Meet Vinny Licht – 2023 Chapter President
President, FWSIM | CIO Advisor & Board Member | CIO, Tauck, Inc. (Retired)
Vinny recently retired from Tauck, Inc. but remains active with board work, CIO advisory services, mentoring of IT leaders, and serving as President of our Fairfield / Westchester Society for Information Management chapter. He resides with his wife of 42 years, Diane Weber, at their home in Congers, NY, just five miles away from where Vinny grew up and where his parents still reside. Diane is a published poet, and teaches special education English and biology in the local high school. Vinny and Diane have two children, a son Tim who works at Tauck, is living in Manhattan with his wife Maggie, a journalist at the NY Times, and a daughter, Piera who is living in Boston and is working with VisibleBody, a medical App company. One of Vinny’s favorite traditions is a summer vacation every July in North Wildwood, NJ with their children, and often they are joined by extended family.
Vinny’s education was in mathematics and computer science, and he began his technology career as a programmer at Avon Products where he and Diane met, and he spent 24 years. After a successful start in programming, he moved into management beginning with leading application development teams. He then expanded his knowledge and experience with diverse management roles at Avon across a wide range of disciplines including IT infrastructure services, Telecommunications, IT customer service & help desk, IT security and data center management.
“I had a terrific opportunity at Avon and was able to work with outstanding professionals, learn many IT disciplines, deliver exciting app dev projects, improve processes, and help grow and develop teams.” -Vinny
After leaving Avon, Vinny did some consulting and briefly was an industry analyst / expert on retail systems. Next, he joined Tauck as CIO in 2002, a position he held for 19 years.
Time as CIO at Tauck
Tauck is a luxury travel company that delivers high end escorted tour, riverboat, and small ship journeys all over the world. Upon joining Tauck he led improvements to IT Service and system reliability, and then worked on the replacement of the legacy reservation system. Over the years at Tauck, Vinny rebuilt the IT team and led the implementation of many new applications as well as establishing a strong security posture. He credits his success at Tauck to strong partnerships with the senior executives, the board and the Tauck family as well as excellent work from the IT team. Some memorable experiences include rolling out laptops and a tour operation application to Tauck’s tour directors worldwide, creating a Tauck travel App for customers to use on their smartphones, and establishing fast, free internet for Tauck riverboat travelers on the rivers across Europe.
In 2020, Tauck was crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, as travel was suspended in 2020 from March through mid 2021. It was a challenging time as Tauck had to survive the travel shutdown for over a year without any income. This led, unfortunately, to pay cuts, furloughs, and lay-offs across the company as the travel operation was on hold. Tauck continued to operate the call center and a downsized team to support customers with the cancellation and rebooking of travel and eventually beginning to operate again as travel began to open in mid 2021. Vinny decided in late 2020 to work with Tauck’s senior management to name his successor and to transition the IT team to the new leader. “I was retiring a little earlier than I was planning but with IT projects on hold it seemed the ideal time to transition to a new leader to take Tauck into its post-pandemic future.” -Vinny. After a six-month transition, Vinny retired at the end of June 2021 just as travel was beginning again.
Life after Tauck
Vinny has through the years, enjoyed roles on non-profit boards, first a childcare center where he was board chair for 12 years, then a theatre company where he was board chair for five years. In 2019, Vinny joined the board of the Fairfield Westchester SIM chapter as secretary, in 2021 & 2022 took on program development and sponsorship, and now in 2023 serves as our chapter’s President. His work on the FWSIM board has been particularly rewarding since he retired from Tauck as it provides the opportunity to interact with many technology leaders on both technical and leadership topics. “I’ve really enjoyed the networking and engagement with the board and in particular the members attending the monthly programs and the pod meetings, and it feels great to be giving something back to the field that has given me so much for my entire career.” -Vinny.
While at Tauck, Vinny and his family took advantage of Tauck Travel opportunities with tours through the southwest, national parks, San Francisco, wine country, Alaska, the northwest (Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver), Canada’s capital cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec), Across Europe visiting Scotland, London, Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice, and riverboat trips down the Danube from the Netherlands to the Black Sea! These experiences have led to a love of travel for Vinny and now in retirement he is hoping to start traveling abroad again with Diane in 2023! Vinny is also having the time to join the local gym, work with a personal trainer and get back to playing golf again after a long absence from the game.
Written in collaboration with Vinny Licht, Beverly Lieberman and Montos Vakirtzis.