Evaluating IT Talent: What It Takes to Deliver a Competitive Advantage
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Wells Fargo Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kevin Rhein reveals how the company goes about exploring partnerships and the characteristics of talented team members.
By Kevin Rhein
The key to Wells Fargo's success is our commitment to our customers. In order to provide the best customer experience and earn the loyalty of our customers, we must recruit and retain talented and engaged team members.
So how do we define "talented and engaged?" In Wells Fargo's Technology and Operations Group (TOG), we look for individuals who have a range of both technical and non-technical skills that are also great leaders and motivators. We want technologists who have a passion for executing the fundamentals flawlessly, creating integrated partnerships, and engaging with fellow team members to build a diverse, inclusive, and successful culture.
Getting the Fundamentals Right
In financial services, like many other industries, technology is the lifeblood of the organization --and you don't get a second chance to get the fundamentals right. More than 70 million customers count on Wells Fargo to have our systems operating smoothly every day. The systems we maintain in TOG facilitate billions of transactions annually. And each is a moment of truth with our customers to reinforce their trust and confidence in Wells Fargo. We can't afford a hiccup.
With one of the largest distribution channels in financial services, we have enormous accountability. Wells Fargo has a store or ATM within 2 miles of 50 percent of the U.S. population. We also have 21.1 million active online banking customers and a fast growing mobile banking channel with more than 8.5 million active customers.
In TOG, we don't physically see customers every day, but we never forget who we work for. That's why when I consider talent I always look for candidates with a customer mindset.
Specialized skills in emerging technologies like data management, information security, and cloud computing are definitely appealing, but candidates that can examine and implement these capabilities through the eyes of the customer will have a competitive edge. We don't believe in technology for technology's sake. Every technology, product, service, solution, or idea must have a tangible benefit for our team members servicing customers or directly for the customer.
Wells Fargo has long been a leader in technology, product, and channel innovation. We were the first bank to offer Internet access to account balances and transaction history.
We also were the first major bank to widely deploy envelope-free ATMs as well as offering customers personalized options while conducting business at our ATMs. Our innovations -- such as desktop and store-image capture for checks and other financial documents -- also reduce expenses, improve the customer's experience and help the environment.
Developing Integrated Partnerships
Before becoming the Group Executive over TOG last year, I served as head of Card Services and Consumer Lending. I know from personal experience that the business expects strategic, consultative partnerships from its technology partners. In my former role, I considered the CIO assigned to my group a part of my leadership team. I expected my technology partners to know my business, our key drivers, our customers and challenges. As the head of TOG, I have the same expectations of my team. They need to know their clients' businesses to provide the best consultation and help maximize the efficiency of the business' technology and operations spend.
In order to partner around efficiency, we have to be transparent about our costs and provide options that show value for the dollar. This comes into play when we think about deploying emerging technology. It's not enough to be innovative -- we have to be able to clearly and concisely talk about the incremental value the technology investment provides for the business and ultimately for our customers.