JPMorgan Chase CIO Turned First Data President Guy Chiarello Reflects On His Rise

May 02, 2016
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by Peter High, published on Forbes


Guy Chiarello has been a towering figure at the intersection between financial services and technology for multiple decades. He foresaw the power of digital business as Chief Information Officer of JPMorgan Chase before digital was the term of art or a department within corporations. He and his team there were responsible for the award-winning Chase Mobile App Suite, which grew its customer base to more than 10 million users in its first two years. He was also among the first to usher in peer-to-peer payments at scale. Perhaps most critical to his success, at a remarkably early period, he understood the power of pushing his businesses to think of IT as a source of innovation, and he ensured that he recruited the kinds of people who could deliver on that promise.

Not so surprisingly, Chiarello has risen definitively above the CIO role, now occupying the role of President of First Data Corporation. As president of the $11 billion global payment technology solutions company that handles almost half of all US credit and debit transactions, he and his team have even more room to leverage technology to innovate. I was interested to hear him reflect on his rise, how he interacts with his CIO and CTO, now that he is their boss, and where his attention is focused for the years ahead.

(To listen to an unabridged audio version of this interview, please visit this link. This is the 28th article in the “Beyond CIO” series. To read through past interview with executives from companies like Waste Management, Biogen, Allstate, Aetna, Marsh & McLennan, and BMO Financial Group, please visit this link.  To read future articles in the series, please click the “Follow” link above.)

Peter High: Guy Chiarello, You have been President of First Data Corporation for nearly three years. What is in your purview as president?

Guy Chiarello: If I simplify it, there are really three aspects of the job every day. One is really helping Frank Bisignano, our CEO, run the company: the day-to-day operations, making it work well for clients, and making it work well for the overall company and the employees that are part of it every day. The second is around clients. I spend a lot of time in the client space, not only helping sell our solutions, but, most importantly, understanding their experiences, their needs, and helping them focus on a forward-looking strategy where First Data can help them. This is a unique company, so explaining the company and helping them understand the value that it can bring to them and their business is key. The third function, which is really what I have really grown up prepared to do every day, is around the innovation, the engineering, and the technical operations of the company: engineering our products, solutions, defining strategy, which is really around not only innovation, but execution of the products and capabilities of the company every day, and then running the company from a technology perspective. I still have my hands in the technology function every day. I do have a CIO and a CTO inside the company, but this is a technology company.

High: What are some of your strategic priorities at right now?

Chiarello: The company is multi-faceted, so we have customers that are 4,000 plus banks as our customers. We are the outsourced party or the enabler for banks who are trying to deliver debit and credit solutions to cardholders around the world. On the other end of the spectrum, we have six million merchant locations where we deliver everything from point of sale and payment enablement. In between, we have the largest independent debit network—we are twenty-eight percent of the world’s e-commerce payment activity. We have a growing presence in “card not present” activity, so those are digital, mobile type payments, and, in a lot of ways as you bring those things together, really we are the go-to solution for people who either want to enable payments or deliver loans, credit or debit capabilities in the marketplace. That is in 100 plus countries on an everyday basis.

High: Both here, as well as in your role as CIO at JPMorgan Chase, innovation has been part of your set of responsibilities. How do you define innovation in a variety of different ways—big “I”, small “i”? What are some of the metrics you use to determine whether or not the organization is innovating appropriately or not?

To read the full article, please visit Forbes

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