CIO Values: Deb Horvath, Executive VP and CIO at Washington Mutual

Deb Horvath, executive VP and CIO at Washington Mutual, talks about building a tech team that's aligned with business and is able to deliver competitive advantage and innovation, and the importance of having a three-year strategy that’s annually refreshed.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 5, 2007

3 Min Read

Career Track

Deb HorvathExecutive VP and CIO, Washington Mutual

How long at current job? 3.5 years

The career accomplishment you're most proud of: Building an industry-leading technology team capable of delivering significant competitive advantage continuously. We've built a strong relationship with the business, delivered double-digit productivity for three years in a row, and created a platform for continuous innovation. This team delivers on our brand promise of simpler banking.

Most important career influencer: My mother is my role model. She raised six children, managed the finances and the household, and contributed many hours to community service. She is calm under pressure and makes everyone feel special. She taught me that we are all capable of more than we know.

Major decision that you wish you could do over again: I live by a philosophy of once you make a decision, don't second-guess what you can't change. I've also been very lucky in my personal and business life; I owe that to my Irish heritage, I'm sure.

On The Job

IT budget: Enterprise oversight for $1.4 billion

Size of IT team: 2,541 employees plus 2,021 offshored resources

Top three initiatives for the current year:

• New home loans origination platform to drive industry-leading cycle times

• Enterprise architecture to streamline our platform for simpler banking

• New call-center platform to enable superior customer service

How I measure IT effectiveness: For every dollar invested in technology, we should get an average of at least two back. It will be significantly higher for revenue-generating initiatives and can be lower for foundation programs. We strive for less than two-year paybacks and a higher number of growth projects to foundation projects.


The next big thing for my business will be ... contactless, paperless, mobile, and green capabilities. We look for innovative technologies and innovative uses of existing technologies to deliver industry-leading competitive products and services.

Best piece of advice for future CIOs: Always have a three-year strategy that's annually refreshed. Build a strong team that's aligned with the business and continually improving. Build strong relationships with your peers and understand their challenges. Be accessible and overcommunicate.


Colleges/degrees: Baldwin-Wallace College, BA in business administration; GE Financial Management Program

Best book read recently: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

If I weren't a CIO I would be ... a community volunteer. You get to contribute to a great cause and there's a high appreciation rate for free labor.


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