Futurist, Executive Director & Dean

IT Leadership Academy

Wider Roles for CIOs

Posted by Thornton May | 9 Jun 2010


Thornton May is Futurist, Executive Director and Dean of the IT Leadership Academy. His extensive experience researching and consulting on the role and behaviors of Boards of Directors and “C” level  executives in creating value with information technology has won him an unquestioned place on the short  list of serious thinkers on this topic.  Thornton combines a scholar's patience for empirical research, a  stand-up comic's capacity for pattern recognition and a second-to-none gift for storytelling to the

information technology management problems facing executives.  

Thornton has established a reputation for innovation in time-compressed, collaborative problem solving  pioneering the Lyceum (an intense learning experience designed to keep ‘C’-level executives abreast of  emerging technology trends); the Directors’ Institute (a forum for Board members to increase their  awareness of technology management issues); and the Controller’s Institute (arena for European Chief Financial Officers to fine tune processes associated with making technology investments). Thornton designs  the curriculum that enables the mental models that allow organizations to outperform competitors, delight  customers and extract maximum value from tools and suppliers.

Thornton is currently Executive Director and Dean at the IT Leadership Academy and has served as:

Futurist & Researcher at Center for Advancing Business Through Information Technology at the W.P. Carey School of Business [Arizona State University];  Faculty and Executive Director of the CIO Institute at the Haas School of Business [UC Berkeley];   Executive Moderator at the Center for Corporate Citizenship – Carroll School of Management  [Boston College];   Executive Education Faculty Member at the Anderson School [UCLA] where he designed, managed  and delivered the “Managing the Information Resource” program;   Futurist - External Technology Advisory Board Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering; and was  Co-founder of the CIO Solutions Gallery at Fisher College of Business [the Ohio State University]. 

Thornton’s insights have appeared in the Harvard Business Review (on IT strategy); The Financial  Times (on IT value creation); The Wall Street Journal (on the future of the computer industry);  the  M.I.T. Sloan Management Review (on the future of marketing), American Demographics (on the  evolving demographics of Electronic Commerce), USA Today (on the future of the consumer  electronics industry), Business Week (on the future of CEO direct reports) and on National Public  Radio (debating the future practice of strategy with Professor Michael Porter).  Thornton is a  columnist at Computerworld, CIO Decisions, and has served as an Advisor to the Founding Editors

of Fast Company Magazine.

Thornton has appeared before the Congress of the United States serving as an expert witness on  large technology implementations and was responsible for ghost writing portions of the technology  track for the 1998 Davos Conference.

Thornton obtained his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Dartmouth College; his master’s  degree in industrial administration from Carnegie-Mellon University and developed his Japanese  language competence at the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan and Keio  University in Japan.

“Thornton is in the top tier of business technology industry intellectuals.  I personally think he is a  genius. My definition....smarter than me and most everybody else.... always is out front on ideas  and uses completely fresh perspectives on issues and challenges in business...and balances it all  with razor sharp wit. Nobody ever goes away after an encounter with Thornton without being  enriched.”

-- Barbra Cooper, CIO; Toyota USA

"Thornton May is the real deal. A daring intellectual in a business filled with fakes, Thornton  encourages us--no he FORCES us--to sit up, pay attention and think hard about the real issues we  face every day."

-- Seth Godin, Author of Permission Marketing, and Founder Yoyodyne

"It's not difficult for Thornton May to stay ahead of the curve, he helped build it"

-- Max Keiser, Vice-Chairman, Co-Founder; Hollywood Stock Exchange

"Thornton May is one of the brightest, most knowledgeable, and funniest consultants in the  information technology industry. He spots trends well in advance of most of the pundits, and he's extremely well-connected with a very impressive following."

-- Barry Rosenbaum, Managing Partner; RSA Ventures

"Despite the claims of consultants, nobody has answers, but Thornton gives you all of the  perspective you can handle.  He's the 360 consultant."

-- Robert A. DiStefano, Managing Director of Vanguard's Information Technology Division; The Vanguard Group

"Thornton May is an intellectual speed merchant. He can think faster than the few people who are smarter than he is, and he's smarter than the few people who are faster than he is--and that's a tough combination to top in any field."

-- Alan Webber, Founding Editor; Fast Company

"Thornton has an instant recognition and respect factor with Computerworld readers -- not because  he can be funny and outrageous (which he can) but because what he says makes them think about things in a different light. His ideas on IT leadership and his perspective on industry trends have a ring of truth about them, drawn as they are from his own experiences working with senior business and technology executives. He's also one of the liveliest speakers on the face of the earth, so it's enormous fun to watch him in action with a room full of startled execs who expected another boring Powerpoint presentation. Around our newsroom, he's known as the Robin Williams of IT!"

-- Maryfran Johnson, Editor-in-Chief; Computerworld Magazine

“Thornton May is a category-defying thinker about all things related to information technology, leadership and communications. He is a brilliant thinker, marvelous communicator, consultant and teacher. He single-handedly shepherds insights into the brains of the country's top CIOs, who collectively owe him an unrepayable debt of gratitude. Playing with him is always one of the most enjoyable parts of my professional  life.”

-- Andrew Zolli, author Catalogue of the Future & in-house Futurist at Popular Science Magazine

Thornton May