which leads to that special idea.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I’m most proud of the transformation work we have done at Westcon-Comstor. It’s the best example of teamwork, dedication and executive sponsorship that I’ve been a part of.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? Nothing, I have learned from every one of my mistakes and they continue to shape me today.

What are you reading now? Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

Most people don't know that I… Enjoy raising orchids and Bonsai trees.

In my spare time, I like to…I enjoy cycling, cooking and I still love playing video games with my kids.

Ask me to do anything but… Don’t ask me to give or follow driving directions!