Data News



Safety first.In order to avoid the further spread of covid-19, Data News has decided to cancel the physical organization of the CIO of the Year 2021 scheduled for November 30th. The current health crisis linked to covid-19 imposes barrier gestures which don’t allow optimal networking.

We are convinced that when we are able to come together, it will be a unique opportunity reconnect with your peers and other leading voices from the ICT world, celebrate the CIO of the Year together, make new connections, and have meaningful conversations.

We apologize for any inconvenience this decision may cause and thank you for your understanding.

The winners of the ICT/Digital Project of the Year as well as the CIO of the Year will be highlightened in the magazine dated November 30th and announced on our website.

Data News is proud on the winners


Elke Laeremans – CIO/COO Torfs

Watch the interview

ICT / Digital Project of the Year

ICT/Digital Project of the Year 2021 Public

ICT/Digital Project of the Year 2021 Private
Deskalot Partena

Watch the interviews




Who will be the successor to Guido Lemeire, CIO at NMBS-SNCB, as ‘CIO of the Year’? Who do you think deserves the title CIO of the Year 2021? The voting list has been determined by the editorial staff of Data News. The voting has ended.

The names, included in the list, will be the top 3 of the CIO’s active in our country or Belgians working abroad. They have proven that the job of CIO is one of the most exciting, challenging and important functions in the business world today. Thanks to their visionary approach, they have been successful at using ICT tools for the benefit of operational management. The CIO’s have, in the course of their careers, demonstrated strategic vision, leadership, personality and the capacity to contribute to an organisation’s business strategy.

The winner of the award ‘CIO of the Year 2021’ will be chosen by a professional jury of specialists and by the readers of Data News (online voting).


The CIO of the Year 2021 contest wants to reward ICT projects and digital projects which have been successfully completed and which are innovative both in the use of technology as well in the business approach. The contest is open to both the private and public sector and to both large and small or medium sized organisations.

The emphasis is on ‘innovation’; projects that have achieved real added value for a company or organisation thanks to clever use of digital technology. Technological innovation is important, but the impact on the business also plays a very important role.

The size of the company or the scope of the project is not important. Clever, innovative, smaller applications have just as much chance of winning as large and expensive projects. You just need to be able to demonstrate that the innovative ICT Project has given the business a real boost or added value!


Elke Laeremans
CIO/COO at Torfs

Elke Laeremans has been CIO at shoe retailer Torfs since 2018, and has a clear customer focus. ‘Being a people person and working for a truly customer-oriented company, it is my responsibility to focus on the fine balance between operational excellence and continuous improvement whilst empowering and taking care of our employees and putting the customer at the heart of everything we do’, she says.
Elke Laeremans started her career as a software developer twenty years ago and has since held just about every possible role. In 2001 she entered the world of CRM as a functional analyst/developer, after which she shifted towards project management and business consulting: bridging the gap between business and IT is a clear common thread in her career. Since 2011 Elke has taken on different roles in general IT management.
In 2018 she took charge of IT at shoe retailer Torfs. To add to the challenge, she also became chief operating officer in the turbulent year of 2020, alongside her job as a CIO. This combination makes her capable of handling all the challenges of the digital age.
‘As head of Operations and IT I am in the unique position to lead and organize the backbone of our organization, making sure Torfs gets the right structure, processes and technology to support our business and to drive sustainable growth. I oversee the day to day operations of our IT, logistics and e-fulfillment departments. We create a caring environment with room for personal growth so everyone feels empowered to keep on wowing our internal and external customers.’
Elke Laeremans is also the coach of the project management office, and thus facilitates a transverse, agile project organization, in order to meet strategic goals and keep up with the rapidly changing expectations. ‘Why do I love my job? Because it’s not just about technology or organizational structure. It’s about customer love and finding the right balance.’ Duly noted.

Wim Nagels

Since 2019 Wim Nagels has been CIO at DPD in a dynamic, high growth business environment under rapid change. He is a passionate, entrepreneurial IT executive supporting business with developing IT & digital strategies. He’s experienced in detecting challenges and opportunities, finding solutions and thinking outside of the box: skills which were clearly needed in the past two years at parcel delivery specialist DPD.
Wim Nagels is a strong financial business leader with a clear focus on customers and consumers. He sets an example with his risk-based understanding and support of the business. He is able to see where DPD is headed and position his IT and security departments to help get the company there. He builds and promotes strong teams to head in that direction, and he also motivates his teams to reach departmental KPI’s as quickly as possible.
‘Don’t just think of DPD as a parcel delivery company. For me, DPD is gradually becoming a data company that is delivering parcels’, he says. Behind that catchphrase is a clear strategy that gives DPD the necessary flexibility to react quickly and in an agile way. ‘My task within DPD is to move from a support organization to a critical business enabler, and I’m proud to have realized some initiatives that bring us exactly in that business enablement position.’
In total, Wim Nagels has almost 25 years of IT experience in various roles. He started his career as a helpdesk engineer, network administrator and database administrator. Before joining DPD he already had global IT director responsabilities at Ontex, a global manufacturer of hygiene products, and earlier at A.Schulman, a manufacturer of plastic compounds. In 2012 he was named ‘ICT Manager of the Year’ for large organizations.

Sophie Marchal
CIO at AXA Belgium

Quality of service, customer experience, partners and employees are the top priority for Sophie Marchal, CIO at AXA Belgium. ‘We focus on three aspects: availability and performance of the applications, which includes the necessary security to protect our users; the user experience, which must be tailored to the customer and constantly improved; and of course modernizing the applications but also moving our Infrastructure to the Cloud’, says Sophie Marchal: ‘Those are the basic elements before we can begin to innovate.’ 

Since September 2018, as CIO at AXA Belgium, she has been working with her teams to deliver solutions that customers, partners and employees enjoy using. With infrastructure increasingly becoming a commodity, Sophie Marchal believes IT should evolve from a support function towards developing solutions in close collaboration with the business, for example, through agile teams.

‘IT revolves around people. AXA has understood this well. We are lucky to have highly experienced employees, whom we encourage to exchange knowledge with the youngest recruits. We also encourage internal mobility; I am living proof of that myself’, states Sophie Marchal. All of the IT professionals at AXA Belgium make a difference by contributing to the company and improving the lives of customers, partners and employees. ‘We act for human progress by protecting what matters!’, she says.

Sophie Marchal is an industrial engineer in Micro-Electronics and went on to earn an MBA from KU Leuven. She started her career in 1993 with Alcatel Space & Defense. After working in the telecom sector (KPNO & Telenet), Sophie joined Axa Tech in 2006, where, after holding various positions, she was appointed general manager from 2013 to 2017. Since September 2018, she has been leading the IT department of AXA Belgium.


CIO of the Year

Elke Laeremans
CIO/COO at Torfs


CIO of the Year 2021
Public award

Vaccinnet+ /

CIO of the Year 2021
Private award

Deskalot Partena


The specialist jury includes representatives from the academic world, the business world and the editorial team.

CIO of the Year

The winner in the CIO of the Year category will be decided by the jury, as well as by the readers of Data News (online voting).

Digital Project of the Year

The professional & academic jury will decide upon the final winners.



Freddy Van den Wyngaert


Chris De Backer


Daniel Lebeau


Sabine Everaet
(Coca-Cola Europe)


Luc Verbist
(De Persgroep)


Cécile Gonfroid


Veerle Lozie


Peter Bal


Herman De Prins


Bjorn Van Reet
(Kinepolis Group)


Erwin Verstraelen
(Port of Antwerp)


Filip Michiels
(TUI (Western Region))


Guido Lemeire


Interested in Sponsoring?


Account Manager
+32 476 93 17 66

More information?

Marianne Follebouckt

Event Manager
+32 473 92 50 23


With the kind collaboration

Gold Partner

Silver Partner

Cookie Instellingen