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3/4/2010
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CIO Profiles: Patricia A. Coffey Of Allstate Insurance And The Society For Information Management

The tech VP's pet peeve? Don't tell her "That's not my job."

Career Track



Patricia A. Coffey, VP of Technology, Allstate Insurance, and President, Society for Information Management

PATRICIA A. COFFEY
VP of Technology, Allstate Insurance, and President, Society for Information Management
How long at current company: I've worked here for 30 years--I came to Allstate to finish my degree while working.

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: One of my favorite career accomplishments was the delivery of AccessAllstate.com, a Web site for financial services producers. This was a true team effort, across multiple business areas, focused on delivering value for the customers (in this case, the producers). We worked hard, broke with conventional wisdom, and in the end won a number of awards for our effort.

Most important career influencer: I've learned from every one of my bosses. I had a conversation with one boss about my struggles with some of the prevailing culture. The boss asked how this was ever going to change if someone didn't step out--and suggested I become a role model in that regard. Talk about challenge and motivation!

Vision
Best way to cope with the economic downturn: CIOs should look for what IT needs to do to support their particular business in this environment. For example, can application of technology significantly reduce the cost of a business operation, simplify the process to serve a customer, or even reduce the cost of running the IT shop? Most important, make sure you're helping to position for the upturn. Down won't last forever.

The federal government's top technology priority: As a taxpayer, I'd like to see the government employ technology to reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of the services provided. As a citizen, I'd like to see the government use technology to provide safety and security to the country. As a CIO, I'd like to see the government supporting technological innovation.

Kids and tech careers: I don't know what a technology career will look like in 20 years, but I believe there will still be a need to understand how to apply IT to business problems. I find a tech career fast-paced, rewarding, and fun. What more could you ask for?

On The Job
IT budget: $150 million

Size of IT team: Approximately 1,000 employees, consultants, and offshore resources

Top initiatives:

  • Data Center Migration is moving us to a two-data-center model while improving resilience and reducing cost.
  • Sales and Customer Service Roadmap is an integrated set of deliverables designed to improve customer experience across all of our channels and products.
  • Electronic Document Delivery is designed to improve flexibility, production, and document delivery.

How I measure IT effectiveness: We scorecard across a number of dimensions including company metrics (e.g., revenue, expense ratio), value metrics (e.g., individual project contribution to the company, impact to customer service), and effectiveness metrics (e.g., project delivery, labor cost).

Personal


Colleges/degrees: National College of Education, BA in behavioral science; University of Illinois, Chicago, MBA

Business leader I'd like to have lunch with: Indra Nooyi, one of the highest-ranking female executives today

Biggest business-related pet peeve: "Not my job", followed by "not invented here"

Best book read recently: 1776, by David McCullough--it's amazing that we're even a country

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