Tech Careers Looking Shiny In The World Of Money - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing

Tech Careers Looking Shiny In The World Of Money

The beleaguered financial services industry can be a bleak place to work these days. But not to Denis Stypulkoski, the new CIO of start-up firm Tygris Commerical Finance Group, where he says optimism and opportunity abound.

The beleaguered financial services industry can be a bleak place to work these days. But not to Denis Stypulkoski, the new CIO of start-up firm Tygris Commerical Finance Group, where he says optimism and opportunity abound.Prior to being named CIO at Tygris this week, Stypulkoski was CIO of U.S. Express Leasing, a four-year-old equipment finance company that was acquired in May by Tygris. Like the new post at Tygris, the beauty of being CIO at U.S. Express Leasing was that there was no historical baggage weighing it down, says Stypulkoski.

"There was no legacy, it was a beautiful thing," he says. That includes no tangle of corporate bureaucracies, legacy computer systems or paper-based processes. U.S. Express Leasing operated its business "with total transparency" enabled by technology, he says.

When U.S. Express Leasing went to investors to raise debt and capital equity, "we showed [investors] technology's access to information and it was 'wow,'" he says.

That's was one the things about U.S. Express Leasing that appealed to Tygris, a recently launched commercial finance company that in May announced it had raised a record of nearly $2 billion in initial equity capital from investors that include Aquiline Capital Partners, a private equity firm formed by Jeff Greenberg, former chairman of financial firm, Marsh & McLennan Cos.

Greenberg is managing partner of Aquiline and chairman of Tygris, which is focused on providing "growth capital and liquidity to middle-market businesses," a segment for which financing has been constrained in the current credit crunch, says Stypulkoski.

"The plan is to grow smartly, picking spots," Stypulkoski says. "There's plenty of opportunity to help out other firms" having a hard time getting financing, he says.

The $2 billion equity infusion into Tygris was "the largest initial capital ever raised in the U.S. commercial finance sector," he says. "I'm incredibly fortunate to be in a company like Tygris," he says. "It's a dream come true for a CIO."

While Stypulkoski's previous CIO job at U.S. Express Leasing and the current post at Tygris involve setting the tech strategies at financial services start-up firms, he's got roots in IT leadership roles at a number of more established lenders, including CIT, AT&T Capital Corp., Lucent Technologies Finance Product, and Newcourt Credit Group.

A decade or so ago, while Stypulkoski was leading IT at companies like Newcourt Credit Group and AT&T Capital, the trend of IT organizations was to have "large teams doing custom" development work, he says.

"But that was because of a lack of component-based products" for developing IT-enabled business solutions, he says. Today, "IT teams one-tenth the size have capabilities on par or far greater" to assemble technology-driven solutions, he says.

The role of IT leaders today is that of "architect, integrator, supplier manager" while before it was "design, build, implement," he says.

What hasn't changed for CIOs over the years is "the need to have a good business technology vision, sit at the table with business leaders to engage and strategize" about how technology enables the business to get where it wants to be.

"No doubt, business leaders today are more tech savvy," than in the past, he says. "It's a great environment for the success of CIOs," who must also have a solid understanding of the business, yet at same time not be "technology lightweights," he says.

Tygris has a tiny IT org right now, only about 10 people. However, that'll change as the company grows organically and through acquisitions, he says.

Among the talent that Tygris is seeking are systems managers with backgrounds in the middle-market commercial finance business, Stypulkoski says. "People who can dive deep and hold their own in the technology ranks and work with the team of business leaders," getting things done, he says.

What he's really looking for, Stypulkoski admits, are people who have the skills, experience, depth-of-knowledge and leadership ability to one day become CIOs, too, he says.

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