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Vanguard Names New IT Chief In Exec Shuffle

Vanguard, which often flips execs between business and IT, named a former IT exec the new top investment officer.

Mutual fund giant Vanguard has shuffled several executive positions, naming a new chief information officer, while giving the coveted chief investment officer role to an exec who used to run IT.

The moves show the high regard Vanguard holds for information technology, since two of the highest ranking business executives will have done stints leading the IT organization. Vanguard, which manages about $1.7 trillion in U.S. mutual fund assets, was the No. 1 company in the InformationWeek 500 in 2010.

Here are the new executive roles:

John Marcante is the new chief information officer. He's held several IT and business roles with Vanguard since joining in 1986 from General Electric.

Paul Heller, the former chief information officer, becomes head of the retail investor group. Heller, a 28-year Vanguard veteran, had worked in the retail business in the past, before leading IT.

Tim Buckley becomes the new chief investment officer, replacing Gus Sauter, who's retiring. Buckley had been running Vanguard's retail business most recently, but he also led the IT operations in the early 2000s, when Vanguard was first building out its Web presence. Since Vanguard doesn't have branches, the Web now is the dominant way investors interact with the company and their investments.

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Under Heller, Vanguard's IT team tried to accelerate its tech innovation.

Vanguard has tight ties between the business unit and IT operations, in part because of this kind of executive shuffling. But there can be a downside to that business-minded IT. With IT so plugged into business needs, dutifully anticipating and meeting those requirements, there's a risk of IT not driving enough of its own innovation agenda.

Heller tried to drive more tech innovation using what he called "Dig" teams--for Distributed Innovation Group. These were ad hoc groups formed around a discreet pilot project, people who generally also held down their day-to-day responsibilities in a project's early stages.

InformationWeek is conducting a survey to determine how IT is perceived in the enterprise. Take our InformationWeek 2012 IT Perception Survey now. Survey ends Aug. 3.

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