Insurance & Technology


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F OR MOST TECHNOLOGY LEADERS, on time and on budget are pillars for success. Often, however, customer service is over- looked as IT groups strive to meet business demands. For Scott Blandford, CTO at TIAA-CREF, pleasing the user is just as important. When Blandford joined TIAA-CREF as CTO nearly four years ago, he faced an all-too-familiar challenge: The firm had a complex applica- tion environment with suboptimal information flow. Client-facing staffs, like call center employees, were stitching together client infor- mation with a collection of homegrown and third-party tools, and the customer experience was suffering. This didn't sit well with Blandford, who admits to being "relentless" about customer experience. His motto for his IT team: "On time, on scope, and on budget is great, but it does not count unless your us- ers love it." So he put his 25 years of experience with innovative technology systems to work and set out to create a new client service interface for the organization, one that would connect all the information in various applications and leverage the company's existing talent and October 2014 13 Previous Table of Contents Next Previous Table of Contents Next The best-built system or platform that hits all business deliverables is useless if the customers don't love the functionality. By Becca Lipman @BeccaLipman Focus On Customer Is More Important Than On Budget T I A A - C R E F SCOTT BLANDFORD Chief technology officer of retirement and individual technology, TIAA-CREF CAREER BIO: Before joining TIAA-CREF, Blandford served as the managing director, head of online and retirement technology, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for four years. He was also the CTO for Merrill's Institutional Retirement business. Prior to that, Blandford spent 11 years at Fidelity Investments, where he served as senior VP for Fidelity eBusiness. EDUCATION: Bachelor 's and master 's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton. WHO INFLUENCED YOU MOST IN YOUR CAREER? "I had a man- ager early in my career who basically told us IT is not an order-taker. Your job is to do the hard work, understand the whole business problem, and to show up with a point of view. To this day I can still feel him staring at me and telling me that." WHAT WORK EXPERIENCE HAD THE MOST LONG-LASTING EFFECT ON YOUR CAREER? "I was on a project years ago where I got to see firsthand the connection between how the project is structured, how the people are organized, and how decisions are made. I saw how that's connected to the outcomes of the project and the pace of the project. Since then, I make sure the structure of every project is in harmony with the intended outcome." DOWNLOAD PDF

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