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Management Strategies

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Mark Berthiaume Addresses the Big Picture at Chubb

The enterprise IT governance and strategy initiatives driven by Mark Berthiaume, CIO of Chubb's Specialty and Commercial divisions, are highlights of a career transcending the limits of business lines and of IT itself.

When Chubb group moved to a federated organizational structure in 2001, it could be said that the Warren, N.J.-based P&C carrier made a fateful choice, emphasizing business/IT alignment at the line-of-business level at the expense of enterprise technology advantages. Mark Berthiaume's enterprise IT initiatives, however, support the argument that Chubb merely got its priorities right.

The natural tendency of federated organizations is for business groups to make local decisions on technology tools and platforms, and Chubb's (more than $13 billion in annual revenue) experience was no different, acknowledges Berthiaume, CIO of the carrier's Specialty and Commercial Insurance divisions. While the organizational scheme reinforced IT's ability to effectively support the particular needs of individual business units, the company as a whole accumulated duplicate systems and generated excessive costs. To address those inefficiencies, in 2005 then enterprise CIO June Drewry called on Berthiaume to explore the potential for shared assets and services.

Natural Choice

Berthiaume was a natural choice for the task for developing enterprise IT governance, based on the success of an IT governance process that he had developed within Chubb's Specialty business shortly after he joined the unit as CIO in 2001. However, other aspects of his career confirm Berthiaume's capacity to transcend the frontiers of business units and the IT/business divide itself. "I am very much a business-oriented CIO, even though I began my insurance career as a programmer trainee," he comments.

Mark Bertiaume, Chubb Commercial Insurance
Berthiaume's self-characterization is not hard to substantiate. His IT governance process was ultimately adopted as a governance model for the entire Specialty business unit, and Berthiaume also has taken on the business role of senior vice president, field operations, for Specialty. In July 2008, as an outgrowth of his development of an enterprise IT government framework, Berthiaume was given responsibility for enterprise IT strategy. He took on responsibility for Surety IT in the first quarter of 2009, and in July of this year he assumed the CIO role for Chubb Commercial Insurance -- the company's largest business unit.

By early 2006, Berthiaume relates, he had met with strategic vendors and assembled a cross-functional team of Chubb's senior IT executives. After a study of the various IT organizations, according to Berthiaume, the team concluded that no standard business unit IT governance model would work for the various IT organizations, given that process rigor was driven by each shop's size and CIO leadership style. Targeting the opportunity for efficiency at the enterprise level, the team identified practices and process templates that became the basis of Chubb's enterprise IT governance framework.

"The framework carved out how we would make selections for infrastructure platforms and other software that might be outside the business domain," Berthiaume explains. "We also built-out a framework for business and IT governance where senior leaders within the organization would have a process for determining how to fund enterprise IT initiatives that would be shared across multiple business units."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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