CIO Profile from the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium – Manoj Kumbhat, Global Chief Information Officer, Kimberly-Clark

change management

Today’s CIOs increasingly recognize the connection between good IT architecture and the successful enterprise. So not surprisingly, discussions related to architecture, informal and formal, were common at the recently held MIT Sloan CIO Symposium.

We wanted to explore that connection, and others related to cybersecurity and digital transformation, for example. Thus, we sought out each of the finalists for the 15th Annual MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award for exclusive interviews.

The last two Fridays, we featured Vagesh Dave, Global VP & CIO at McDermott International, Ltd. and Adriana Karaboutis, the Chief Information and Digital Officer at National Grid plc.Manoj

Today, we’re featuring Manoj Kumbhat, Global Chief Information Officer, Kimberly-Clark. He also spoke on The Most Impactful Technology Trends in the Decade Ahead panel as well as the Leadership award panel.

Question: Tell us about your current role and what you like most about it?

Answer: I am the Global CIO for Kimberly-Clark, a global consumer packaged goods (CPG) company with $19+ billion in annual revenue. Our IT organization consists of 1,100+ employees located in 50+ countries, and we have six Global Digital Technology Centers located across major global technology talent hubs. We also have 3,500+ consultants / contractors partnering with us. Together, this digital technology team cares for our consumers and customers by delivering digital commercial, supply chain, manufacturing, and core technology solutions.

I am responsible for driving K-C’s digital transformation, which includes delivering an ambitious data and technology agenda. In addition to my IT organizational responsibilities, I also partner closely with our Chief Growth, Supply Chain, and Risk Officers to drive growth strategies, build commercial capabilities to grow our top line, execute a digitally connected vision for supply chain, and ensure enterprise risk is effectively managed.

What I like most about my role: successfully driving K-C’s digital transformation to-date by reinforcing a collaborative, caring culture. This includes:

  • Encouraging my team to cultivate a growth mindset fueled by curiosity and guided by our purpose – Better Care for a Better World – and fostering a hands-on culture of experimentation that is enabled by our innovation-to-scale framework.
  • Collaborating with our business ecosystem, our customers, and vendors. This is reinforced by exchanging data to enhance our planning and execution capabilities, which ultimately results in business growth and a better experience for our consumers.
  • Achieving mutual success with our partner ecosystem by actively working with technology service providers, emerging start-ups, research institutions, and academia to accelerate our innovation maturity and digital delivery capabilities.

Q: How has the CIO role been evolving over the last few years?

A: Long gone are the days of IT being relegated to a back-office support role for the business. Today’s CIO is a business leader with a full seat at the C-suite table. Over the last few years especially, the role of the CIO has evolved into that of a strategic advisor for all aspects of the business. Companies now rely on CIOs to identify efficiencies, enable new models and agile business processes, and drive growth initiatives. At Kimberly-Clark over the last few years, we’ve significantly elevated the role of IT and effectively eliminated shadow IT operations within the business units. Our business partners now see IT not just as a transactional support organization, but as a driver of business transformation.

Q: What are the kinds of things in the workplace that keep you up at night?

A: IT organizations around the world face unprecedented talent acquisition and retention challenges. Kimberly-Clark is no exception. There are few things more important to the team right now than attracting and retaining the people we need to fully realize our digital transformation, deliver value, and continue to drive growth.

Beyond talent, recent geo-political events, increased use of ransomware and data exploitation for financial gains, and Kimberly-Clark’s ongoing digital transformation all command increased protection of our valuable digital assets. While our Information Security team has policies, processes, and controls in place to protect the company, respond to incidents, and remediate vulnerabilities, we are also asking and equipping all employees to keep our systems and data secure.

Q: How do you interact with those members of your team leading initiatives around IT architecture?

A: Kimberly-Clark’s CTO – who reports to me – is responsible for leading and overseeing our IT architecture initiatives. Within the CTO organization, we have dedicated enterprise architects focused on driving K-C’s holistic digital agenda and building and configuring digital platforms and enabling tools for our IT and business unit teams. I am in regular contact with our CTO and I engage with our enterprise architecture teams for strategic problem-solving sessions involving material architectural matters and the overall health of the architecture program.

Prior to being named Global CIO, I had the privilege of leading our Engineering Architecture & Applications Team (now under the purview of our CTO), so I always enjoy the opportunity to engage with my old team.