Motorola joins push to get out young voters

March 8, 2004


The "hip" factor at CEO Ed Zander's Motorola is growing. The company aims to turn out 20 million 18-to-30-year-olds for the November election through an innovative wireless platform.

The nine-month effort pairs the Schaumburg-based company with Rock the Vote, a Los Angeles organization that works to engage young adults in the political process through entertainment and culture. Motorola hopes to capitalize on the high penetration of cell-phone use among younger people to reduce voter apathy and disaffection.

Television actress Amber Tamblyn, who plays Joan Girardi on CBS's "Joan of Arcadia" says, "Like most young people, my cell phone is with me at all times. With Rock the Mobile Vote on my Motorola phone, I can be politically connected and politically active 24/7."

California 7, Illinois 0

Chris Santiago, a managing director for the Nasdaq stock market, recently shared tips with companies considering going public. The event, hosted by PR Newswire director John McWilliams, drew a strong turnout.

"There were 83 IPOs completed last year," Santiago says, "with 38 done on Nasdaq in the fourth quarter." The message: the IPO window is opening. California's already launched seven IPOs this year, with none in Illinois. Why? "They're very entrepreneurial," Santiago says.

Several IPO candidates were in the audience, including Chicago-based Huron Consulting and Rosemont's Kanbay. Maybe they'll help even the score.

Archipelago, the electronic stock exchange based here, last week said it planned an IPO later this year.

Wal-Mart's Linda Dillman

"We don't outsource. We don't offshore. We build all of our own applications," says Linda Dillman, CIO of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a powerhouse in applying information technology for competitive advantage.

Dillman arrives Wednesday to discuss supplier diversity at an event organized by the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE) at the Mid-America Club. She's got a good story. Since initiating a supplier-development program in 1994, Wal-Mart has spent more than $3.8 billion with minority and female-owned businesses.

Expect Dillman to extol the value of a supplier base that includes smaller companies as well as minority and female-owned companies. "I love working with these firms," Dillman says. "It's incredibly hard to find them," she adds, meaning outstanding small companies that can team with Wal-Mart. Dillman thinks it's worth the effort.

Robert Blackwell Jr., president, Electronic Knowledge Interchange, a local consulting firm, helped organize the event. Blackwell sees this workshop as a vehicle for changing perceptions. He wants to demonstrate that smaller-scale and minority-owned companies can deliver results.

At a time when buyers of technology services have pruned their supplier lists or gone offshore, Blackwell's bringing together CIOs who succeed using smaller companies. "People think large companies are better. It isn't necessarily so," Blackwell says.

The program includes top local CIOs who rely on smaller companies, including: Bruce Carver, CIO, PepsiCo Beverages; Chris O'Brien, CIO, City of Chicago, and Robert Runcie, CIO, Chicago Public Schools. Also speaking: Jack Lavin, director, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Michael Rumman, director, Central Management Services, State of Illinois.

Want a job like Wal-Mart's Dillman? She advocates a career in technology.

"This is the coolest job ever," she says. "It's the impact you can have on your company by being creative. This is the only place where you can see every place in the company."

Karl Aavik, a director with elite head-hunting firm Spencer Stuart, makes his living helping Global 2000 companies find CIOs. "Top CIOs can make $500,000 to $5 million. It becomes a function of stock options," says Ergin Uskup, retired CIO of Des Plaines-based, United Stationers.

So how do you snag one of these plum perches? Firms like Spencer Stuart say, "don't call us, we'll find you." Aavik has this advice: "It's the first 10 years of your career that count."

His point: Don't spend those years writing java code. "Figure out where the company makes money, and do rotations through those departments. Be in IT, but don't work only in the data center. Get around." Good advice.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant, and senior vice president for Hostway Corp., Chicago.


 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners