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There was little public fanfare when Don Haile became Fidelity Investments' new CIO three years ago. At the time, the financial services industry was swooning over the bold moves at rival Charles Schwab in stirring the revolution in the discount brokerage business.
Haile paid no mind. Instead, he settled into the chair of a successful predecessor who had been a cheerleader for the new techno-wizardry that would carry Fidelity into the future. Haile, a 34-year IBM veteran, would give new prominence to the firm's skunk works, called the Fidelity Center for Applied Technologies, and begin the delicate balancing act of fostering innovation both there and in Fidelity's more prosaic back-office hallways. The result: a new eminence for Fidelity's technical prowess, and respect inside and outside the firm for Haile.
"Don has given FCAT the freedom to create something," says
Siki Giunta, president and CEO of Managed Objects, a supplier of Web site diagnostic software to Fidelity. "He's a showman. With Jeff Crawford [vice president of e-business], Don built a video wall in the operations center that shows off Fidelity's IT achievements, making everything much more visible to everyone in the company and everyone outsidefrom vendors to analysts and rivals. Don's changed the way IT is seen inside the company and in the industry."