A former Chief Information Officer (CIO) at industry leader Hewlett-Packard (HP) has answered the alluring call of an Internet start-up. Mei-lin Cheng, a 25-year HP veteran, has signed-on to become the new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Vice President of Engineering for WineryExchange.com, the premier online global business-to-business marketplace for wine growers, wineries, suppliers and retailers.
Ms. Cheng will be joined at WineryExchange by several of her former HP colleagues. Ted Morris and Michael Schmidt, two experienced senior executives who worked with Ms. Cheng at HP, will be assuming the roles of Director of Technology Operations and Director of Product Development at WineryExchange. Other former colleagues of Ms. Cheng who will be joining her technology team at WineryExchange include Noe Gonzales, Supply Chain Product Manager; Patti Hutchison, Product Development Manager; and Byron Lai, Senior Architect.
As CIO for one of four HP businesses, Ms. Cheng was responsible for a $500 million budget and more than 400 employees. She and her team are widely credited with re-engineering HP’s supply chain management for the Internet age, transforming the way billions of dollars of HP revenue are processed. A true celebrity in the often-overlooked world of engineering management, Ms. Cheng, along with her team, was the subject of both an extensive profile in Fortune Magazine and a frequently cited business school case study.
“The greatest contribution my team and I made at HP was re-organizing how customers and vendors interacted. We showed that we could bring technology, organizations and people together to fundamentally re-design business processes. It was also personally gratifying for me to see the influence it had on people — we created an organization that was passionate about continuous learning,” said Mei-lin Cheng, explaining her recent appointment as CTO of WineryExchange. “We now face a similar challenge at WineryExchange, where we are re-inventing how business is transacted in the $100 billion wine industry. My team and I accepted this challenge for the opportunity to overhaul the business practices of an entire industry. It’s going to be even more fun than overhauling a single enterprise.”
“I’m already looking at wine differently,” added team member and WineryExchange Supply Chain Product Manager Noe Gonzales. “Now at dinner I see the bottle, the label, the cork, as well as the wine — and wonder which vendors and what transactions brought them together for my enjoyment.”
At WineryExchange, Ms. Cheng and her team will be developing a comprehensive online business-to-business commerce site for wine industry participants. The WineryExchange web site will offer a marketplace for direct transactions between buyers and sellers of bulk wine, grapes, winery supplies, industry services, wine market information, and more. The company has already established strategic relationships with the wine industry’s largest wine broker and with the industry’s most respected market analyst.
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“By any measure, Mei-lin and her colleagues are a world-class team. They have an incredible track record of implementing innovative, large-scale trading systems,” said Peter Byck, president of WineryExchange. “This engineering team is going to introduce the biggest technology change to affect the wine business since the invention of the corkscrew.”
WineryExchange.com is a neutral B2B marketplace serving winegrowers, wineries, suppliers and retailers. Founded in 1999 by leading wine industry, financial, and technology executives, the company provides products, services and real-time market information for every link in the wine industry value chain — from the dirt to the bottle. The Web site is also the premier forum for discussion, research and news affecting the wine industry worldwide. WineryExchange has received financial backing from venture investors Venrock Associates, 3i, and vTraction, and from prominent angel investors including Draper Richards and Fred Warren, founder of Brentwood Associates. Transactions will begin on the WineryExchange Web site in the second quarter of this year.