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CIO Profiles: In Their Own Words

IT leaders share their top priorities, biggest mistakes, and career dreams if they weren't a CIO.
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CIO, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies

How long at current company: 25 years

Most important career influencer: Progressive's former CIO, Allan Ditchfield. He established a mentoring relationship and gave me some assignments that stretched me and helped me grow. This is a big reason I'm CIO today.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of I was part of the team that built the capability for us to sell insurance directly to consumers. Progressive was the first auto insurance group to have a website and the first to sell insurance to customers directly over the Internet.

Decision I wish I could do over: Several years ago, Progressive reduced IT staff by about 7%. In retrospect, I realize that we could have been more open with our team and communicated what was going on much earlier in the process.

Size of IT team: 3,500

Top initiatives: • Continue to build momentum in the rollout of our new policy processing system. • Add high-value features to our mobile offerings. • Undertake a major infrastructure simplification project.

How I measure IT effectiveness: It's important to follow effectiveness in different ways. Among the ways we do this is financial throughput, measured as net benefit divided by net present value of labor cost. One other way is by measuring quality, including the frequency and severity of systems outages and defects in production.

The next big thing for my company will be ... leveraging mobile technology--phones, tablet computers, inside cars, etc.--to make it easier for our customers to use our services.

One thing I'm looking to change: I'm working toward removing unnecessary complexity by using an infrastructure upgrade process to identify and eliminate low-value components.

Kids and tech careers: I wouldn't suggest a tech career because I don't believe in steering my kids when it comes to a career path. I want them to find something they're passionate about if they are to have a chance at success.

Colleges/degrees: Case Western Reserve University, BS in computer engineering and an MBA

Favorite sport: Football

Tech CEO I admire: Workday's Dave Duffield

Personal computer: iPad

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a football coach or a sportswriter

Ranked No. 71 in the 2010 InformationWeek 500

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