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Matthew Tartaro
Matthew Tartaro
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2001's Elite 8: Where Are They Now?

Elite 8 2001 alumni have retained their fervor in meeting the challenges of the past year. Here's what they've been up to.

Koster Does More with Less

Despite the challenges of tighter budgets over the past year, BARBARA KOSTER, senior vice president and chief information officer, Individual Life Insurance and Retail Distribution, Prudential Financial (Newark, NJ, $379 billion in assets), says that her division has learned to do more with less, including utilizing offshore capabilities and continuing to grow offshore relationships.

Koster is most proud of Electronic Assistant, a program that has been initiated in 47 states since she was named a 2001 Elite 8 award winner. The program enables Prudential to capture signatures electronically and includes an automated underwriting engine that she says has helped Prudential to reduce cycle time and errors. In 2003, Koster looks to enable straight-through transaction processing and to Web-enable Prudential's business environment.

Yates Builds Disaster Recovery Plan

Since becoming a 2001 Elite 8 award winner, USAA Information Technology Co.'s STEVE YATES has been recognized for leading one of CIO magazine's top 100 organizations for outstanding business achievements. Additionally, USAA ($64 billion in assets), the San Antonio-based company where Yates still serves as CIO, is on Computerworld's 100 Best Places to Work in IT list.

One of Yates' challenges during the past 12 months has been building and maintaining a disaster recovery plan for USAA that encompasses all business and operational systems. "We aim to get the entire company up and running in a few hours, should we lose a part of our building complex,"explains Yates.

Looking forward, Yates says that customer relationship management will be a primary concern of his company. USAA recently replaced its internally built CRM technologies with Chordiant (Cupertino, CA) products. Long-term projects at USAA include delivering a Web-based P&C policy administration system for auto and home coverages. It is slated to be finished at the end of next year.

McCaig Goes Back to School

CHARLES G. MCCAIG has had a productive year at Chubb & Son ($30.4 billion in assets, Warren, NJ), where he remains managing director and senior vice president of information technology. McCaig recently completed Chubb's Global Executive Education Program, consisting of a series of sessions led by professors from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

In addition, Chubb has been focusing on initiating and growing five major systems that were installed at the end of 2001. The additions include a claims system, a specialty insurance system, a set of financial systems based on technology from PeopleSoft (Pleasanton, CA), a commercial auto system and a personal lines Internet portal for agents and insureds. "Putting all of these major systems in at once has really kept us busy," McCaig reports, adding that all of the new systems have been successful.

Walters' Focus: Critical Initiatives

The past year has been characterized by the challenge of making the most of one's means, says BOB WALTERS, CIO of Boston-based John Hancock Financial Services ($124 billion in assets under management). Since garnering his Elite 8 Award last year, Walters has worked to redirect resources from less-significant projects to the most critical initiatives.

One project that made the cut was Long Term Care Partners LLC, a joint partnership with New York-based MetLife to administer long-term care insurance for federal government employees in need of daily living assistance. Walters worked to clone and outsource John Hancock's operating platform for the joint venture. According to Walters, John Hancock is also considering outsourcing infrastructure operations, and projects that a decision on whether or not to outsource will be made by early next year. Even with all of John Hancock's product and service development, Walters remains modest when asked about his greatest achievement in the past year. "Surviving these tumultuous financial times," he answers, "and keeping our IT function held together as best as we can through the volatility."

Popolano Stresses Productivity

While MARK POPOLANO still holds the title of Global CIO of AIG ($268 billion in assets, New York), the responsibilities of his position have grown immensely in the past year. Since AIG completed its acquisition of American General in mid-2001, Popolano has been adjusting to the addition of about 800 technology personnel to manage. Yet he views his increased accountabilities as a benefit for AIG, explaining that "a larger organization allows for a larger breadth of productivity."

Expense management, particularly in technology selection, has been a focus for AIG in the down market of the past year, Popolano says. However, he clarifies that this hasn't been as challenging as one might think, since AIG has always concentrated on being cost-efficient.

In addition, he realizes the volatility of the market. Popolano stresses the need for AIG to be ready for an upturn and emphasizes the importance of continuing to develop technology to improve areas of customer service and network connectivity. "The economy will turn around," he says, adding that AIG will be ready when it does.

Chapman Reaps Awards

BYRNE CHAPMAN, vice president of information services at American Family Mutual Insurance of Madison, WI ($10 billion in assets), has barely been able to take a breath since being named one of last year's Elite 8 Award winners.

In addition to Insurance & Technology's award, Chapman has been recognized as one of Computerworld's top 100 CIOs, which also named American Family's information services department one of the top 100 IT organizations for which to work.

"American Family's business is actually exploding right now," he says. "Our challenge has been to make sure that the automated systems keep up with the demand for processing. IS has identified a whole series of projects that helped us meet the growth in our business without adding a lot of staff, without changing service levels and adding expenses."

Communication and the contributions of officers from varied backgrounds have been part of a vital process for American Family. Quarterly reviews by both the technology and business departments have helped Chapman to prioritize the importance and viability of technology projects, he says. Some examples of current initiatives that have proven to be worthy undertakings include the changing of thousands of agent desktops, and movement towards a new intranet, Web-based claims reporting system. With electronic document management and automated workflow projects on the horizon, Chapman says he hopes to continue the success of the past year.

Barger Joins EMC Corp.

KEN BARGER, who was named a 2001 Elite 8 Award winner during his tenure as CTO of The Hartford (assets of $167 billion), recently joined EMC Corp. (Hopkington, MA), a technology vendor specializing in information storage and management. Barger accepted the position of director of technical business consulting of the Northeast in June 2002.

Aon Adds HR Portal Tech

Chicago-based Aon Corp. ($7.7 billion in revenue, 2001) has grown in technology, partnerships and recognition since executive vice president and chief information officer JUNE DREWRY was recognized as an Elite 8 Award winner last year.

One product that Aon has added to its portfolio is a human resources portal. Another initiative, eComp, helps companies compare executive compensation packages. Aon was also chosen as the outsourcing partner for AT&T's (Basking Ridge, NJ) HR department. Under this agreement, Aon will provide or build on all existing AT&T HR technology programs.

The ingenuity of "Wired for Growth," part of Aon's technology risk group, earned the company the first Insurance Innovator's Award for its contribution to building business relationships through Internet technology. InSystems, META Group, and Insurance & Technology bestowed the honor for the industry's first Web-enabled virtual risk manager.

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