SUREN GUPTAExecutive VP of Technology and Operations, Allstate
How long at Allstate: Since April 2011.
Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Designing and launching an Internet-based wireless data platform from scratch to allow the use of just-in-time, relevant information as part of a startup company.
Most important career influencer: My father. He taught me the values and ethics that have guided me as a leader and as a person. I continue to seek his wisdom to this day.
Decision I wish I could do over: Early in my career, I supported programs that tried to "boil the ocean." Over time, I've learned the value of scoping projects to ensure progress isn't impeded; breaking deliverables into smaller, manageable pieces; and building upon successful components.
ON THE JOB
Size of IT team: 4,300 employees
- Unify communications (integrating voice mail, email, and instant messaging) and expand on cloud computing capabilities.
- Innovate through partnering with business leaders in order to make investments that take advantage of disruptive technologies and industry trends.
- Move from a highly descriptive reporting culture to one that uses data for predictive analytic decision-making.
The next big thing for my business: We aim to more efficiently capitalize on changing customer behavior, letting customers interact seamlessly with the company on tablets and smartphones, wherever and however they prefer.
One thing I'm trying to do better: We want to strengthen our delivery capabilities through clearly defined project management standards and increased testing capabilities.
Lesson learned from the recession: As a society, we need a more realistic understanding of the economy and its impact on our individual lives and businesses. We must recognize and respond to market realities and be fully aware of both the risks and rewards of our actions.
What the federal government's top technology priority should be: We need to make attending college easier and should provide additional incentives to study math and science. It's also important to have the top teaching talent to help the next generation succeed in a competitive global job market.
Kids and tech careers: I will support my children in whatever career they choose and share with them the experiences of my career. Technology careers are still exciting, with innovative ideas and solutions being formed every day.
Degrees: Harvard Business School, Advanced Management Program; West Virginia University, master's in computer engineering; George Mason University, MBA
Leisure activity: Golf
Leader I'd like to have lunch with: Alan Greenspan--I respect his understanding of the world economy and his leadership on monetary policy
Business-related pet peeve: Those who don't take personal responsibility
If I weren't a tech chief, I'd be ... a physics and math teacher
Ranked No. 64 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500
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