Claire Rutkowski Feature

photo of Claire Rutkowski turned and smiling

Claire Rutkowski is the Senior Vice President and CIO Champion for Bentley Systems.

Claire Rutkowski joined Bentley in 2016 from MWH where she served as CIO, responsible for delivering IT strategy, services, and support to 7,000 engineering professionals globally. At Bentley, Claire led the global IT organization, shaping and delivering a technology agenda across Bentley’s business. By collaborating with executive leadership, she ensured Bentley leveraged the most advanced solutions to achieve the goals of the company and its users.

Claire recently augmented her role to include serving as the company’s CIO Champion, using her extensive engineering background to advocate for CxOs at engineering firms and serve as a bridge between Bentley and its engineering accounts. Claire is a PMP and has received numerous awards, most recently the Top 80 CIOs You Should Know in 2020, and the Top 10 Most Inspiring Women Leaders in 2022.

[Q U I C K   N O T E S]

  • Position:  SVP, CIO Champion
  • Industry: Technology, Software
  • Location:  Chicago, IL USA
  • Website: Bentley Systems
  • LinkedIn: Claire Rutkowski
  • Instagram:   
  • Twitter:

Claire, can you start off by telling us about yourself and why you chose technology?

photo of Claire Rutkowski leaning forward and smilingLet’s see. If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I didn’t start out choosing technology. I went to school with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Between college and law school, I took a year away from my studies to work and pay down my student loans. I found myself working at a law firm around the same time computers were becoming ubiquitous in the workplace. I took to them like a duck takes to water, and was excited by how easy technology could make things. Instead of typing the same information over and over again, I could create macros to run against a set of templates and just plug the information in once. Similarly, rather than having multiple spreadsheets of data, I could create a database to make that information available in one place for the whole company. I fell in love with the efficiencies and value technology can provide, and decided to stay in tech rather than go on to law school.

Can you tell us what drives you to be successful as a technology executive?

There are two main drivers that have pushed me to be successful – the first is a need to add value. From the very beginning of my career, I have always felt a need to contribute and make things better. This has caused me to raise my hand, to volunteer, and to make suggestions that drive improvement. And that in turn was noticed by others and helped me get ahead. It should be said, though, that getting ahead was never the goal… only adding value. The second driver for me is helping people. Whether this meant using technology to make peoples’ lives easier at work, or by demonstrating and living effective leadership and genuine kindness, I have always been driven to make life better for those around me.

Tell us about your role and your technology vision of the company in the next 2-3 years.

photo of Claire Rutkowski leaning over a chairAt Bentley, I serve as the CIO Champion. I leverage my rich AEC industry expertise to advocate for engineering firms at Bentley, and to represent Bentley back to those firms.  I follow industry trends and try to ensure we are meeting the needs of the industry, while helping our users advance on their digital journey. As far as my technology vision goes, I am really proud of Bentley’s strategy of providing full asset lifecycle tools such as the Infrastructure Cloud, including ProjectWise, SYNCHRO, AssetWise, and the iTwin Platform, including iTwin Capture, iTwin Experience, and iTwin IoT. The AEC industry is entering a phase of rapid change, with automation, visualization, digitization and the use digital twins coming to the fore. The new currency will be data, not files, and I’m so excited to be part of that!

What’s the one or two accomplishments that you’re proud of?

I think the biggest honor I have had over the years is the opportunity to lead and mentor some high-performing teams, and some great professionals. I really find the most satisfaction in guiding and helping others succeed.

What advice do you have for other up-and-coming technology leaders?

I have a few pieces of advice for other technology leaders. The really good leaders already know and practice these things, but for the up-and-comers:

  • First, always have a strategy and ensure that your strategy actually supports and fulfills the overall company’s strategy. You cannot function on an island.
  • Second, look out for your teams. It isn’t all about the technology or the projects. These are enablers and tools. What really matters is making sure the people on your team feel comfortable, supported and valued. They need to know you genuinely care.
  • And third, find mentors and sponsors.  No one gets ahead without help.  I have had many mentors and a couple of sponsors over the years, and their help and support has been invaluable.

Are you active on social media professionally?  If so, what platforms work best for engaging your followers?

photo of Claire Rutkowski with hand under chin and smilingI use LinkedIn professionally, and try to stay as active as I can.

What is the major difference between being an entrepreneur and working in marketing?

Typically, whatever I do and build is my content, unless I sell it. Working in marketing is all about helping build others’ brands, helping sell other people and companies’ products and services.

Who was your biggest influence?

My biggest influencer is my Dad. He was an engineer, and was always working away onsite somewhere or another while I was growing up.  He taught me the importance of hard work, of never giving up, and of searching for solutions rather than complaining about problems.

What is the most challenging part of your work as a CIO Champion?

The hardest part of being a CIO Champion is probably prioritizing my time.  There are so many ways we can change and improve the way we do things in the AEC industry, and companies are more ready to embrace digital transformation than they have ever been, which is super exciting.  There just aren’t enough hours to do it all!

What do you have your sights set on next?photo of Claire Rutkowski smiling in business suit

I’m really looking forward to deepening my relationship with our users and helping advance their digital strategies.

What is a day in your life like?

Whew.  That’s a tough one.  My schedule is actually pretty varied. Some weeks I am traveling to attend or speak at a conference.  Other weeks are spent largely on the phone, with our users or account managers, trying to find ways to help firms go digital faster and more efficiently. And some days are spent creating content – writing articles, thinking about what’s next, and trying to find ways to help us do things better.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love traveling (give me London or Paris any day of the week!), reading mysteries (British detective fiction) and science fiction (my son got me into Warhammer 40K and The Witcher), and cooking.

What makes you smile?

There are way too many things to list here. Seeing kindness in action definitely makes me smile. It might sound sappy but it is true. Watching my kids show their personalities and succeed makes me smile. Helping others makes me smile. Spending time with family and friends always makes me happy. I love a good pun, and finding the perfect purse never fails to disappoint.

What are you never without?photo of Claire Rutkowski leaning forward and looking to the right

I am a pretty practical person, so I am never without my phone, my keys, and a first-aid kit. Oh – and my to-do list.

What scares you?

Bugs. Not a fan.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

London is my favorite city in the world.

Other work, published articles, interviews or accomplishments:

• Coming Soon!
Podcast on Coruzant

~ Claire


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