The World Bank Group’s Board-Level CIO Transforms IT

April 06, 2015
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by Peter High, published on Forbes


Stephanie von Friedeburg is the CIO and Vice President of Information Technology Solutions at the World Bank Group. In that capacity, she has overseen a tremendous transformation of IT across the Group throughout the 186 countries in which it operates. A primary weapon in her arsenal has been better use of cloud technology. This has increased the flexibility of IT, while also enhancing the Bank’s information security around the globe.

Additionally, she has joined a small but growing group of CIOs who have been asked to join the boards of companies.  In addition to being a part of the  Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union, von Friedeburg is on the board of Part of the reason she has been board-ready has been the fact that she has a non-traditional background. With foreign policy degrees and an MBA from the Wharton School, von Friedeburg began her career at the Bank in non-technical roles. She has an auto-didact’s talent to learn quickly, while surrounding herself with a talented team with complementary strengths. She covers all the above and more in this interview.

(To listen to an unabridged audio version of this interview, please  click this link.  This is the ninth article in the Board-Level CIO series. To read the prior eight articles, please click this link. This is also the 13th article in the “Leading Women in Technology Series.” To read the prior 12 articles, please  visit this link.  To read future articles in the series, please click the “Follow” link above.)

Peter High:  I thought we’d begin with your role as CIO and VP of Information Technology Solutions at the World Bank Group.  Can you describe your responsibilities within the bank?

High: As you mentioned, you have quite a diverse set of constituents.  You have employees all over the world, in places with differing quality of technology and Wi-Fi access, for instance.  You even have people in Washington who travel to all over the world, as well.  Can you talk about he challenges and the ways in which you facilitate collaboration and communication in such a diverse employee set?

Von Friedeburg: When I came to this job almost four years ago, we were a Lotus Notes shop.  We had mobile devices that were not owned by the corporation, but were owned by individuals. There were all kinds of different smartphones where people could use smartphone applications and telephone applications, and we paid tremendous roaming costs.

We have 186 country offices, and we had servers in 186 country offices, so to put it in perspective, we have a very big WAN, a big VPN, so I might be an investment officer based in Johannesburg, and I’m going to travel to DRC, and I’m going to try to access my e-mail from that server that sits in Johannesburg.  My communications goes either through Paris, Chennai or Washington, all the way back to South Africa, and then back to me.  We were very antiquated.  So our intention as a team was to ask, “How do we get to a point where we can give access to anyone anywhere from any device to all of the information that we have at our fingertips?”  We really set about trying to do that differently and thinking about our 186 country offices, and how are they connected, and that was one of the first places we started.  So, we used to spend $12 million a year on connectivity and we have upped that very substantially.

To read the full article, please visit Forbes

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