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Exclusive: We reveal NATO's first ever CIO hire

New post to "help drive ICT cohesion across NATO’s civil and military bodies."

NATO has hired its first Chief Information Officer (CIO), appointing Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer to the newly created role -- which answers directly to the alliance's Secretary General -- The Stack can exclusively reveal.

As NATO's first CIO, he faces what a senior NATO leader previously described to The Stack's founder Ed Targett as a "challenging environment, both from a security perspective and from a business perspective".

Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer also picks up overall cybersecurity responsibilities as "the single point of authority for all cybersecurity issues" in the absence of a dedicated CISO -- albeit with a deep team around him.

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Boudreaux-Dehmer joins from Canadian wireless networking and IOT specialist Sierra Wireless, where he led the global IT function as vice president, information technology and systems. (The trilingual executive previously eight years at HP IT; including as a director leading IT strategy and planning across its global supply chain.)

NATO's first CIO Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer. The new NATO CIO will oversee a €1 billion annual IT budget
NATO's first CIO Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer

Boudreaux-Dehmer's appointment comes as NATO aims to take a more "enterprise approach" to IT procurement -- it spends €1 billion ($1.1 billion) on ICT annually -- and improve coordination across its 41 civil and military bodies and more than 25,000 users.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told The Stack: "We welcome the appointment of Mr. Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer as NATO’s first Chief Information Officer. This new post, established by the North Atlantic Council, will help drive Information and Communications Technology (ICT) cohesion across NATO’s civil and military bodies."

She added: "The CIO promotes ICT integration and alignment with the organisation’s goals and objectives.

"As a senior advisor to decision-makers, the CIO supports capability development as it relates to ICT, and provides oversight for the design, development, and operation of the NATO enterprise architecture. The CIO also fulfills the function of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in representing the single point of authority for all cybersecurity issues.

"This includes leading incident management, orienting specific investments and improvements to NATO’s cybersecurity posture, as well as advocating cybersecurity awareness across the NATO enterprise.

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The new NATO CIO is "supported by an office consisting of civilian and military ICT and cybersecurity experts” the Alliance's Lungescu noted. (NATO has been quietly building out an experienced team around its Office of the CIO. Hires this year include former European Defence Agency CISO Mario Beccia as head of strategic support.)

Boudreaux-Dehmer started his career at Compaq’s International Headquarters in Munich, Germany. He holds an MBA from Duke University in North Carolina, an MSc in Business Management Research from the University of Reading, UK, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at the University of Reading with a thesis focussing on "human-technology interactions within the context of IoT solutions."

He's going to need every ounce of his hard-won savvy to tackle the formidable, if exciting role leading a large and complex organisation through an ambitious organisational transformation: as the original recruitment notice pointed out, the right candidate for the role will need  “proven experience in consensus building”.

NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand told The Stack's founder Ed Targett in October 2020 that the decision to hire a CIO was "very much part of our overall modernisation process that we are pursuing in multiple domains, but particularly in ICT..." (Grand is chairman of NATO's C3 board – 30 CIOs from NATO's nation states who worked together to help drive creation of the new position and its office).

He noted at the time: "First of all the CIO has to help us and support the Secretary General oversee large investment programmes...  We want to inject an enterprise approach into this procurement across NATO.

"The second focus is not so much about technology, but about change management: we have to bring that enterprise culture to every element of the enterprise and have all the NATO entities  brought into this.

"[The CIO's role will span] people, process and culture... the challenges are very similar to those faced by a lot of organisations the same size, whether they are public or private. What we want to do it to optimise our digital business model and to make the best use of important resources that nations allocate to NATO."

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