How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association

Sara Peters, Editor in Chief | 8/16/2013 | 20 comments

Sara Peters
[Part V of E2's two-week How to Become a CIO series.]

All college students share a common ailment -- they think they know everything about life and they're usually wrong about half of it.

Some students swear they'll never wear a tie to the office. Some swear they'll never cut off their dreadlocks. Larry Bonfante swore he'd never get involved in information technology… but somehow he became CIO of the US Tennis Association.

The US Tennis Association campus is now abuzz with the sounds of construction as they gear up to host the US Open -- one of tennis's biggest events of the year, which begins Aug. 26. (Come back to E2 on that day to see our interview with Bonfante about the IT behind the US Open.) I took a visit out to get a glimpse of the courts that Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal will be playing on in a few weeks. I wanted to talk to Bonfante about the career in IT that he never thought he'd have. Here's what he had to say:

Did you know all along that you wanted to be in an IT-related job, or did you plan on being something entirely different -- like a ballerina or a professional snowboarder? Let us know in the comments below. Come back Monday to hear what Kim Batson (the CIO Coach) says should be on the resume of anyone who wants to land a CIO job. Take the current E2 Poll to let us know what qualities you think are most essential in a CIO. Also, please check out the first four segments of E2's How to Become a CIO series:

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Marif   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/20/2013 2:08:27 AM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
@sara: you are absolutely right, if CIO is most technical person on the team, this will affect the performance of not only the team but the CIO as well. As he will be bound to interfere in low level decisions and the team will become habitual of this kind of supervision. This will eventually affect the confidence of team their dependency on CIO will grow. Practically I feel that this is very unlikely that a CIO is more technical in all the operation performed under him/her. He can be a master of one domain it can either be development, operations, security, networks etc. If CIO better in all than it raises serious concerns on the qualification of the team.
Umair Ahmed   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 8:06:18 PM
Re: How I Became a CIO
those skills are still usefully as are my ability to communicate with almost anybody from the guy in the warehouse to the CEO.

Great point, DBK. I completely agree with you. Every job regardless of the direct relation to your career specialization teach us useful lessons. I started my career as accountant and I am still a member of the professional accounting body. Things I learned in finance helps me in number of ways in my current role and helps me communicate effectively with business executives, understanding their minds, and explaining the ultimate impact of the project/task on financial statements.
Sara Peters   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 3:37:55 PM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
@geeky @Zaius  IT at the US Open is mainly about enhancing the experience of the audience, media, coaching staff, and players... although it can't do much to help the players if they're just not serving well that day.  :)  And a lot of it is about managing crowds and managing huge amounts of traffic. We'll give you more details about it on Monday.
Sara Peters   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 3:33:34 PM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
@Marif  I completely agree that a CIO needs a good team. And, as Larry says, if a CIO is the most technical person on the team, then there's a probably a problem. As long as they know enough to manage a strong team and hire strong professionals, they can be very effective.
soozyg   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 11:56:33 AM
Re: How I Became a CIO
I was recently told by a resume writer to only go back as far as the last 5-10 years on your resume since that's all prospective employers see as relevant these days.  I think that's crazy. 

I recently read an article by an agent from that your resume should not be more than 2 pages tops. Mine has been 3! So I cut it back.

I do understand that about only going back 5-10 years ago. At least for me, as a freelancer,  I can tell you new clients are not interested in experience, they are only interested in the most recent project and what sample you can provide for them on the spot or very recently.
soozyg   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 11:50:00 AM
writing and editing
Up to my early twenties I was very uncomfortable writing and I didn't understand editing. I took a job at a magazine out of college because I had grown up in publishing (the business end), I was comfortable in it, and I saw that magazine publishing had a faster pace.
Pedro Gonzales   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 10:50:59 AM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
@ Marif.  You are right.  At this community, there has been many articles that support this idea of bringing the right people on your team, a group of people that have a good attitude to help the CIO meet their goals.
geeky   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 6:02:42 AM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
@Zaius: Im not sure whether tennis has any direct links with IT. Indirectly it's being linked since the training session videos, statistics and other softwares are being used.
Hayder   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/19/2013 12:59:11 AM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
Hospice I think that best team comprises of all who know their working and are effective communicator as well. If you put a good team with bad administrator you are at loss and if you put good adiminstrator with bad team the result is same. The best remefy is to put good team with good administrator who knows his job well.
Zaius   How I Became a CIO: Larry Bonfante, US Tennis Association   8/18/2013 11:58:56 PM
Re: multiple careers are a benefit
It will be quite faschinating to know about Larry. I am really curious to know how he got there. And, there are a secret desire to know what role IT plays in tennis. From outside, it is difficult to guess.
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