CIO Profiles: Greg Schwartz Of USAA - InformationWeek
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7/18/2013
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CIO Profiles: Greg Schwartz Of USAA

This CIO wants vendors to know his company's mission and show him how to achieve its goals.

Career Track



Greg Schwartz  Senior VP and CIO, USAA

Greg Schwartz
Senior VP and CIO, USAA

How long at USAA: Thirty years at this insurance company.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: One of my proudest moments was hearing our CEO, Joe Robles, describe IT as an enabler for USAA. Having a great IT team is part of my answer, but the icing on the cake is having their dedication and engagement recognized by our business partners and our CEO.

Most important career influencer: A former IT leader at USAA who taught me leadership best practices. For example, he taught me the value of transparency and having honest, open dialogue on controversial issues.

Decision I wish I could do over: Early in my career I was faced with a tough issue that required confrontation. Instead of dealing head-on with the other parties, I asked my supervisor to get involved. In retrospect, I realize that the issue became much bigger than it needed to be because I didn't handle it directly.

On The Job

IT budget: $1 billion

Size of IT team: 2,500 employees

Top initiatives:

  • Keeping our systems available for our members 24/7/365.
  • Delivering projects faster while maintaining excellent quality.
  • Attracting and retaining the top technical talent in the industry.

Vision


The most disruptive force for my industry: Many would say that cloud computing is disruptive, but to me it's an evolution of our current service model that allows us to provision and deprovision resources quickly as dictated by computing or storage demands. Cloud computing has been around in some form for almost 20 years, but the proliferation of the Internet enabled vendors to easily provide access to services and large data stores for customers.

What I need from tech vendors: I would like our tech vendors to know us better, to understand USAA's mission and be able to show us exactly how they can help us achieve our goals. More often than not, tech vendors come to sell us a product -- we have to figure out if it will help us and if and how we should best use it.

Kids and technology careers: I've certainly tried to steer my kids toward a tech career, although I haven't been successful so far.

Personal


Degrees: Texas State University, BS, management information systems; St. Mary's University, MBA, finance (graduated with honors)

Last vacation: Mediterranean cruise

Favorite app: Sports Alerts

Person I'd most like to have lunch with: Warren Buffett

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... retired -- seriously, I can't think of a more exciting job or industry to be in

Ranked No. 37 in the 2012 InformationWeek 500

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OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2013 | 12:33:09 PM
re: CIO Profiles: Greg Schwartz Of USAA
One question and answer I had to leave out of the piece that ran in the digital magazine for reasons of space:

How do you give your teams room to innovate and experiment, as opposed to do run-the-business or hard ROI projects?

"We build innovation into the very fabric of our culture at USAA. My definition of innovation is 'any change that adds value.' Our IT vision statement charges IT to 'Innovate, Integrate and Manage' technology solutions. We absolutely focus on maintaining a culture that encourages, recognizes, and rewards continuous and disruptive innovation. ItGs not a matter of giving them room to do it GǪ. It is making it a natural part of their everyday job."

Jim Donahue
Managing Editor
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