Chief technology officers are instrumental in helping companies, not-for-profits and government organizations of all sizes overcome challenges and thrive. Indiana’s top performing CTOs are not only leading their organizations to greatness, but innovating and executing visionary plans to ensure future success.

This August, IBJ and TechPoint hosted the first-ever CTO of the Year awards breakfast to honor the men and women who develop the IT strategies and systems that power their enterprises, serve their customers and fuel growth.

Click here to see all 15 honorees and finalists and links to full stories about their backgrounds and accomplishments.

Here are Indiana’s Top 5 CTOs of 2015:

Debra Champ, Director of Technology — Indianapolis Public Library

debraDebra Champ started her IT career in the big leagues … health care. She cut her teeth at Anthem and kick-started HIPPA compliance efforts at Community Health Network.

Now she’s in the public sector, where she always has her taxpayer hat on. That means she and her 15-person staff can’t always jump on the latest innovation.

Not that they ever stand still. With 550,000 registered cardholders, 1.8 million items in its collection and the user experience constantly evolving, the library system has to keep up technologically.

Besides the basics, Champ’s group tackles challenges such as incorporating audiobook downloads into the system, making Zinio — the world’s largest digital newstand — available for
magazine reading, and creating a strategy through 2020 for technologies that might not yet exist.

Will those technologies someday put the library out of business?

“I don’t see that ever happening,” Champ says. “It’s a great equalizer. Libraries are very important in a free society.

Brad Wheeler, Chief Information Officer, Vice President for Information Technologies and Professor of Information Systems — Indiana University

bradBrad Wheeler grew up “a 4-H kid” in Oklahoma. In eighth grade, he taught himself basic programming on a Wang computer. Soon, he was doing accounting for his dad’s car dealership while working at Radio Shack. His tech career was off and running.

After earning three degrees, including a doctorate at Indiana University, he became a tenure-track professor at the University of Maryland.

A call from IU brought him back to Indiana as a professor, and later as head of IT.

Wheeler has since been on the forefront of developments in digital textbooks, virtual software delivery, open-sourced software, and innovative learning environments across eight

Under Wheeler’s digital textbook program, students pay a small fee to get all the digital textbook products they need and authors still get paid.

Wheeler takes satisfaction in the fact that Computerworld has included IU on its list of 100 Best Places to Work in IT.

Jim Hutchins, Chief Technology Officer, Executive Vice President of Engineering and Technology — T2 Systems

jimMost people only park a few cars on a routine basis.  Jim Hutchins, head of IT for T2 Systems, is responsible for parking tens of thousands of cars.

T2’s services allow people to buy permits in advance, to know availability of spaces before driving, and to otherwise make parking management as seamless as possible.

Among its clients are Indiana, Purdue, Duke and Ball State universities and cities as large as Houston.

In 2014, T2 launched its first mobile app and upgraded its IT infrastructure, which helped to grow the company’s roster of customers 175 percent and boost revenue 107 percent.

At T2, Hutchins is accustomed to meeting the needs of very different clients.  “Some are absolutely revenue-driven,” he says.  “Some are service-driven and just want to cover the costs.  It’s interesting to watch the same piece of software used very differently.”

Hutchins’ biggest frustration when parking his own car?  Places that still accept only cash.

Bryan Everly, Chief Technology Officer — NextGear Capital

bryanCarmel-based NextGear Capital provides lines of credit to more than 20,000 auto dealers.  It was created through a merger in 2012, after which the Atlanta parent company decided NextGear needed to bring IT in house.

The company’s search for a new chief technology officer turned up Bryan Everly, who had worked for a who’s who of local tech firms:  Software Artistry, ExactTarget and Aprimo.

His first job at NextGear was to quickly add 120 software pros to an IT staff of three. Everly chose them not by grilling job candidates in intimidating interviews but by giving them a special project and seeing how they handled it.

The approach seems to have worked.  In two years his team helped grow loan volume from $1.6 billion to $3.2 billion.

Everly is a TechPoint board member and also serves on the Rose-Hulman Computer Science Advisory Board.  He’s committed to attracting tech headquarters to Indiana and keep existing ones here.

Mike Meadows, Chief Technology Officer, Vice President — Eli Lilly and Company

mikeMike Meadows, the 32-year Lilly vet, quips that he began working at Lilly right out of the sixth grade. Considering all his team has accomplished, it might seem like he’s been at Lilly that long.

His team’s achievements include implementing applications to support human resources, financial and manufacturing across Lilly’s global footprint; adapting IT infrastructure to support the mobile sales force; speeding up the launch of products through clinical trial efficiencies; and providing an infrastructure for high-performance computing to support drug discovery efforts.

Meadows recently help guide an IT downsizing that reduced expenses about 40 percent with no significant IT service disruptions.

He believes success in IT means being willing to evolve. Even his community involvement can help in that regard. Meadows is a member of TechPoint’s board among his many non-Lilly activities.

“We are supportive of anything that benefits the region,” he says.  “And when I connect with other tech leaders, it’s motivation for my own learning.”

Keep reading about Indiana’s top performing chief technology officers.