Why Diana McKenzie, Workday’s First CIO, Considers Herself a ‘Chief Experience Officer’

Diana McKenzie is the first serving Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. As an SVP and CIO, the tech executive oversees the $22.4 billion global information services organization’s internal deployment of Workday products and other technologies.

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“In my experience, nothing is more rewarding than accelerating business growth by evolving the ways an organization can take advantage of new technologies to unlock the potential in people and data,” said McKenzie, who stepped into her role at the software giant in February of 2016.

Prior to Workday, Diana was senior vice president and CIO at Amgen, where she spent over a decade applying cutting-edge analytics and information technology to keep the company ahead of its rivals. At Amgen, a client of Workday, McKenzie appeared on the company’s radar as she built relationships with senior management and proved her ability to help drive the company to more profitable growth. It was McKenzie who first introduced her company to Workday software. “I always wanted to be a CIO who implemented Workday,” she says, touting the digital platform as a “delightful” and “seamless” experience. She left Amgen just six months after implementing Workday at the company, seeing firsthand how it improved workforce engagement, talent acquisition and retention.

Before Amgen, the female tech executive in a traditionally male dominated industry worked her way up the ranks, serving in leadership roles at firms including Eli Lily and Company. Diana graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Computer Information Systems and Computer Technology.

Moving forward at Workday, Diana suggests that building the best team is her most important priority. The CIO employs a unique style of management in order to boost the value an IT department can deliver to an IT-centric company. She encourages her team to “think like product managers” and is passionate about developing a progressive “future of work” program with Workday. McKenzie believes CIOs should transform into “Chief Experience Officers” in order to better serve and drive returns for enterprise clients.

When she first began at Workday, she got busy with the company’s “Workday-on-Workday” initiative, a team of about twenty people who “spent all of their time working with the organization to maximize the way it used the product.” With such programs, Diana is attempting to partner IT more closely with Product Development and Engineering so to create a better dynamic between the business and help advance the platform based on the company’s own experience.

As Workday faces an increasingly crowded industry with the entrance of competitors including SAP and Oracle along with players such as NetSuite and Infor, Diana seeks to continue to win business with Workday’s “born-in-the-cloud” HRM and finance solutions.

McKenzie sees quick win areas in extending Workday’s business engagement to all areas across Workday and making sure that each of the company’s investments has an “outcomes focus.” That being said, she sees a huge opportunity in doubling down on investments in collaboration and communication.

Outside of her work at the software giant, McKenzie enjoys giving back and spending time with her husband and her sons. She writes on her LinkedIn page that she hopes to generate “maximum doses of adrenaline and/or endorphins.”

With about three decades of industry experience under her belt, Diana has held her fair share of leadership positions in trade, technology and governmental organizations. Diana is a co-chair on the board of directors at Long Term Care Services of Ventura County Inc., an organization which advocates for over 10,000 residents of skill nursing and assisted living facilities. The CIO has also held several influential roles in IT Pharma committees including PDUFA IT FDA Advisory Committees. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology” by the National Diversity Council.