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Schwab CIO Is Ready For Challenges

Charles Schwab names new CIO to take place of Dawn Lapore, last year's IW Chief of the Year.

InformationWeek Staff

November 2, 2001

2 Min Read

Geoff Penney knows that he faces a tough challenge this month when he replaces Dawn Lepore as CIO at Charles Schwab & Co. and takes on the job of running IT for the financial-services company. He sums up his feelings about the new position with candor: "I'm very excited, very honored--and a little nervous."

Geoff Penney



Penney will take over managing daily IT operations at Schwab.

Penney's appointment comes during a difficult time for Schwab, and he'll take over management of daily IT operations from an executive who's widely known in the industry for fostering technologies that helped Schwab become the leading online brokerage firm. Schwab announced last month that Lepore--InformationWeek's Chief Of The Year for 2000--will become vice chairman of technology and administration. While Lepore will continue to oversee technology at the senior-executive level, she'll also gain oversight of administrative functions such as human resources, legal, payroll, facilities, and corporate communications--functions that were managed by Beth Sawi, who's retiring as Schwab's chief administration officer.

Schwab has cut budgets and its workforce this year and doesn't plan to replace Sawi. Lepore is looking forward to her new job. "I get to stay involved with new technologies and learn some new things," she says, "so it's the best of both worlds from my perspective."

For Penney, who still reports to Lepore, the challenge is to continue and expand the customer-focused initiatives spearheaded by Lepore and Schwab president and co-CEO David Pottruck, who shared the InformationWeek Chief Of The Year title with Lepore. Schwab will expand its services and technologies for independent investment advisers in the coming year and is planning new online tools for investors.

Penney, who remains an executive VP at the firm, has worked with Lepore since joining Schwab five years ago. His first job at the company was managing the Financial Products and International Technology Division. More recently, he was manager of Client Technology. In that role, Penney oversaw development of Web sites and software used by investors.

Penney previously served as a senior VP for Fidelity Investments in Boston and managing director for Bankers Trust Co. in London and New York. This is his first job as a CIO. "I've pretty much always worked in financial services," Penney says, "but I'm a technologist through and through."

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