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Management Strategies

05:15 PM
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Having Stepped Up to CIO, Bob Casale Pushes Innovation at MassMutual

MassMutual's Bob Casale has stepped into the CIO role and led the carrier into the next phase of its technology modernization initiative.

When it comes to personal use, MassMutual SVP and CIO Bob Casale lists his BlackBerry, iPod and GPS as his most important technology devices. "GPS navigation in the car was the most tremendous invention of all time for a guy like me, who is horrible with directions," Casale admits.

For a man who has trouble finding his way behind the wheel, Casale has demonstrated an extraordinary sense of direction at MassMutual, where he has helped lead a multiyear effort to modernize the technology environment, which includes mainframe and distributed environments.

In his previous role as MassMutual's deputy CIO, Casale established an enterprisewide reference architecture for the Springfield, Mass.-based carrier and oversaw the development of an SOA environment, effectively creating a road map that the company would use to pursue modernization. Since stepping into the CIO role in December 2008, when he replaced the retiring Michael Foley, Casale has pushed MassMutual's modernization effort forward, implementing key enabling technologies and leading the IT team as it seeks to build out and extend the capabilities of those technologies to drive value to the business.

In the months leading up to his promotion, Casale learned on the job as deputy CIO and counts Foley as a mentor. "The transition went smoothly," Casale says. "Mike did a wonderful job with me, stepping back and really purposefully setting a transition timeline that gave me the time to get my legs under me."

Casale adds that Foley helped him realize that one big key to the CIO job is, quite simply, people. "It's about the team. It's about inspiring people. It's about influencing people. It's about getting people excited to come to work," Casale comments. "When you get that right, everything else just works."

Robert Casale, MassMutual
With that in mind, Casale employs a management style focused on creating an environment open to diverse perspectives. In 2008, for example, he initiated an Operating Strategy Activity that facilitates collaboration and open dialogue across the carrier's IT organization. He also believes it's important to enjoy what you do and, crediting his father for helping develop his sense of humor, says he tries to inject humor into the workday.

When Casale took over as CIO, MassMutual ($363 billion in assets under management) had already implemented several new core systems and applications, including an enterprise content management (ECM) system, data warehousing capabilities, a new whole life platform and a Web-based illustration tool. As the modernization effort has progressed, though, so too have the objectives of the IT team.

Casale explains that the IT team set out a couple of years ago to position the business with industry-leading technologies. In the past 18 months, he reports, a new distribution platform, a new strategic platform for traditional products and new field capabilities have been put in place.

"Over the last year and a half, really, all of those core platforms have now been implemented, and we're moving on to the second phase, which is the build-out of the business capability," Casale relates. "We're really focusing now, going forward, on things like mobility, collaboration and social networking. We've got a lot of irons in the fire."

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