Intention and Innovation: Perspective from a CIO

Leadership Profile
Written by Leslie Lang

Rita Fisher

CIO & EVP of Supply Chain

Reynolds Consumer Products

APRIL 2024

Rita Fisher strongly believes in intentional leadership. The CIO and EVP of Supply Chain at Reynolds Consumer Products (RCP) defines an intentional leader as authentic, trusted, visible, transparent, and empathetic.  She adds that intentional leaders also embrace diversity and inclusivity.

“I know there are a lot of books written about it, but really I believe it's a recipe for creating a culture of innovation,” she says. “As a leader, our role is to inspire and create safe spaces to excel and fail, giving people permission to experiment with new things, and building an environment of collaboration and inclusivity.”

Journey through Business & IT

As a member of the RCP Leadership team, Rita is responsible for all aspects of the company’s Supply Chain and Information Technology, including strategies, policies, programs and business transformations leading to improved financial results and new customer experiences.  

Before joining RCP almost seven years ago, Fisher was a VP and Head of Global Business Services at Kraft Heinz, where she supported Finance, HR, Supply Chain, and IT.  During her 22 years in Kraft Heinz (formerly known as Kraft Foods), Rita held many global and regional roles in Information Technology and Supply Chain, including Head of Global IT and Senior Director of Supply Chain Transformation.  

She explains that her background is unique because her career was both in IT and business. “I have a really good grasp of both technology and the practical use of technology in the business world,” she explains.

She joined RCP as a CIO. “I created a strategy of digitizing our company and got everyone excited about our digital future,” she says.  Soon after joining RCP, she was asked to lead trade processes and systems, and after completion of this work, she took on the responsibility for Supply Chain as EVP. 

She says her CIO and EVP positions work well together. “Leading IT and Supply Chain enabled me to fully implement my vision of digitizing supply chain strategy because I'm not only responsible for the technical solutions, but for making it a reality and delivering business value.” 

Last year, Rita was also appointed as an independent Board member of Lamb Weston. 

Fisher says she has worked with and learned from many amazing people.

I capitalized on every job I had, I maximized all training that I attended, and took every opportunity to learn and advance, which defines who I am today.”

Fisher says she’s been on many diverse and intelligent teams. “I worked with many outstanding leaders that became my mentors and coaches and empowered me to achieve my best,” she says.

“I am a business technologist -- versus just the CIO -- because a significant amount of my career has been in the business world,” she says.

Connecting and Learning Through Community

Fisher calls Evanta a great place to meet people, learn and develop, discover new ideas, and create lasting relationships. “It's a very unique forum, where people can learn and network at the same time,” she says. “I met many CIOs through that forum and people who were aspiring to be CIOs. The topics were very relevant, and the sessions were small and allowed for dialogue and personal learning.”

She especially appreciated getting to know female CIOs because when she was getting started, most of the people in tech leadership were men. “It gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams,“ she says.

She also gets business ideas from people in other industries through Evanta. “Innovation spans from perspectives,” she says. “The more people you interact with from different industries, different companies, diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures, the more ideas you discover.”

I've been in consumer packaged goods all my life, so I know how this industry works. But the best ideas come from somebody looking at the same problem differently.”

Fisher says her goals are to deliver profitable volume growth while helping RCP’s people grow and create products people love.

“For me, it means inspiring people in the company and driving change through our vision of digitizing our company. I believe our people and technology, in collaboration with strong business goals, will enable our vision,” she explains. 

3 Keys to Success for CIOs

Fisher says technical skills are easy to learn and keep up with. “But I believe for leaders to be successful in today's world, the most critical thing is building relationships, communication and listening, and influencing others,” she says. 

“Building relationships and influencing skills enable leaders to relate to others, build consensus, negotiate effectively, and ultimately inspire action. Whether it's motivating a team to bring your vision to life, gaining support for an important project, or closing the deal, the ability to relate and influence can drive success and truly facilitate positive outcomes.”

She says it all comes down to three essential skills that executives must develop:

  1. CIOs need to be very clear about their organization's purpose and what value they contribute to the bigger enterprise. They need to understand their customer and business, set the vision, lead the transformation, and differentiate.
  2. Today’s CIO doesn’t just deliver technology projects, but is also a leader of data and analytics and tech across the entire enterprise. Fisher says a successful CIO needs to become an “enterprise governor.”
  3. Her last tip? Create talent. “My job is to inspire, develop, and grow our people.”

“When I became a CIO, I realized that it's not just about leading technical change. But it's about growing people, inspiring innovation, creating opportunities and learning for everyone around you. And leading with my head and my heart. 

“When you are really intentional about being the leader, then everything else falls right into place.”

To make connections with CIO peers and participate in discussions on the CIO role and more, apply to join your local community. Or, if you are already a member, sign in to MyEvanta to register for your community’s upcoming Executive Summit.

Special thanks to Rita Fisher and Reynolds Consumer Products.

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