Get to know nio’s new CPO: Sven Gerjets

Hot off the press...a few words from nio CPO, Sven Gerjets.

"Since I announced my new position as the Chief Product Officer at nio I have gotten a lot of questions as to why I went from a CIO role to a CPO role and even more so why I went from a Fortune 500 company to a startup that is just coming out of stealth. The story is both interesting and serendipitous.

We closed the sale of Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications in the summer of 2016. Upon leaving I assumed I would take a bit of time off but ultimately I would end up taking another large transformational CIO role. In fact, I had made up my mind that I would change industries, and take a run at retail. I began speaking to a few large retail organizations that were looking to transform so they could better compete with their digital pure play rivals. While I was interviewing I met Doug (nio CEO) through a mutual friend at Intel. Doug and I started having lunch once a month or so, he would tell me about what was happening at and I would share what was happening in my interviews. Interestingly the more I spoke to retailers about transforming their IT organizations the more I thought that nio was the perfect answer to their time to market and innovation dilemmas.

Several of the companies I was interviewing with had existing CIOs that were seated. They had little idea, if any, that the company was looking to replace them. This can be a bit concerning if you think about it. These unfortunate leaders were so disconnected from their business partners that a full blown search was happening and they didn’t have a clue. The common issue was time to market. Legacy IT systems and legacy mindsets were slowing the rate at which the business could change directly impacting the competitiveness of the company. “Oh if we just had a different CIO”…

After several of these CIO interviews and several lunches with Doug, my future became abundantly clear. I have been doing large scale digital and organizational transformation for the last 15 years and I was happy enough to sign up for my next transformational CIO role. The thing is, this path would only allow me to help one company. With nio, it was clear that I could help many more CIOs transform their legacy systems, compete in the coming age of billions of connected devices, and become heroes to their business partners. Now that is a mission I can get behind!

Coming off of a long string of IT leadership roles gives me an incredible amount of empathy for what CIOs face. Most startup CPOs are trying to bridge the gap between the customer, the product organization and the technical organization. I’ve walked many miles in my customers shoes. I can empathize with what my customers are dealing with and how they are being evaluated by their business partners. I can see what is coming for my customers… a flood of IoT demand, unclear use cases to test, time to market that is too short and legacy systems that are too slow. My goal is to continue to make a digital transformation platform that helps CIOs be heroes -- CIOs that are supported by their business partners because they are beating their business objectives, not CIOs that are being replaced without their knowledge. Technology leaders have to watch out for each other so my choice is obvious…I am a Chief Information Officer acting in a Chief Product Officer's capacity and this is going to be an amazing ride!"