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Ex-CIO Walton Makes Shift from C-Suite to Strategic Adviser

San Mateo County’s former technology chief is now affiliated with IMPEX Technologies, a Southern California company that focuses on the public sector. Walton aims to help the firm grow its footprint in Northern California and other parts of the state, including with city and county governments.

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A career technology executive with long experience in the public and private sector has returned to the private side.

Jon Walton, former chief information officer (CIO) for San Francisco and San Mateo County, has accepted a role as senior adviser for IMPEX Technologies, a Southern California-based provider of data center and cloud services as well as business automation, cybersecurity and managed services.

Walton is widely known in California for the multiple roles he’s held in the public sector, most recently as San Mateo County’s CIO. Before that, Walton’s government roles included serving as CIO for the city/county of San Francisco and, prior to that, as deputy CIO for the city of San Jose. In his nonwork life, Walton also served as a trustee for the Pacific Grove Unified School District.

In addition to his public roles, Walton was a senior manager for Unisys, handling sales, customer relations, marketing and projects for public-sector clients in the western states.

In a recent interview with Techwire, Walton said he was drawn to IMPEX largely due to a long relationship he’s had with Rajiv Shah, who founded the company in 1991.

“When I was thinking about leaving government, there’s a tradition with a lot of companies to approach ex-CIOs to be advocates and things like that,” Walton told Techwire. “I thought about a role like that, but I couldn’t see myself really being the best advocate for any single technology, if you will. I’ve always thought of myself as more strategic – what’s best for the customer and what is their current state and what do they want to be, and what are the best pieces to get them there.

“I had the good fortune and knew Rajiv over the years. … We met and talked, and I’ve always respected what he does with IMPEX. He built that company himself, founded it and has built it and owns it and runs it and is very involved in all the details of it, and most of his business is public sector-focused. That’s kind of rare, if you ask me, in the VAR-SLED (value-added reseller, state/local education) space.

“He’s done a lot of work in Southern California, and he’s started to expand his business into Northern California, but he was really looking for someone to come in at a senior level and give him and his team advice and support on how to grow his successful business … in Northern California. That’s why I joined him, and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m learning a lot from him, and I’m just trying to find ways to help my ex-CIO friends out in the cities and counties look at different technology options and figure out ways to solve their problems.”

Walton said expanding IMPEX’s footprint in Northern California is his primary focus, “but there’s always opportunities to go down to Southern California and work with folks, as well.”

Walton said that with more than 20 years in the public sector, he’s built a lot of personal relationships that he doesn’t want to exploit now that he’s in the private sector.

“You don’t want to abuse the friendships you have and be seen as just another salesperson that’s trying to sell something to make a number for that quarter.”

Walton is more comfortable advising than he would be selling. He has no quotas, and his compensation isn’t tied to a revenue target, he said.

“We’re really there to give advice and guidance and mentorship.”

Walton is a graduate of Humboldt State University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in land use planning and management/development.
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.