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12/14/2008
10:50 AM
Bob Evans
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One Year Of Golf And Novels Is Plenty, CIO Says

Richard Rzasa spent 24 years in IT on Wall Street, culminating in a high-profile CIO role at TD Waterhouse before it was acquired by Ameritrade. Rzasa left the job market for a while to golf, read, and refresh, but then realized he missed the rush of the CIO world. So he's back in the game and savoring a very different CIO challenge, according to Greg MacSweeney of

Richard Rzasa spent 24 years in IT on Wall Street, culminating in a high-profile CIO role at TD Waterhouse before it was acquired by Ameritrade. Rzasa left the job market for a while to golf, read, and refresh, but then realized he missed the rush of the CIO world. So he's back in the game and savoring a very different CIO challenge, according to Greg MacSweeney of Wall Street & Technology.Rzasa, recognized by Wall Street & Technology as one of the financial industry's top CIOs, moved to a new industry with a small but high-growth company in a part of country far away from Wall Street, MacSweeney wrote. Now CIO at LifeLock, a provider of protection against ID theft, Rzasa's new home is Tempe, Ariz. MacSweeney describes the odyssey:

Rzasa departed TD Waterhouse in January 2006 after Ameritrade acquired the brokerage. He promptly began playing a lot of golf and reading through a stack of novels accumulated during his 24-year tenure on the Street that he "had been planning to get to," jokes Rzasa. After about a year of golf and countless novels, Rzasa started a short-term interim CIO engagement with 1-800-FLOWERS, the online florist. "At that point, I realized that I still enjoyed the work and I wanted to get back in the game."

Though relatively small, LifeLock is a feisty company touting a million-dollar guarantee for its ability to prevent ID theft, so it's not like Rzasa has slid into some sleepy backwater business. And he told MacSweeney he's very happy with the new challenges and the new opportunities.

At LifeLock, Rzasa is leading a much different organization (40 staffers) than he did at the much larger TD Waterhouse. "This is great," he says. "It's more hands on. I spend more time involved in architecture and new-product development and less time creating spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations."

So perhaps there's a lesson here for CIOs: even during these times of economic upheaval and job cutbacks, there always will be a need for highly qualified business-technology executives who prefer to focus on customers and opportunities rather than internal matters. And with the perspective of some time off -- not to mention lots of golf and novels -- you just might discover some wonderful new possibilities that the old view would never have revealed.

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