Advice and Encouragement From Ed Trainor

Editor’s Note: Longtime RLF Facilitator Ed Trainor has retired after many years of service to RLF and SIM. During SIM Connect Live in May, 2019 Ed was presented with RLF’s “Lifetime Leader” award. Below are comments Ed made to the audience of RLF graduates, RLF facilitators and SIM Chapter leaders after receiving the award.

RLF Facilitator Bob Rouse (left) and RLF Director Kevin Ryan (right) present the 2019 RLF “Lifetime Leader” award to Ed Trainor, in recognition of Ed’s many years of service to RLF and SIM.

RLF Facilitator Bob Rouse (left) and RLF Director Kevin Ryan (right) present the 2019 RLF “Lifetime Leader” award to Ed Trainor, in recognition of Ed’s many years of service to RLF and SIM.

Ed Trainor’s Comments Upon Accepting RLF’s “Lifetime Leader” Award:

“Thank you for this honor.  As I accept this award, I’d like to share three things with everyone.

 First, I want to acknowledge the role that SIM has played in my personal development and my career development as well.  I want to echo what others have said and encourage all RLF grads to get involved in your SIM chapter. You’ll be getting something back that you won’t have any idea how beneficial it will be.  So, I strongly encourage you to do that – get involved with SIM.

Secondly, I want to share what a privilege it has been to be a part of RLF.  As a CIO I sent people to RLF for years.  And then the RLF Directors gave me the privilege of being an RLF Facilitator, and I want to thank them for that.

Third, I want to acknowledge Bob Rouse.  Bob has been a singular influence in my life as both a mentor and a friend. Bob is a very dear friend of mine and I hold him in the highest regard.  All I want to say is I love you Bob.

Again, thank you everyone for this great honor.”

Editor’s Note: As an additional example of Ed Trainor’s wisdom he so readily shared with RLF graduates through the years, republished below is an article Ed Trainor shared earlier this year with RLF alumni.


By Ed Trainor

Reflecting back on over 25 years as a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and concurrent membership in the Society for Information Management (SIM), I would like to share some observations that I hope may be beneficial to those who are following a similar career path.  My personal story (which I am sure is not unique) has taken me through marriage, divorce, single parenthood and re-marriage while also pursuing a successful CIO career in several challenging corporate environments, and I now know that one of the keys to being an effective leader is to have personal and financial stability in your life. Some additional observations about effective leadership that I also believe to be important are offered below.

·         Leaders often try to achieve success in organizations by making changes in strategy, structure and/or culture – and of these, effecting change in the culture is by far the most difficult but also the most important.

·         The ability to embrace change and effectively manage change initiatives is critical to your success, and the skills that got you where you are now will not take you where you need to be in the future unless you continually invest in yourself and others - and SIM’s Regional Leadership Forum (RLF) is an ideal way to do so.  Your personal success is dependent on the quality of the people with whom you surround yourself so remember Steven Covey’s admonition to “find your voice and help others find theirs.”

·         Having something credible to say is very important, and that requires that you have a deep understanding of your organization’s business strategy and how your company operates – particularly in the areas of operations, customer service delivery and the deployment of technology.

·         Your network is also very important to your success and many people think that having a large network is desirable; however, I contend that it is more important to instead have a smaller network in which you have developed selective deep relationships. You must be prepared to give as much or more to this network than you take from it so that you can depend on it for assistance if and when it is needed.

·         Most organizations are inherently inefficient and thus vulnerable to disruption through digital transformation and IT leadership is pivotal to successful digital change initiatives; however, many companies opt for other leadership approaches such as employing a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) largely due to lack of successful demonstrated transformational leadership and a credible partnership on the part of the IT leaders. Business models are changing and the CIO/IT leadership role must change as well.

·         Character and people skills matter far more than intelligence and “smarts,” and while occasional failure is inevitable it is also a great foundation on which to learn and build.

I am now at the end of my professional career and I want to close by reflecting on the importance of giving something back.  You need to get involved in activities outside of your immediate work place – e.g., a professional association such as the Society for Information Management (SIM) or similar professional activity.  Giving back in this or another form without any expectation of personal reward benefits not only those who are trying to follow in your footsteps but it also may lead to unexpected career opportunities as you get known outside of your immediate work environment.  I know that it has for me on more than one occasion.



Ed Trainor served as a Chief Information Officer (CIO) for over 25 years leading transformation efforts in the transportation, utility and entertainment industries.  He is also a past-national President of the Society for Information Management (SIM) and founded and facilitated SIM’s Pacific Southwest Regional Leadership Forum (RLF); in addition, he co-authored two textbooks on information strategy and has been an adjunct faculty member at UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business where he has also served as the Executive Director of UCI’s Center for Digital Transformation.