Stephen Gold '81SVC Embraces the Human Side of Information Technology
Currently Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at CVS/Caremark, Gold has all of the experience and technical skills that make him the perfect fit for such an important position. But he also has something else – a deep appreciation for the person-centered aspects of his profession that causes him to stand out among his fellow industry professionals.
“The best part of my career is being able to do work that improves the lives of human beings,” he said. “I’ve worked in financial services. I’ve been in technology. I’ve been in Internet outsourcing. The thing that was always missing when I wasn’t working in health care was the aspect of the job where I got to do something that made a difference for human beings. There’s a part of me that’s the typical I.T. person – a bit of an introvert, focused more on the mechanics and the software. But as you get older and more mature and as your career advances you have to build out a different set of skills. And I’ve learned to appreciate and really respect the importance of caring for people.”
Gold came to St. John’s after earning an Associate’s degree from the City College of New York. He considered a number of colleges and universities where he could complete his four-year degree in Computer Science, and decided that St. John’s was the best fit for him.
Following graduation he began what would quickly become an impressive career in the computer technology industry by accepting a position at Dun & Bradstreet, where he had oversight responsibility for the company’s internal computer systems. After spending 10 years at Dun & Bradstreet, Gold moved on to management positions at a number of national and international corporations, including Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Merck Pharmaceuticals and Avaya, a business communications and technology company.
In his current position at CVS/Caremark, he is the most senior I.T. executive in the Fortune 13 company, with responsibility for all of the information technology inside an enterprise that generates annual sales of nearly $127 billion.
A genuinely humble man, Gold credits St. John’s with providing him with the knowledge and work ethic that helped him to succeed in his chosen career. He also acknowledges that the University exposed him to a value system that has remained with him since his days on campus.
“My Computer Science education was less about learning the little details about a specific programming language and more about learning how to sync and apply those skills to different situations,” he said. “That’s probably the most important skill that I learned there. Outside of the curriculum, what I learned and what has stayed with me was the idea that if you work hard and show dedication, the world is your oyster. I worked really hard when I was at St. John’s and the professors who I learned from were incredibly dedicated. They saw that I was putting the effort in and what I got back out of them was an endless commitment to help me succeed.”
Gold fondly recalls Professor Frank Servas as an example of an inspirational faculty member who had a significant impact on his life. He noted that it was a wonderful experience to study under this demanding scholar, and is happy that they have remained friends who share a mutual respect for each other even after all these years.
“Prof. Servas was one of the best professors that I ever had,” he said. “He was a challenging teacher who brought out the very best in his students. By the time I got to his class I had a really strong work ethic, and that helped me out tremendously. Part of that work ethic came from my family, and part of it was nurtured and became even stronger at St. John’s. I really believe that the University, and especially people like Prof. Servas, made me the person that I am today.”
And the feeling is mutual. When Gold recently came back to campus to speak to current Computer Science students, his former professor and mentor was in the audience. He was lavish in his praise for the student who went on to achieve outstanding success since leaving his classroom.
“Stephen was a top student,” he noted. “I assigned difficult computer programming problems in the class that he took with me and he got them all perfect. My main function as a college professor is to make the students think, and Stephen was able to do that very well. I’m very proud of him.”